James Peterson calls this the Simplest Chocolate Mousse. No use kidding ourselves. The instructions below are direct but they may not strike you as simple. The truth is that grand mousse has those essential steps that you cannot avoid. Now, Peterson has streamlined the process, made it very clear, and presented you with a pathway that will give you something smooth, chocolate to the core, tender, delightful.
It’s worth every twist of the whisk.
Simplest Chocolate Mouse
Yield: 6 portions
- 6 large eggs, allowed to come to room temperature
- 2 tablespoons water or strong coffee
- 1 tablespoon Cognac, Grand Marnier, marc, kirsch, or any favorite brandy or liqueur (if you don’t want to include this, add 1 more tablespoon of water or coffee to the 2 tablespoons given above)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional if you’re using a brandy or liqueur)
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 6 ounces of the best bittersweet chocolate you can find, chopped coarse
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (unless you’re beating the egg whites in a copper bowl)
Separate the eggs, reserve the whites, and combine 4 of the egg yolks in a medium-size heat-proof mixing bowl (stainless steel is ideal) with the water, Cognac, vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. (Save the extra 2 egg yolks for something else or throw them out.) Set the bowl on top of a small saucepan of simmering water, but don’t let the bowl touch the water. Whisk the egg mixture until you begin to see the bottom of the bowl. Be sure you keep the whisk moving over the whole surface of the bowl or the eggs will overheat in those spots not touched by the whisk, and they’ll curdle. Take the bowl off the saucepan, immediately add the chocolate and butter and whisk until the mixture is smooth. If necessary, return the bowl to the saucepan of hot water to fully incorporate the ingredients.
Combine the egg whites with the cream of tartar in a mixing bowl (if you’re using a copper bowl, skip the cream of tartar). Beat the whites with a whisk (or the whisk attachment on an electric mixer) until the whites are fluffy and have formed soft peaks, 4 to 7 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue beating until the whites are smooth and stiff, 2 to 3 minutes more, depending on whether you’re beating by hand or with the electric mixer. To make sure you’ve beaten them enough, hold the whisk above the bowl. The whites should form a point that sticks straight out and doesn’t sag.
Whisk about one-fourth of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture until the mixture is smooth and you see no traces of white. (This is to lighten the mixture so it will fold more evenly into the chocolate mixture.) Pour this chocolate mixture over the beaten whites and fold together by cutting into the mixture with a plastic spatula, sliding the spatula along the bottom of the bowl (where the chocolate settles), and folding the chocolate over the whites. When the mousse is well combined, with no streaks of egg white, scoop it out into a large, pretty serving bowl or into individual bowls or ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap, pushing the wrap down so that it touches the surface of the mousse (otherwise a dark film will form). Chill the mousse in the refrigerator for 2 to 12 hours. Mousse will keep in the fridge for at least 3 days.
Source: Glorious French Food by James Peterson