Here is a queen among chocolate mousses, lighter than some because beaten egg whites are folded in instead of whipped cream. But it is every bit as richly flavored as the most devout chocolate cultist could wish, and the subtle aroma of good liqueur brings out that chocolate essence to perfection. You will note that egg yolks are sugar beaten over hot water before the rest of the ingredients go in; this step has the triple function of cooking the yolks, dissolving the sugar, and giving a lightness and cohesion to the mixture. Butter, which goes in later, gives it body and suppleness as well. Plan to make the mousse several hours or the day before serving, as it must be well chilled; you can even freeze it. Serve the mousse in a bowl, in dessert cups, or in little covered china pots; or for drama, you can mold it.
Melting the Chocolate
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate bits, or 6 squares semisweet baking chocolate
- 4 tablespoons strong coffee
- A small saucepan and wooden spoon for stirring the chocolate
- A larger pan with almost-simmering water
Place the chocolate and coffee in the small saucepan. Remove the larger pan with water from heat and place chocolate pan in it. Stir for a minute or so until chocolate begins to melt, then let it melt slowly over the hot water while you go on with the recipe.
The Egg Yolks and Sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- A 3-quart mixing bowl or the large bowl of an electric mixer
- A large wire whip
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (instant superfine if possible)
- ¼ cup orange liqueur, rum, or Benedictine, or strained orange juice, or strong coffee
- A pan of almost-simmering water
Place egg yolks in mixing bowl and start beating with whip while gradually pouring in the sugar in a thin stream. Continue beating for 2 to 3 minutes until mixture is thick, pale, and forms a slowly dissolving ribbon when a bit is lifted and falls back onto the surface. Beat in the liqueur or other liquid, and set the bowl in a pan of almost-simmering water. Beat at moderate speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until foamy and warm when tested with your finger. Remove the bowl from the hot water and either beat the mixture in mixer for several minutes until cool, or set it in a bowl of cold water and beat with your wire whip. It should again form the ribbon, and have the consistency of thick, creamy mayonnaise.
Adding Butter and Chocolate
- 1 ½ sticks (6 ounces) softened unsalted butter
- Stir the chocolate again and continue until perfectly smooth. Gradually beat the softened butter into the chocolate. Beat the chocolate and butter into the yolks and sugar.
The Egg Whites
- 4 egg whites, room temperature
- A very clean, dry bowl and beater
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons instant superfine granulated sugar
- A rubber spatula
Beat egg whites slowly until they begin to foam, then beat in the salt. Increase speed gradually to fast until soft peaks are formed. Sprinkle on the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks are formed. Stir one fourth of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it; scoop the rest of the egg whites on top and delicately fold them in.
Chilling and Serving
Immediately turn the mousse into a lightly oiled 6-cup metal mold, a serving bowl, or individual cups. Cover and chill for several hours or overnight.
If you are unmolding the mousse, dip mold for several seconds into hot water, run a knife rapidly between edge of mousse and mold, and turn a chilled serving dish upside down over mold; reverse the two, giving a sharp downward jerk, and the mousse should drop into place in a few seconds.
You may wish to pass with the mousse a bowl of lightly whipped cream flavored powdered sugar and liqueur. If you are serving a ring-molded mousse, you could put the cream in the center and sprinkle with grated chocolate. Here is a recipe for French whipped cream.
Crème Chantilly (Lightly Whipped Cream)
For about 2 cups:
- ½ pint (1 cup) chilled heavy or whipping cream
- A chilled 3-quart bowl
- A large wire whip, chilled
- 2 tablespoons sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons liqueur or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 thicknesses of damp, washed cheesecloth set in a sieve over a bowl
Pour the cream into the chilled bowl and beat slowly with the whip until the cream begins to foam. Gradually increase beating speed to moderate, and continue until beater leaves light traces on surface of cream and a bit lifted and dropped will softly retain its shape. (In hot water, it is best to beat over cracked ice.) Gently fold in the sifted sugar and the flavorings. If you are doing the cream in advance, turn it into cheese-cloth-lined sieve and refrigerate; the cream will stay beaten, and the delicious liquid that has seeped into bottom of bowl may be used for something else.
Makes about 5 cups serving 6 to 8 people
In 1961, as a recent graduate of the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, Julia Child co-authored the book Mastering the Art of French Cooking and launched her career of educating Americans in delicious ways with food. In 1963 she began her own cooking show The French Chef, produced at WGBH. This recipe was published in The French Chef Cookbook*.
*THE FRENCH CHEF COOKBOOK by Julia Child, copyright © 1968 by Julia Child. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. For online information about other Random House, Inc. books and authors, see the Internet Web Site at randomhouse.com.