How to make chocolate mousse
Step 1: Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Photo: Eddie Jim EJZ
- More mousse recipes here
Some of the earliest versions of chocolate mousse began appearing in Paris in about the mid-1800s and the combination of dark chocolate and egg whites whipped to a light-as-air foam quickly became a favourite of chefs throughout France.
The advent of electric mixers made the dessert much more accessible to domestic cooks and by the 1960s it had become a staple at dinner parties. Sadly, along the way this classic dessert was adulterated with all manner of strange ingredients, becoming something you could buy in the refrigerator cabinet of your supermarket or worse, in a packet in the baking aisle.
Dessert specialist Pierre Roelofs of Cafe Rosamond in Fitzroy. Photo: Eddie Jim EJZ
Dessert master Pierre Roelofs is a fan of the classic recipe – a version without whipped cream or additional flavourings. It relies on the complex flavours of good dark chocolate and the extraordinary texture that comes from combining it with whipped eggs whites.
“I much prefer the simple approach of this recipe where the main attraction is the amazing texture coupled with a pure chocolate flavour.”
Roelofs uses this recipe as a component in chocolate desserts but is also happy to serve it on its own, without any garnish or accompaniment: “I don't think there is a need to embellish or muddle such a timeless classic” he says.
A great dessert for beginner cooks, there's little that can go wrong, the recipe doesn't require specialist equipment and the recipe only takes an easy 15 minutes from start to finish, plus setting time in the fridge.
Pierre Roelof's top tips for making chocolate mousse
Eggs: Make sure your eggs are room temperature – they'll be easier to whip and will be able to incorporate more air. Don't whisk the eggs too quickly, a medium speed is ideal.
Chocolate: Roelofs recommends using chocolate with 60-70 per cent cocoa solids, but he says it's all about taste – choose the chocolate you prefer but make sure it's very good quality. Avoid compound chocolate at all costs. If the chocolate comes in a block (instead of buttons) cut it into even pieces, about the size of chocolate freckles.
Salt: Don't leave out the salt in the recipe. It brings out the complexity of the chocolate and balances the sugar.
Serving: Divide the mousse into individual portions. Serving it from one large bowl means the texture of the mousse might be crushed by too many spoons. Choose small glass bowls so you can see the mousse.
There's only a few potential trouble spots for the inexperienced cook in this recipe.
- Using a bain marie: A bain marie is a method of cooking using a bowl heated by a small amount of simmering water and is used for gentle warming and to avoid scorching. However, even this method can result in burnt or ruined chocolate. To avoid this result keep the water in the pan at a simmer. If you have a gas cooktop, make sure the flames don't reach up the side of the pan. Using a snug fitting bowl will help.
- If you choose to melt your chocolate in the microwave, choose a low setting, then melt the chocolate in bursts of 30 seconds, stirring between each time.
- Whipping egg whites: Slow and steady does it. Bring your egg whites to soft peaks – stiff peaks will make mixing the whites into the chocolate more difficult.
- Make sure you have a clean bowl and beaters.
Pierre Roelofs' classic chocolate mousse
- 170g dark chocolate
- 80ml milk
- 20g icing sugar
- 4 egg whites
- 1 egg yolk
- a pinch of salt
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl over a simmering water bath, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. When the chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from the heat.
Gently bring the milk to a boil. Pour over the melted chocolate and slowly whisk. Add the egg yolk and salt, whisking until fully incorporated.
Whip eggs whites on medium speed until they reach a soft peak. Increase to medium high and gradually add sugar in a slow steady stream until the egg whites are firm and glossy. The chocolate mixture should be cooled by the time the egg whites are ready.
Add a third of the meringue to the chocolate mixture and gently whisk to combine and lighten the chocolate mixture. Switch to a large rubber spatula and gently fold in the remaining two-thirds of the meringue until the chocolate and egg whites are completely mixed.
Pour into individual servings and chill for an hour.
The mousse will become more dense over time, so don't leave it in the fridge too long. Mousse is best made the day it is to be served.
Variations: Use chocolate mousse as a component in trifle (layering it towards the top of the trifle so it won't be crushed by other layers).
Note: this recipe uses raw eggs, so make sure you use very fresh eggs from a reputable supplier. Some people should avoid food containing raw eggs. These groups include: pregnant women, young children, elderly people and anyone with an illness (www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au)
Pierre Roelofs dessert evenings are at Cafe Rosamond, rear 191A Smith Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, every Thursday from 7-11pm, no bookings.