Chocolate Mousse

February 10, 2009

The silky, creamy texture of chocolate mousse goes perfectly with the thought of a sensuous Valentine’s Day dessert. Whether you make it for your significant other, a group of friends or yourself, this chocolate mousse will likely lift your spirits and add a special touch to any loving celebration.

I truly enjoyed making this dessert. It was fun working with and smelling the aroma of the chocolate, as well as working with egg yolks and egg whites over indirect heat. Beating egg whites to fluffy perfection, whether soft or stiff peaks, is a key technique used in many recipes - particularly in baking. So making this recipe was good practice. The reward was a smooth and velvety treat.

This recipe is broken up into four main steps, but before you begin, the first thing you should do is separate your egg yolks and whites. Egg whites expand in volume better as you beat them if they have been brought to room temperature for about 30 minutes.

After prepping your eggs and other ingredients, the first main step is to melt your chocolate. When I bake with chocolate, I prefer to use bars over chips. I like the feel of breaking up the chocolate by hand or with a chef’s knife. Also, many recipes with chocolate call for specific ounces and I find that three or four ounce bars make for easy measuring. Therefore, my chocolate mousse recipe calls for bars, however, you can use chocolate chips.

One cup of chocolate chips yields about six ounces (not eight as in liquid measurements). My recipe calls for four ounces of bitter-sweet and semi-sweet chocolate, respectively. So if I were using chips, I would measure about 3/4 cup of chips to get four ounces of chocolate. Also, be sure to use a high quality brand of chocolate such as Ghirardelli or Scharffen Berger, or better yet, try a fair trade brand of chocolate (found in most “health food” stores). The quality of the chocolate will impact the overall flavor of the mousse.

Other key steps in the recipe include heating your egg yolk mixture as well as the egg whites mixture to appropriate temperatures (see recipe). While there are some recipes out there that don’t use eggs in mousse, traditional mousse is made with egg yolks and whites beaten to stiff peaks, and folded into the chocolate.

Have a happy Valentine’s Day, and enjoy! XOXO

Chocolate Mousse
About 6 – 8 servings

4-oz bar bitter-sweet chocolate, broken into large pieces
4-oz bar semi-sweet chocolate, broken into large pieces
4 tbs butter, unsalted
2 tbs dark rum
1 tsp vanilla extract

4 large egg yolks
(separate yolks and whites of 4 eggs before beginning)
2 tbs sugar
4 tbs water

4 large egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tarter

1 cup heavy cream
2 tbs powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mint leaves and extra whipped cream for garnish

Place a large sauce pan with 2-3 inches deep water in it over medium-low heat. Once small bubbles form at the bottom of the sauce pan (but water not boiling or simmering), place a glass or stainless steel bowl over the sauce pan (bottom of bowl should be fairly close to the water). Add chocolate, butter, rum and vanilla extract to the bowl and whisk together as ingredients melt. Once melted (takes about 5 minutes or so), remove bowl from sauce pan and set aside.

Place the yolks in another glass or stainless steel bowl. Add 2 tbs sugar and 4 tbs water to the bowl with the yolks and place over the sauce pan of water over medium-low heat. Whisk (with a clean whisk) the yolk mixture constantly until it becomes frothy and the temperature of the mixture reads 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer (about 6 – 8 minutes). Fold the yolk mixture into the chocolate mixture.

In another glass or stainless steel bowl, add the egg whites, 1/3 cup sugar and cream of tarter over the sauce pan of water over medium-low to medium heat and whisk constantly until it reads 140 degrees F on an instant read thermometer (about 3 – 5 minutes). Remove bowl from sauce pan and beat the egg whites mixture on high speed with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form (about 5 – 8 minutes). Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until combined.

In a small bowl, whip the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract on high speed until it becomes fluffy whipped cream (don’t over whip to the point where it becomes butter). Fold the whipped cream into the mousse until completely combined. Cover and refrigerate mousse for at least three hours or up to 24 hours. Serve in wine or martini glasses and garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and/or a small sprig of mint leaves.

NOTE: You can freeze any leftover mousse and eat it frozen or let it thaw a little. It’s kind of like ice cream.

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