Throwback Thursday #tbt, Presents The Best Chocolate Mousse Recipe
Our Throwback Thursday column is all about reminiscing and nostalgia and it doesn’t get any better than Julie Child’s Chocolate Mousse recipe from her Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One. This book was the very first cookbook I purchased (see Buying Cookbooks) and I set about making as many recipes that I could working out of a dorm kitchen. This was 1979. If only I had been as smart as Julie Powell of Julia & Julie fame. Oh well, but basically I was similarly enamored and particularly remember making the Reine de Saba, Crepes Suzette, steamed mussels, trussing chickens and mastering a classic white sauce. I also remember reading and re-reading sections about aspic but never attempting any of them. The Chocolate Mousse recipe, however, has remained the recipe that I have returned to most often. Julia refers to it collectively as Mousseline au Chocolat, Mayonnaise au Chocolat and Fondant au Chocolat. What distinguishes her version is that there is no whipped cream folded into the mixture. Rather this dessert is rich in chocolate, egg yolks, lots of butter (so Julia), coffee and orange liqueur and lightened with whipped egg whites. Classic, rich and oh, so French. Don’t be afraid of the quantity of butter; it is not a mistake. Your tongue, taste buds, tummy and brain will thank me –I mean, her. Thank you, Julia Child.
Note that Julia references other recipes by their page numbers, which obviously have no relation to this site, but it points to the layout of the book and its raison d’etre. The idea was to present French cooking –the basics and a general approach –and I want you to have a feel for the way Julia teaches us how to cook. And as many of the recipes are classics of French cuisine, certain ones do build upon others. Also note that the ingredients are interspersed with suggested equipment. I have tried to stick as close as possible to the book’s original format and presentation. If you do not have this book in your collection, it is an omission that should be rectified.
- Use large eggs
- I used semisweet chocolate in the 55% range
- I used Domino superfine sugar for the recipe with both the egg yolks as well as the egg whites, eliminating the need for two different kinds of sugar
- I have used both Grand Marnier and Triple Sec liqueurs and both work very well
- I prefer the recipe without the optional orange peel, which adds a chewy texture to the super-smooth mousse
- I like to serve the mousse in individual portions, topped with whipped cream.
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One, by Julia Child, Luisette Bertholl and Simone Beck. Published by Knopf, 1961.
Here is Julia’s Intro:
Among all the recipes for chocolate mousse this is one of the best, we think; it uses egg yolks, sugar, and butter, and instead of cream, beaten egg whites. The orange flavoring suggested here is delicious with chocolate. An interchangeable version is charlotte Malakoff on page 607, made of butter, chocolate, and powdered almonds. Either may be unmolded after chilling, or served in a bowl, or in dessert cups, or in little covered pots. (Note: When served in pots, this dessert is sometimes erroneously called pots de crème au chocolat. French dessert crèmes are custards, such as those on pages 610 –11).
- A 3-quart porcelain or stainless steel mixing bowl
- A wire whip or electric beater
- 4 egg yolks
- ¼ cup instant sugar (very finely granulated)
- ¼ cup orange liqueur
- A pan of not-quite-simmering water
- A basin of cold water
- 6 ounces or squares semisweet baking chocolate
- 4 Tb strong coffee
- A small saucepan
- 6 ounces or 1 ½ sticks softened unsalted butter
- Optional: ¼ cup finely diced, glazed orange peel
- 4 egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 1 Tb granulated sugar
- 2 cups vanilla-flavored crème anglaise (custard sauce) page 588, or lightly whipped cream sweetened with powdered sugar, page 580.
- Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until mixture is thick, pale yellow, and falls back upon itself forming a slowly dissolving ribbon. Beat in the orange liqueur. Then set mixing bowl over the not-quite-simmering water and continue beating for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is foamy and too hot for your finger. Then beat over cold water for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is cool again and forms the ribbon. It will have the consistency of mayonnaise.
- Melt the chocolate with the coffee over hot water. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter a bit at a time, to make a smooth cream. Beat the chocolate into the egg yolks and sugar, then beat in the optional orange peel.
- Beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed, page 159. Stir one fourth of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the rest.
- Turn into serving dish, dessert cups, or petits pots. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Pass the sauce or whipped cream separately.
Images: Peter Muka