Perugia, famous for its Baci Perugina chocolates (that I love!), has always been a place I've wanted to visit. However, these rich, nutty chocolates weren't the only reason I wanted to see this beautiful capital city of Umbria, for it is also rich in history, architecture, art and culture.
The medieval heart of Perugia, situated on top of a hill, surrounded by an ancient wall overlooking lush Umbrian countryside, is best explored by foot.
Walk through steep, narrow alleys and end up in the historic Piazza IV Novembre to get a feel for what this area must have been like when it was the meeting place for Etruscan and Roman cultures centuries ago. Just to stand here is to feel a part of this incredible history!
Here you will come across remnants of Etruscan architecture, Gothic looking medieval palaces turned into fabulous art museums, a magnificent cathedral and the spectacular Fontana Maggiore (fountain). There are lots of cafes and some really good restaurants here as well.
The food we ate in Perugia was inventive, delicious and made with locally sourced ingredients. But the desserts took 'local' to a whole new level! We had a fantastic chocolate mousse in a wonderful restaurant called La Taverna, just steps away from Piazza IV Novembre. Not surprisingly, it was made with local Baci Perugina chocolate and was decadently chocolatey, topped with toasted nuts.
For a creamier mousse, increase the quantity of whipping cream to one cup. Serve with a wafer for scooping! Check out another Italian dessert that I love - Tiramisu!
3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
3 tbsp water
1/4 cup white sugar, divided
4 oz semi sweet or Baci Perugina chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup 35% whipping cream
Half fill a large saucepan with water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer.
Meanwhile, combine 3 egg yolks, 3 tbsp sugar and 3 tbsp water in a rounded bowl big enough to fit over the saucepan without touching the water.
Beat with a whisk until thickened, increased in volume and lightened in colour, about 4 min.
Remove bowl from heat (keep water simmering on stove for later possible use), and add the chocolate, stirring until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. If chocolate lumps remain, place bowl back over the simmering water for a few seconds, stirring all the while, until chocolate is smooth. Reserve.
In separate bowl, beat egg whites with hand mixer, until soft peaks form.
Fold half the beaten egg whites into chocolate base, taking care not to stir too much. Fold in remaining beaten egg whites, stirring gently until just incorporated.
Wash and dry hand mixer blades. In separate bowl, beat whipping cream and remaining 1 tbsp sugar with hand mixer until thickened, about 5 min.
Fold cream into chocolate mousse base, stirring gently until just combined.
Cover and refrigerate 12 hours or longer.
Serves four - six