Sweet of the Week: Chocolate Mousse and Citrus at mk The Restaurant
Chocolate frequently gets paired with a lot of bedfellows, from peanut butter and cherries to vanilla, chilies, red wine, and strawberries. The list goes on. Chocolate sleeps around. But my favorite pairing for chocolate has always been something more on the citrusy side. As a kid (and let's be honest, as an adult), I always favored the chocolate-orange candies over chocolate-cherry cordials and Reese's cups. That splash of tangy citrus really livened up the chocolate and balanced out the richness, preventing palate fatigue and creating an alluring and downright refreshing snack. Speaking of being an adult, the best example I've seen of citrus and chocolate pairings was at a recent dinner at mk The Restaurant, where pastry chef Lisa Bonjour tempered a decadent orange-scented chocolate mousse with candied kumquat.
Chocolate desserts tend to get bogged down with excess. Too much frosting, too much cake, too much this, and too much that. By nature, chocolate is an ingredient prone to excess, which is all well and good for ravenous chocoholics who can't get enough, but for those who prefer a little balance and some refreshment with their dinner finale, some fruity components are essential. Capping off a recent Elizabeth David-inspired tasting menu, mk's pastry chef Bonjour served up a chocolate dessert mercifully lax in excess. She managed to take a dark chocolate mousse, something that typically dries out the mouth and fills the stomach in one bite, and even it out by infusing it with orange and sprinkling it with candied kumquats. A heady bed of cocoa nibs and cocoa crumble provide some crunch and some deep, dark chocolate undertones, and the mousse lends that welcome silky mouthfeel, but it's the orange and the kumquats that really make the dish. Each bite of mousse is interwoven with vivid splashes of citrus, the orange more sweet and smooth and the kumquat tending more towards tart and acidic. Altogether, it's a masterwork in balance, exhibiting Bonjour's innate talent for manipulating and fine-tuning chocolate.
- Matt Kirouac