The first time I made chocolate mousse I was a young bride with a brand-new, two volume copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Long before Julie whatsername thought it up, I cooked my through both books, including puff pastry. Only blogs hadn't been invented yet and that's why I'm not rich and famous.
The recipe for chocolate mousse is in the first volume of Mastering the Art, authored by Child, Louise Bertholle and Simone Beck. It requires 4 egg yolks, 1/4 cup superfine sugar, 1/4 cup orange liqueur, simmering water, cold water, 6 ounces of chocolate, a tablespoon of strong coffee, 1 1/2 sticks of butter, 4 egg whites, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of granulated sugar. A quarter cup of finely diced, glazed orange peel is optional. The instructions are, basically, beat, beat, melt, beat, beat, beat, beat, fold, refrigerate and serve.
This is a fantastic mousse–hefty on the tongue but satin smooth. The eggs give it substance and structure. The fat gives it silkiness and the beating gives it wings.
I've made it twice since 1973.
Because I fell for what our family calls "idiot mousse," a recipe my mother brought home from cooking classes she took with Helen Corbitt, the grande dame of Texas cooking.
It calls for 3 ounces of semi-sweet and one ounce of bitter chocolate, 1/4 cup honey, a teaspoon of instant coffee, 1 1/2 tablespoons of cognac and a cup of cream, whipped. Fresh raspberries are optional.
I've made this many times, as a stand-alone mousse, as a filling for sponge cake rolls, as a cake filling.
But today, on the internet, duh, I saw the simplest recipe for chocolate mousse yet, and I made it immediately. Maybe you saw it too–it was up on Yahoo! but it was from food52.com and the original recipe was one given by Herve This to Wired magazine in 2007. This is the so-called "father" of molecular gastronomy; he's a French physical chemist whose specialty is exploring the why of cooking–why protein toughens at a certain temperature, why you need to add egg yolks one at a time, why things curdle, etc.
Mousse, or creme Chantilly, it turns out, expands because of a particular proportion of fat to water to air. That means you can make a mousse with just two ingredients in about the time it takes you to read this blog.
I did it.
Put 3/4 cup water in a saucepan. Add 8 ounces of excellent, bittersweet chocolate. Stir till melted.
Pour the mixture into a bowl, put that bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice and water
and beat the chocolate vigorously with a wire whisk.
Beat it until it's the consistency of whipped cream, then very quickly pour it into pretty serving dishes. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving. Top with whipped cream.