Great Reasons to Make Chocolate Mousse:
- You're going to a potluck, and it seems schleppy to get something from the grocery store.
- You have slightly embarrassing memories of asking for samples of mousse at the deli counter as a child (that make you wonder where your mother was. Maybe pretending you weren't her child?).
- You were given a KitchenAid stand mixer for Christmas that you haven't used nearly enough yet.
- You've gotta break that New Year's resolution sometime. Why not now?
But let's be honest, who really needs a reason for chocolate mousse? The fantastic inspiration for this absolutely drool-worthy recipe comes from The Essential New York Times Cookbook, which (along with Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian) is my current obsession. A giant tome of over 1400 recipes, the collection was painstakingly tested and arranged by Amanda Hessler, who drew from 150 years of recipes published in, you guessed it, The New York Times. I feel like there's a big emphasis on what's new and inventive in the culinary world, and it's refreshing to see the recipes from the nineteenth century that my grandmother's mother may have read. There's not a picture to be found, but Hessler's notes about each recipe are lovely and helpful. Also helpful: the book is popular enough that your local library surely has a copy.
The chocolate mousse recipe is not so old, only from 1977, but it is hands-down the best I've had. Hessler warns that you'll likely "dirt[y] eighty-seven bowls in the process." I tend to clean up as I go (a habit my dad will happily explain comes from him, not Mom), so I didn't get a final count, but I didn't think it was so bad. And while there are several different steps involved, there's nothing really tricky about it. It took less than an hour altogether. Don't be scared away, it's definitely worth a little bit of work.
Not too sweet, it hits just the right note of decadently rich but airily light. This is a chocolate-lover's dessert, for sure. I swapped out the liquor in the original recipe for orange juice and zest and added orange zest to the whipped cream, as well, and it brought just a touch of brightness to the situation. On quick note: Very little liquid is added to the melted chocolate, so it will seize up a bit if you don't work quickly. Don't worry about that, I tweaked the recipe to make that happen on purpose. The slightly hardened chocolate can still be easily beaten into the whipped cream and egg whites, and you'll have delightfully teeny pieces of melt-in-your-mouth intense chocolate. The thought of those tiny chocolate bombs had me in the kitchen with a spoon an embarrassing number of times this weekend. If you don't want them, just add a couple tablespoons of water to the egg yolks. But also be aware that we cannot possibly be friends.