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Spiced Chocolate Mousse with Shortbread Hearts

by Emma Marsden from Heart On A Plate

A gorgeous chocolate dessert recipe from Emma Marsden's Heart on a Plate cookbook. It's perfect for Valentine's Day or a romantic meal.


The flavours of cardamom and orange in this mousse, served with crisp spiced shortbread, complement each other beautifully. If you prefer a slightly less rich mousse, use 25g milk chocolate and 75g dark chocolate.


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100g dark chocolate (about 50% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
1 tsp brandy
10g butter
seeds from 2 cardamom pods, ground
1 orange
2 large eggs, separated
25g caster sugar
edible gold dust
25g golden caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
50g butter
75g plain flour, plus extra, for dusting
a large pinch of mixed spice
a large pinch of salt

Essential kit

You will need a 4cm heart-shaped cutter and a 5cm heart-shaped cutter.


You will need:

4cm heart-shaped cutter

5cm heart-shaped cutter

Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5.

First make the shortbread. Beat the sugar and butter together in a bowl until the mixture looks soft and creamy. Stir in the flour, spice and salt to make a crumbly texture, then bring it all together with your hands to make a dough.

Lightly dust a board with flour and roll out the dough to a thickness of 3mm. Stamp out 4 hearts with a 4cm heart-shaped cutter, and another 4 hearts with a 5cm heart-shaped cutter. Transfer them all to a plate and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Once chilled, use a skewer to prick small holes around each heart to create a decorative border and bake for 15-20 minutes, until just coloured. Transfer to a wire rack and dust liberally with caster sugar.

Now make the mousse. Set a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Put the chocolate pieces, brandy and butter in the bowl and slowly melt together. Grate in the zest from half the orange and stir in the ground cardamom. Take the bowl off the heat and set aside to cool.

Beat together the egg yolks and sugar. Carefully stir this into the chocolate mixture.

In a separate clean bowl, beat the egg whites until they stand in soft peaks. Fold a third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder. Divide the mousse between 4 teacups and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Just before serving, peel 8 thin strips of the remaining zest from the orange. Arrange 2 strips in a heart shape on top of each mousse. Sprinkle over a little gold dust then serve with the biscuits.

Photography © Sarah Cuttle.

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