100g best dark chocolate, 60–70%
2 green cardamom pods, seeds ground
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
small pinch ground chilli
small pinch fine sea salt
10g (½ tablespoon) unsalted butter
3 eggs, at room temperature
75g (⅓ cup) caster sugar
30g toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon cacao nibs
½ teaspoon black peppercorns, cracked
100ml (scant ½ cup) whipping cream
1½ tablespoons caster sugar
For a gentler romance, swap the spices in the mousse for a few drops of jasmine extract.

A bounty of reputed aphrodisiacs – chocolate, cinnamon, cardamom, chilli and black pepper – all come together to bring a sultry warmth. Chocolate has a curious affinity with spice, allowing it to take more heat than you’d think. I like my choc mousse pure and dark without cream and sugar. But then again, I use both as accompaniments in the form of softly whipped folds and crunchy pepper praline to balance the intensity. This way they offer contrast as well as harmony; after all isn’t that what we want from any union?

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1.Crack the chocolate into squares and put in a large heatproof bowl with the spices. Set above, not in, a pan of simmering water.
2.Once largely melted, remove from the heat and stir regularly to melt fully.
3.Melt in the salt and butter. Remove the bowl from the pan and leave to cool for a few minutes.
4.Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a large bowl and the yolks in a smaller one. Whisk the whites to stiff peaks.
5.Stir the egg yolks one at a time into the lukewarm chocolate until smooth.
6.Mix in a third of the whisked egg whites to lighten the mixture, then very gently fold in the rest, keeping in all the precious air bubbles.
7.Divide between two dishes, or one sharing bowl, and chill for at least 4 hours.
8.For the praline, line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
9.Heat the sugar without stirring in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat.
10.It will melt to form a deep amber caramel – if it starts browning before fully melting, lower the heat and swirl a little until it all catches up.
11.Stir in the hazelnuts, nibs and pepper and pour onto the parchment, spreading it out slightly.
12.Once set, chop into a mixture of chunks and smaller crumbs.
13.For the Chantilly cream, whisk the cream and sugar together to form soft peaks. Chill until serving.
14.Serve the praline and cream in separate bowls alongside the mousse so you can delve into each as you eat.
15.There is probably more praline and cream than you’ll need here, but now is not the time to be restrained.

Images and text from
A Whisper of Cardamom by
Eleanor Ford, photography
by Ola O. Smit. Murdoch
Books RRP $55.