My younger daughter’s birthday is coming up very soon (can’t believe my “baby” is going to be 5!) and I have been in party menu-planning mode for the last couple of weeks. I didn’t want to do a typical birthday cake, because of the high sugar and gluten content; but I also didn’t want to spend a fortune on one of those cake mixes that are free of everything that could cause a possible allergy or intolerance…but then you have to wonder what the heck is in it after they take everything out? So I was on a hunt for a low-sugar, gluten-free dessert that isn’t too expensive or hard to make.
Several years ago I purchased a beautifully illustrated recipe card set called A Passion for Chocolate by Linda Collister. Even though I don’t bake often, I do love my dark chocolate and the photographs were just so yummy looking I had to purchase it. So I started going through that for some inspiration and I came across her recipe for basic chocolate mousse.
I’ve made chocolate mousse before (for our fètes in French class in high school), and remembered that I always did a pretty good job with it, but I had never realized that there really is no added sugar in chocolate mousse. It’s really just chocolate, a tiny bit of butter (or healthy butter substitute like Earth’s balance), and eggs. The only sugar really comes from whatever sugar happens to be in the chocolate. If you are using dark chocolate that is at least 70 to 72% cacao, then you’re really not getting that much sugar at all. Hmmm this was starting to look like a good possibility…I gave the recipe a bit of a Holistically Haute™ tweak, and came out with something delicious with no added sugar and actual health benefits.
I don’t like to eat eggs by themselves personally (I just don’t like the smell or taste…just my personal preference), but I have no qualms about using them in other foods. The thing with eggs though, is that they have to be free range and farm-fresh, otherwise you are not getting nearly as many nutrients and the energetic and overall health benefits of the eggs are compromised. Farm-fresh, “eggs produced by free-roaming and pasture-pecking chickens” are naturally higher in Vitamin D (from the chickens soaking up the sun), “carotenoid antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and vitamin A, along with notably higher amounts of folic acid and vitamin B12.” This is for many reasons, but the biggest reason is that they are fed a proper omnivorous diet (as opposed to pellets given to factory-farmed chickens which are made up primarily of slaughterhouse waste), and have regular and adequate exposure to sunlight.
Eggs have gotten a bad rap lately because of this country’s high cholesterol issues, and of course eggs contain cholesterol. Well it turns out that many of the studies coming out are revealing that these health problems are actually due more to inflammation from high sugar diets than cholesterol. The fact is that people need good quality cholesterol for proper hormone development and regulation (in all stages of life), as well as other essential body functions. Farm fresh, free range eggs are a good source of good cholesterol, and I believe they should be part of a healthy diet for most people. The Weston A. Price Foundation is an excellent resource which provides great information about the importance of consuming high quality, humanely treated and pasture-raised, organic animal products if you are going to consume them at all.
By the way, my sister-in-law, Laura has chickens and knows a lot about farm-fresh, free range eggs. I get my eggs either from her or directly from a local farm. Did you know that conventional eggs not only are lower in nutrition but also are usually already 3 months old by the time they reach your grocer’s shelves? No, thank you.
If you have high cholesterol or other inflammatory health issues, I suggest you consult with a health coach or holistic nutritionist to see what dietary changes might be appropriate for your specific condition.
So, yes the following recipe contains eggs. Therefore it is a rich dessert which will fill you up quickly and should be saved for special occasions. However, in my opinion it’s about as healthy a dessert you will ever find outside of good old fresh fruit.
• 3 oz of chocolate, chopped into small pieces. I like to use plain organic chocolate that is 70 to 72% cacao. Watch out for the flavored ones…they often contain extra sugar.
• 2 tbs water
• 2 tsps butter or butter substitute like coconut oil, Earth’s Balance Buttery Spread, or their Organic Coconut Spread; softened. I typically use organic, grass-fed cultured butter in my recipe.
• 3 large farm fresh, free range eggs with yolks and whites separated (yes you will be making meringue!)
• ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
• Optional: 1 tbs of organic peanut butter (it’s still great without it so no worries if nut allergies are a concern)
• Melt your chocolate slowly in a double boiler (heatproof bowl over a saucepan of steaming or simmering water). Stir in your butter and water and then remove the bowl from the heat. Set aside for a minute while you make your meringue.
• Use a hand mixer and start beating your egg whites until it becomes light, fluffy meringue. You will know it is done when you lift the mixer and are left with little white peaks. This should not take long. Set aside.
• Stir your egg yolks into your warm chocolate, vanilla extract, and peanut butter if you are using it and continue to stir until you have a uniform consistency.
• Gently fold in the egg whites, little by little, until it is all mixed together.
• Spoon your mousse into small serving dishes and let it chill in the fridge for at least two hours before serving.
This recipe makes about four 3 oz servings. I love topping this mousse with a dollop of homemade whipped cream (I use raw heavy cream and a couple of drops of stevia to sweeten it) and chocolate shavings, and fresh strawberries.
Since it has such a dense consistency though, it does great in cupcake molds…just put your cupcake wrappers into your tins, pour the mousse, let it chill, and top with freshly whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Perfect for a birthday party!