Switzerland has been producing chocolate since the 17th century, with the biggest boom of new chocolate companies opening in the late 19th and early 20th century. Although some of the smaller companies have now been bought up by huge conglomerates like Nestlé and Kraft, today there are many independent Swiss chocolate factories that have been around for more than a century.
Switzerland revolutionized chocolate production in two ways. In the 1870s Daniel Peter made milk chocolate using powdered milk. Perhaps most importantly, in 1879 Rodolphe Lindt invented the conching process. The chocolate of that time was gritty and not smooth, but Lindt used a machine to press and grind the chocolate together into the smooth mass that we are used to today. He also was the first to add the cocoa butter from the cocoa bean back into the chocolate, refining it even more.
Today the chocolate industry in Switzerland is still booming, with the Swiss themselves consuming the highest proportion of chocolate worldwide. In 2014 each citizen ate an average of nine kilograms of chocolate.
I surely did. And one of my favorite ways to consume Swiss chocolate is in mousse form. Here is a simple recipe to help you up your chocolate consumption too. Because you know, chocolate could help you win a Nobel prize...
200 g (Swiss) chocolate, chopped
3 egg whites
250 ml whipping cream
First, melt the chocolate. Put a large pot of water on high heat and set a large bowl on top of it (stainless steel works best). Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat, then add the chocolate to the bowl on top. This should melt with the residual heat (be patient), but if it is taking too long, briefly turn the heat back on.
Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks (they hold their form).
Once the chocolate has cooled but is still liquid, whisk in one third of the whipped egg whites. Gently fold in the other two thirds with a spatula.
In the same bowl you used to whip the whites, pour in the cream and whip it. On high speed this should take about a minute, but be careful not to overwhip, or the mousse with be grainy.
Fold in the cream, then cover and chill in the fridge for at least two hours before serving.
If you are concerned about the raw egg whites in this recipe, use pasteurized egg whites.
If you slightly over whip the cream, you can add a little more liquid cream and give it a good mix, this sometimes evens things out.