This recipe isn’t Japanese, but I had to include it because I love the technique so much. It was invented as ‘chocolate chantilly’ by the chemist and food scientist Hervé This, who realised that a suspension of melted chocolate in water has the same kind of physical makeup as double (heavy) cream, so it can be whipped as such. The result is a fabulously light mousse that tastes of pure chocolate – because that’s what it is. The richness of the mousse is balanced by cherries mixed with a bit of whisky, and the miso-roasted pecans add a fantastic salty-nutty crunch. I love this dessert because it looks quite retro, but the flavour is entirely modern.
15 g (⅔ oz/1 tablespoon) miso
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
60 g (2 oz/generous ½ cup) pecan halves
175 ml (6 fl oz/ ¾ cup) water
200 g (7 oz) dark (plain unsweetened) chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
ice, for chilling
1 x 400 g (14 oz) tin cherry pie filling
4 tablespoons Japanese whisky or bourbon, or any not-too-smoky whisky
To make the miso-roasted pecans:
Preheat the oven to 160ºC (320ºF/Gas 4)
Mix together the miso, sesame oil and sugar in a bowl
Use your hands to coat the pecans with the miso mixture
Then spread out on a baking sheet and roast for 10–15 minutes (check them after 10), until deep brown.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
To make the mousse:
Bring the water to a simmer then add the chocolate and vanilla extract. Simmer until the chocolate is completely melted, then pour into a mixing bowl.
Place this bowl inside another bowl half-filled with ice and a bit of water, then whisk the chocolate water as if you were whipping cream.
As it cools it will thicken and aerate – stop whipping when the chocolate holds a trail, NOT when it forms peaks, because it is very easy to over-whip. However, if the mixture siezes up and goes grainy, you can just re-melt the chocolate and start over.
Scoop the mousse into glasses, ideally crystal so it all looks sufficiently 1970s. Stir the cherry pie filling together with the whisky, then spoon that on top of the mousse.
Cover and refrigerate until 30 minutes before serving.
Garnish with the miso pecans just before tucking in.
Recipe extracted from Vegan JapanEasy by Tim Anderson (Hardie Grant, £22) Photography by Nassima Rothacker