Creamy Chocolate Mousse

I know that my last post claimed that this, the following post, would be about the wonderful, magical, healing tonic called Medicine Broth. As you can see, I got a little distracted and now present something that is only medicine-like if you're depressed or experiencing a breakup. But let's back up here, in all fairness to me, I've been hanging on to this magazine clipping with an eccentric kind of mousse recipe from April 2015 for ONE YEAR. The time had finally come, I decided. 

The reason I've been hanging on to this particular magazine clipping (of the million that I tear out, hang onto, and then throw away after about six months) is that it's such an interesting way of making mousse- no yolks, no butter, only six ingredients. Well, seven actually, if you count time. The recipe's creator, Dominique Ansel, does indeed count time, and that's another thing that makes this mousse interesting: it's meant to be assembled immediately before serving so that the texture remains as light as possible. A creamy, frothy, light as air, intensely chocolatey mess of a mousse, as I discovered when I finally made it today. 

If you don't know who Dominique Ansel is, I think one word will provide the explanation you need: CRONUT. That's right, this classically trained French pastry chef invented that beloved cross between croissant and donut, and his bakery in New York has a winding line around the block every day. He thinks outside the box, and that's what makes his version of mousse so cool. It's a kind of a-la-minute presentation that has major wow factor but can also (just so you know) be held in the fridge to serve the next day. 

The only tricky part about making this mousse is the cooked sugar meringue, because you need to cook the sugar and water syrup to the exact correct stage. If you have a candy thermometer, then this step is not stressful at all. So...maybe don't make it until you go out and purchase one of those. Be sure to get the kind that clips onto the side of your pan, okay?

The rest of the meringue comes together quickly and I think- start to finish- it only took me about half an hour to make. In the recipe, you'll notice that the amount of meringue made exceeds that which you need for the mousse. The recipe says, "reserve the rest for another use." That made me laugh because most American households don't have much use for extra meringue. But, don't be tempted to halve the ingredients that make up the meringue. Ansel is as precise as can be, and we can trust that there's a reason he calls for that amount of egg whites. I have a feeling that a smaller amount wouldn't whip correctly in your stand mixer. To deal with the extra meringue, If you're feeling up to it, you can chop some nuts and toss them in the leftover meringue. Scoop spoonfuls onto a sheet tray lined with parchment and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned on the outside. Then turn the oven off and let them hang out in there until it's cool. You'll have some crunchy, chewy, low-fat, nutty little cookies. Another thing that you could do is throw the extra meringue into the mousse; it's quite chocolately so, if you like a lighter flavor, you can definitely go that route. 

The recipe notes that: The meringue can be refrigerated overnight. The chocolate can stand at room temperature overnight, covered with plastic wrap. FYI, if you're taking this to someone's house or to a picnic (as I am), you can indeed make it ahead of time and refrigerate. It's not the same effect, but it's still an delightful and impressive treat. I also have a feeling that you could freeze the extra for a semifreddo like effect. If anyone tries that, let me know!

Extra Creamy Chocolate Mousse

 From Dominique Ansel in Food & Wine Magazine, April 2015.

Serves 10-12. That's a lot of mousse! See above for suggestions.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 14 oz. bittersweet chocolate, preferably 70 percent, finely chopped
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups cold heavy cream

Instructions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer, 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, gradually pour in the hot syrup in a steady stream and beat at high speed until the whites are stiff, 2 to 3 minutes. Cover the meringue with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature. 
  3. Put the chocolate in a heat proof bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the milk just to a simmer. Pour the hot milk over the chocolate and let stand for about a minute, then stir until smooth, and allow to cool slightly. 
  4. In a bowl, beat the cream to soft peaks. Reserve 1/2 cup of the whipped cream for serving. 
  5. Scoop half the meringue into a bowl (reserve the rest for another use). Whisk in the whipped cream, gently.
  6. If it's cooled completely, warm the chocolate mixture in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring, until just melted. I didn't need to do this because my chocolate was still plenty warm when I got to this step. Pour the chocolate over the meringue and cream and quickly fold it in. Spoon the mousse into serving glasses, swirl in the reserved whipped cream, and serve.