Julia Child’s Chocolate Mousse

Okay look.  I don’t want to get all Julie & Julia on you, but come on.  If there is a better chocolate mousse recipe, anywhere in the entire freaking world, I don’t even want to know. This represents the absolutely quintessential chocolate mousse — silky, a little elastic on the spoon, rich, deep.

chocolate mousse

I’m a pretty firm believer of following this recipe to the letter — except when extraordinary circumstances dictate otherwise.  On occasion, the results can be revelatory — as it appears has happened today, when I had no orange liqueur and instead substituted 1/4 c of St. Germain, a spectacular glorious elven elixir elderflower liqueur.

I’m sure this recipe exists in a hundred other places on the Interwebs - but this version is the only version that has ever been transcribed out of my grandma’s first edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, bought for her by a possibly too-optimistic grandpa who I can guarantee you never had a chance to taste this mousse.  And also the only version wherein the instruction format is being slightly modified by me in an effort to transcribe a little faster.

chocolate FOR mousse

4 eggs, separated
3/4 c superfine sugar
1/4 c orange liqueur (except man this St. Germain is wicked)
6 oz semisweet chocolate
4 tbsp string coffee
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
pinch of salt
1 tbsp regular sugar

  1. Beat the egg yolks and superfine sugar together in a stainless steel bowl (trust me, it’ll come together even though that’s not much liquid) until it’s thick, pale yellow, and forms a good thick ribbon when you lift up the whisk.
  2. Beat in the liqueur.
  3. Set the mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat for a few minutes until it gets a little foamy and is too hot to touch.
  4. Put the mixing bowl in an ice bath and beat for another few minutes until the mix is cool.
  5. Melt the chocolate, chopped up, in the coffee.  Beat in the butter, a bit at a time, to form a smooth cream.
  6. Beat the chocomix into the eggmix.
  7. (Optional step: beat in 1/4 c finely diced, glazed orange peel.)
  8. Beat the egg whites and salt until you get soft peaks.  Add the regular sugar, and keep going until you have stiff peaks.
  9. Stir in a quarter of the whites into the other bowl until it’s well-mixed, and then gently fold in the rest.
  10. Distribute into whatever you want to serve it in — little bowls, a big bowl, whatever — and pop in the fridge for a couple hours at least, but preferably overnight.
  11. Try to refrain from secretly eating it all yourself in the middle of the night before anyone else has a chance to try any.
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