The first time I made Peter Veldsman’s Sjokolade-Truffel-Mousse was the night before my eighteenth birthday. My life between the ages of sixteen and nineteen was very lonely, although not completely unhappy. In my ideal life I would have many friends and a house with a table where I could cook for them. At eighteen I had fewer than a handful friends, most of them old enough to be my parents, but I was intent on cooking a birthday lunch with a dessert that signified a different life, even if I had only one friend to ask to lunch that day, in the garden of my parent’s house, where I still lived. This chocolate mousse was that.
The process took three hours that night. It still does. Veldsman’s recipe, culled from the back of the Rapport Tydskrif somewhere in the early 90s and kept in my mother’s recipe file, is reminiscent of his French culinary training, and labour-intensive in a way that so much French cooking is, which is to say that anyone making it with any type of regularity certainly was not doing it themselves. It is also very, very good, and the recipe makes enough mousse to serve around twenty people, if not more. (Veldsman claims that it serves twelve, but the appetite of Afrikaners then must have been fucking enormous if that’s the case. I stick with twenty portions.)
It is everything I want in a special occasion dessert: the time and labour involved makes it feel worthy of a celebration, but the end product is something you actually really want to eat. It contains no sugar, written as it is for the chocolate available in South Africa in the 1990s, which was all quite sweet. So if you use chocolate with a higher percentage cocoa solids, I would adjust the sugar to counter the bitter bite of the chocolate. I also replace the fine instant coffee powder with some cold espresso, want ons drink nie Nescafé in hierdie huis nie. Although I should note that I have also made this with ground Ricoffy in times of need, and it turned out fine. If you want to use Koffiehuis, go away.
I still make it every year for my birthday. There are more people around the table now.
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Why did this post make me cry? Foktog.