Monday, May 05, 2008


Chocolate Mousse

The first chocolate mousse I ever ate came out of a box. Mum must have added water or some other liquid, stirred it into the dry ingredients, which probably included gelatine and powdered milk, and let the creamy chocolate-looking mixture "set up" in the fridge some time before dinner. (I say "included," but it would not surprise me if one could still purchase it or some other post-modern variant.) I used to love "mousse" as a kid. But, of course, I am no longer a kid, and I now know better - however nostalgic the photos for today's post look (bad lighting on account of heavy, dark clouds that make my usually vivid yellow background that strange "70s ochre" of my parents' kitchen counters when I was a child), the contents are not from a box. What is ridiculous is that one does not need to depend on an instant dessert kit to make chocolate mousse - the few ingredients required and recipe are simplicity itself. And for those who are vegetarian, there is no need to look away from this recipe, for no gelatine is needed to stabilise the mousse (the chilling of the mousse keeps the whipped egg whites from breaking down).

I have not made chocolate mousse that often, but when I do make it, I tell anyone who wants to eat it that it is rich. I do not do what chefs and cookery writers conservatively often suggest: a combination of bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate to please all palates (and, I suspect, to give the chocolate more dimension). I love bittersweet chocolate, and though I tell myself that cream works to balance out the acidity of the chocolate, it does actually make the dessert richer. Of course, the chocolate you use will impart its own properties - for example, a dark chocolate from Madagascar generally has fruity notes; whereas a dark chocolate from the Ivory Coast may impart cinnamon and coffee notes. I rely on Valrhona's Guanaja when making chocolate desserts because of its intense chocolate aroma with subtle berry notes. (If you have no clue about the properties of the chocolate bars available in today's market, and if you do not mind subjectivity, check out the incredible array of chocolate bars reviewed at

The following recipe, loosely adapted from Lindsey Remolif Shere's Chez Panisse Desserts, can be improved upon depending on your proclivities. In fact, you can stick to Ms. Remolif Shere's recipe to the T and add two tablespoons of cognac or brandy (or, by extrapolation, any booze). I chose to omit the brandy (I know - Shock! Horror!) because I was serving the mousse to people who are sensitive to brandy, which is to say that they do not care for it at all. I substituted the potential differentiation in liquid with a little extra cream.

The following recipe makes approximately 3 1/4 cups.

Chocolate Mousse
(Adapted from Lindsey Remolif Shere's Chez Panisse Desserts)

180g/6oz 70% dark/bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons coffee from freshly ground beans (you could use water instead)
4 eggs, separated
1 cup + 2 tablespoons whipping cream

1) Melt the chocolate with the coffee in a glass bowl suspended over a pot of simmering water (make sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). Stir frequently.
2) Remove chocolate from heat as soon as it has melted and is smooth and glossy.
3) Whisk the egg yolks into the melted chocolate.
4) Beat the egg whites in a steel bowl until they hold very soft peaks.
5) Fold one quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder. The addition of one quarter at the beginning creates a ligter mixture that is receptive to a quick folding of the rest of the egg whites - it prepares their reception! A quick folding is essential in order to prevent the egg whites from deflating too much.
6) Whip the cream until soft peaks are formed (stiffer peaks creat a foamy texture).
7) Fold the cream into the chocolate mixture.
8) Evenly divide the chocolate mixture into your serving vessels - I usually use wine glasses.
9) Chill in the refrigerator.
10) Take the mousse out five minutes before serving in order to make it more palatable (too much chill is not fun for the teeth, and it masks some of the subtle flavours of the mousse). Use this time to consider topping the mousse.

As you can see, I whipped up 1/4 cup of cream until soft peaks were achieved and then stirred in 1 tablespoon of hazelnut syrup. I spooned the cream over each mousse and garnished them with grated chocolate.

Though cool to the tongue, the richness of the chocolate and silky texture make chocolate mousse an appropriate and welcome Autumnal dessert. The variations are endless - you can use different chocolates, a little alcohol...I already have my eyes on Lindsey Remolif Shere's recipe for Frozen Caramel Mousse!

Richness upon richness!

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NICE Blog :)
Hi Shaun, lovely mousse. Oh how I love chocolate mousse!! I hope you do make the frozen caramel mousse - that sounds great as well.

P.S. I've tagged you!
I love mousse, though don't often make it. It's actually one of the few desserts my Dad will make and it's always wonderfully rich!
Hey, there's nothing wrong with this: that strange "70s ochre" of my parents' kitchen counters when I was a child) :)
I haven't made mousse in years...your post is initiating cravings which must be satisfied.

Yes, that yellow...still in my parents' kitchen, courtesy the fridge and floor...I believe the colour was called "harvest gold."

Semi ~ Welcome! Thank you for stopping by. Hope to see you again.

Kelly-Jane ~ Mousse is very rich and not to be consumed too often, but it is heavenly whenever made - and it is a crowd-pleaser. I have noted the tag.

Brilynn ~ It's been a while since I've seen you around these parts! It is funny what moves our parents to make dessert and what doesn't. Dad makes a great bread and butter pudding and mum makes a fabulous strawberry cheesecake; they don't bother making other desserts. I wonder what will be my go-to dessert(s) in 20+ years from now.

Cynthia ~ You're right, there is nothing "wrong" with it, but looking back it is hilariously outdated and so incompatible with Kiwi decor.

Jasmine, honey ~ Harvest Gold has a nicer ring to it than `70s Ochre, but it is funny how many people in our age group remember that colour! Always satisfy cravings - we both know life is too short to do otherwise.
The mousse is just like you .... lush!
Chocolate mousse is one of my favourites when it is done well, yet I hardly ever make it. I like most variations from the rich and dark to the light and frothy. I'll be checking back for that frozen caramel mousse. It sounds divine!
Anthony ~ You cheeky sod. Consider it a birthday gift. It is around the time of your b/day, no?

Antonia ~ Welcome! Like you, I hardly make chocolate mousse; it is too rich to have often but always a treat nonetheless.
Shaun, at least over here, being called a 'lush' is a compliment! Take it as one. Yes, the bday is just 7 days away, sigh
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