Ricotta Chocolate Mousse

Dessert,Desserts with Dairy

Last spring I was leading a series of private cooking classes for one of my clients who wanted to learn how to make chocolate mousse. I knew he probably wouldn’t make a fussy or difficult recipe so I searched on line for something simple.

I prefer making and eating dairy free desserts. I also recognize that some things are hard to  replace–––ricotta and other cheeses, and cream. I’ve used tofu in puddings, custard pies, and mousses (silken tofu works best). I thought they tasted okay, but not great. The beany flavor can be difficult to disguise. I like tofu in stir fries more than desserts. Besides, I think I overdosed on soy during my vegan and macrobiotic years, so I prefer to limit my consumption of it now to tamari and miso, fermented condiments used in small amounts. So, I occasionally compromise and use some dairy products. This is one of those cases.

6a00e552ad01da88340105368d7754970b-320wiMost people are familiar with French-style chocolate mousse with its light and airy texture. I wanted something more dense, like what my mother made when I was growing up. She used to melt several cubes of unsweetened baker’s chocolate, add sugar, and vanilla, then fold the mixture into part skim ricotta cheese; her recipe didn’t contain whipping cream. I loved the thick, rich mouthfeel of it but I never got the chance to find out exactly how much of each ingredient she used.

Ricotta Chocolate Mousse
Prep: 20 minutes/ Cooking: 3 minutes/Chilling: at least 1 hour /Yield: 4 servings

When I found this recipe from one of the Moosewood cookbooks, I knew I had to try it. I replaced the white sugar with honey (agave nectar also works) and stevia. I changed the garnish (I love the bitterness and crunch of cocoa nibs against the creaminess and sweetness of the pudding) and tweaked the instructions.

Health notes: Buy raw whipping cream from a local farmer whose animals that haven’t been given growth hormones. Next best is pasteurized organic whipping cream or one that says “rBGH-free” or “rBST-free” on the label (that means the cows didn’t receive growth hormones) Avoid ultra pasteurized cream, it doesn’t whip up as well as regular pasteurized or raw milk cream.

Organic Valley is the only company I found that makes an organic ricotta cheese. It’s worth searching for and paying more for given the risks associated with eating rBST or rBGH treated milk. These genetically modified growth hormones significantly increase the risk of reproductive disorders and cancer in humans.

If you don’t know much about the hazards of consuming genetically modified foods, please buy, rent, or watch the documentary Seeds of Deception on line.

FYI: For a screaming deal on organic cocoa nibs (aka cacoa nibs), check out Cocoa Supply Company. What are they? Roasted cocoa beans separated from their husks and broken into small bits. They add a delightful crunch to recipes and can be used in place of nuts in cookies or as a garnish for ice cream, puddings, or mousses.

15-ounce tub ricotta cheese, organic if possible (you may use part skim to reduce the fat)
3 ounces unsweetened baker’s chocolate (Hersheys, Sharffenberger,
1 teaspon pure vanilla extract, preferaby alcohol free
1/4 to 1/3 cup raw (light colored) honey, such as clover or citrus honey or agavé nectar
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract powder (a brand with nothing added to it) or clear stevia extract liquid, optional

Whipping cream (yields 2 cups):
1 cup heavy whipping cream (see notes above)
1 tablespoon raw honey or agavé nectar
1/2 teaspon pure vanilla extract or alcohol-free vanilla flavoring
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract powder (a brand with nothing added to it) or clear stevia extract liquid, optional

4 strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced or 8 raspberries
2 to 4 tablespoons organic cocoa nibs
1.  Remove ricotta from the refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes before you begin.
2.  Break or chop the chocolate into pieces. Melt in a saucepan over very low heat. You can use a double boiler, but it’s not necessary.
3.  In a blender,Vita-Mix, or food processor combine the ricotta, melted chocolate, 1/4 cup honey, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Blend until very smooth. Add 1 1/3 tablespoons additional honey or agave. Taste and add 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon stevia for a sweeter taste. Divide mixture between 4 dessert cups or wine glasses and chill.
4.  In a glass or metal bowl, beat cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add 1 tablespoon honey and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat to combine. For a sweeter taste, add stevia and beat again.
5. Generously spoon whipped cream over the mousse. Fan strawberries or arrange raspberries over the top. Sprinkle with cocoa nibs, and serve. Refrigerate leftovers and use within 1 week.

Nutrition breakdown: not available


*   For a lighter mousse: At the end of step #3, spoon chocolate mousse into a large mixing bowl. After beating whipped cream in step #4, fold 2/3 of it into the chocolate mousse. Divide mousse between serving cups or wine glasses. Spoon remaining whipped cream on top, then garnish with fruit and/or cocoa nibs.

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