When I first came to this country, someone let me borrow a little TV set, with the intent to help me perfect my language skills even more. To my great surprise, on most afternoons this brilliant and exquisitely talented, yet unconventional and very funny chef, named Julia Child, introduced Americans to the broader idea of gourmet cuisine. One afternoon she taught the delicate ways of preparing mousse. I had already been introduced to the making of chocolate mousse in Europe, but due to the delicate nature of this dessert, and the resulting inevitable failures, it sadly never became a regular dessert in our family. Julia’s version of chocolate mousse is actually made with raw ingredients and unbaked and is quite wonderful. As she revolutionized the way we think about food, she, in turn, encouraged so many of us to be daring, and develop our own creations, as long as we always remember to have fun along the way. Cooking, as an art, is something that is meant to be shared.
Since these early days of being introduced to Mrs. Child’s approach to cooking, which was always encouraging, since it also allowed one to fail (?!?), other people came into my life and introduced me to their version of chocolate mousse. Everyone had their own special way of making it. My favorite is this fairly easy to create version. In its finished state, the light outer crust remains still soft, and the inner molten chocolate is creamy and rich. The best part is that it can be prepared way ahead of time and kept in the freezer for up to one week. Very helpful when you anticipate a large number of guests. To come back to Julia, she informed us that the French word mousse means “lather”, or “foam,” referring to the dessert’s light and fluffy texture. Depending on which recipe you use, different versions of mousse can be either light and fluffy, or rather creamy and thick. It is typically made with eggs, butter, sugar and chocolate. Some also call for cream and may contain rum, or cognac. As mentioned, the traditional French recipes are not baked and therefore contain raw eggs. Other versions of mousse are savory and not sweet at all. We will present a savory version over the next few days.
For this dessert, it is always best to start with the highest quality chocolate available to you. It should be at least 65% cacao. We discovered a favorite at Trader Joe’s called Semi-sweet Chocolate Callets.
This recipe will make about 12 4-oz. servings. If you have oven-proof coffee cups available, they lend themselves exceptionally well for the presentation of this recipe. Sadly, we did not have this option available to us and used little ramekins instead, which also work out very well. But any small oven-proof dishes will do. You will need these ingredients:
- 2 8-0z. packets of semi-sweet chocolate callets (or 16 oz. of bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
- 6 large organic high omega-3 eggs, separated
- 1/4 tsp. Himalaya salt
- 1 cup sucanat, or evaporated cane juice
1. If you have a double boiler pan, add about 1-inch of water to the bottom part and bring to a simmer. Otherwise, use a smaller saucepan, add 1-inch water and set a separate stainless steel bowl over the top, being careful to not let the bowl touch the water directly. To the top of the double boiler pan, or into the separate metal bowl, combine the chocolate and butter.
Heat over low heat until the chocolate is almost completely melted. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Set aside.
2. Separate the eggs (egg whites in one bowl, egg yolks in another). Whisk the egg whites with a mixer set on medium speed and blend in the salt. Continue to whisk until foamy. Slowly sift in the sucanat while the mixer is still running. Continue to whisk until soft peaks form. Set aside.
3. Stir the egg yolks into the warm chocolate mixture until completely blended.
4. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold in the egg whites. Do not mix or stir, just slowly fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.’ Gentle’ is the key word here, otherwise the fluffy egg whites will collapse, which of course form the main basis for the success of the mousse.
5. Add the chocolate mousse to the oven proof dishes (about 4 oz. per serving, if you are looking to make 12 servings). Cover each dish with plastic wrap. Set the dishes inside a glass baking dish and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours. It can be made ahead of time and kept in the freezer for a few days – but not more than one week. Keep in freezer until ready to serve.
6. Preheat oven to 300°F. Remove the frozen mousse from freezer. Remove the plastic wrap.
Add about 1/2-inch of water to the bottom of the glass baking dish and bake until the mousse puffs up (about 30 minutes). It should be lightly cracked around the edges, but still moist in the center. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
It is normal for the mousse to flatten out a little bit, once cooled.
This is a favorite dessert for any chocolate lover. ENJOY!