Chocolate St Emilion

By 1st March 2021No Comments

An indulgent dessert full of contrasts – sweet and bitter, rich and light, creamy and boozy, and all capped with a hidden treat in the middle.

The origin of this dish is folklore, but we somewhat owe its place on british menus to George Perry-Smith, the father of a culinary revolution in the 1950s at his restaurant in Bath The Hole in the Wall. Legend has it he discovered a recipe for St. Emilion au Chocolat on a box of matches while travelling around France. He brought the recipe back and put it straight on the menu. Variations have since been developed by other chefs including Joyce Molineux, Simon Hopkinson, and Carmel Somers, the latter of whom is responsible for the addition of coffee to the dish, while another version of the dish appears in Elizabeth David’s book French Country Cooking.


Serves 6

  • 125g ground almonds
  • 150g sugar (white or gold is fine, likewise caster or granulated – what you choose will just change the colour and texture)
  • 1tbsp cornflour
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 225 good quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • ½ tbsp instant coffee
  • 140ml water
  • 4 large eggs, separated 
  • Whipped cream for serving

  1. First, make the macaroons. Preheat the oven to 160oC. Mix together the almonds, sugar, and cornflour in a mixing bowl until well combined. A little at a time, add the egg whites, mixing as you go. You’ve added enough eggwhite when the mixture resembles a very thick paste.
  2. Dollop the almond paste onto a baking tray lined with parchment, one teaspoon at a time. Flatten and smooth slightly so that you have circles of the paste about an inch wide. Transfer to the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, checking regularly. They are ready once risen slightly and starting to brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  3. Once cool, pour brandy over the macaroons and allow to soak
  4. To make the chocolate mousse, begin by, bringing the water and instant coffee to the boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, mixing until melted, then leave until cool to the touch.
  5. Having separated 4 large eggs, add the yolks to the chocolate mixture and whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture with a silver spoon.
  6. Transfer the chocolate mixture into a jug and pour into ramekins or tumblers about ¾ of the way up. Place a macaroon on top of the chocolate mixture and press down to submerge. Transfer to the fridge.
  7. 30 mins before serving, remove the moose from the fridge. Serve with a quenelle of whipped cream.

N.B. For a more socialised serving, you could pour the chocolate mixture into a large serving dish and submerge the macaroons throughout the mixture.