inspired by Where Cooking Begins, p. 263
- 8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (or discs, or a bar, whatever)
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter (do I really need to say unsalted each time?)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1/8 tsp Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt + a few pinches more
- 4 large eggs, separated (save time and put the whites in your mixer’s mixing bowl and put it in the fridge for optimal whip-age)
- 1/2 c. sugar, divided
- Put chocolate and butter in a large, heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water.
- Cook, stirring occasionally until it’s all melted and smooth - may be around 5 mins but don’t grip too tightly to the times with this recipe. Use your instinct.
- Remove from heat and add the almond extract and 1/8 tsp salt.
- Sit it aside to cool.
- In a medium heatproof bowl, briefly whisk together egg yolks and 1/4 c. sugar.
- Place this over the simmering pot of water and cook, whisking constantly (really!) until very thick, lightened in color, fluffy, and sugar is dissolved. 3-4 mins?
- Remove from heat and whisk 1 tsp vanilla extract and a pinch of salt.
- Sit aside to cool, whisking occasionally.
- In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, whip your chilled egg whites on medium for a minute just to turn them white vs. clear.
- Add pinch of salt and increase speed to medium-high, whisking into foamy soft peaks form. 2-4 minutes maybe? It’s a great time to give the yolk mixture a whisk!
- Gradually add remaining 1/4 c. sugar and beat until stiff, shiny, glossy peaks form. Also 2-4 minutes? If you stop and lift the beater, the whites should look elastic and bouncy but will stand straight up with a point that only hints at curling over.
- Gently but thoroughly fold egg yolk mixture into the chocolate bowl until no streaks remain.
- Gently fold in one-third of egg whites until combined - it’s okay if it’s a little streaky but not too streaky.
- Now for the even gentler part - add remaining egg whites and ever so gently fold them into the bowl until no white streaks remain. It’s imperative to the texture of the final dish to not knock the air out, but you do need to make it uniform in color. I usually take the “around the outside and through the middle” approach to gentle stirring (as I attempted to emphasize in my illustration). Also, be sure to scrape the spatula along bottom of bowl where chocolate tends to collect.
- Spoon mousse in tiny containers or large baking dish and cover tightly.
- Put in fridge at least 6 hours, but a day is very safe.
This is my favorite dessert and has been for as long as I remember. Though, I could probably pinpoint the introduction sometime after my cousin married a French guy with great cooking skills. Was it at their home? Was it at Maw-Maw’s house on a visit? The restaurant he owned? I’m not sure. I just know it was a treat, especially to a kid from Western NC whose everyday desserts were things like Chewy Chips Ahoy, a plastic tub of Orange Sherbet + vanilla ice cream, or grocery store cake. Even as an adult, the only time I see it on a menu is in Europe or at a pointedly European restaurant in the US.
I was deeply and utterly beside myself when I first made this - another pandemic project. It was also satisfying to finally make it for other people, only to understand that it really isn’t as good if you don’t let it chill for over 4 hours. It’s delightfully simple as long as you know what to do (husband will probably scoff at this and tell me that’s the opposite of simple). Last time, it truly took me 30 minutes to whip it up (pun). Given, it’s a very active and time-sensitive 30 minutes. But it’s still 30 minutes and several hours wait - I have found 24 hours to be a safe bet.
Also, another joyful way to use fresh eggs!