Considering it’s such a well-known dessert, not only in France but all over the world, Mousse au Chocolat doesn’t really require much explanation! Chocolate, then known as xocolatl, passed into Spain through the Tenochtitlan in the 16th century, then into France the following century, but it was mostly used in hot beverages for a long time. Though it was only in the late 1800s that fruit mousses started to appear, Menon lists a recipe in his book Les Soupers de La Cour (1755). This classic recipe is as tasty as it is quick so try it out!
– 100ml crème fraiche
– 250g of dark chocolate (I’d go for at least 70% cocoa)
– 4 large eggs (add another if you prefer it creamier)
– A whisk (preferably a metal balloon whisk)
– Pots, shallow cups or a deep and not-too-narrow dish (I prefer glass)
– Small amount of vinegar or lemon juice
1. Set up a bain-marie: Simmer water in a saucepan and place a bowl over the top, preferably glass. It should be large enough to cover the pan’s rim and shouldn’t touch the water’s surface.
2. Break up the chocolate into small pieces (to allow it to melt more quickly) placing it in the bowl.
3. Add the crème fraiche to the chocolate once it is melted, but keep the chocolate over the bain-marie (you can also add any additional flavourings at this stage – cinnamon or vanilla would both go nicely)
4. Separate the egg yolks from the whites, taking care not to get any of the yolk in the white. Place the whites in a bowl that has been rinsed in cold water, thoroughly dried, and then wiped down with either lemon juice or vinegar. Beat the whites with a whisk that has been treated similarly.
5. Continue to beat the whites until they form a firm foam (the whisk should form a clear impression in the egg white and you should be able to tip the bowl without it falling out).
6. Take the chocolate/crème fraiche mixture off the bain-marie, allow the chocolate to cool a little and mix the egg yolks with the mixture – take care to ensure there are no lumps, that your mixture is smooth and isn’t too hot.
7. This is the only tricky part! Fold about a third of the egg white mixture into the the chocolate mixture in a separate bowl, preferably with a knife or large spoon – you want to make sure you don’t mix it together or (as is very tempting) to tap whatever utensil you’re using on the bowl. You’re trying to avoid knocking air out of the mixture.
8. You can continue to fold in the egg whites. Make sure all the chocolate mix is distributed evenly.
9. Place the mixture into the dish(es) and leave in the fridge for at least a few hours, or about twenty minutes in the freezer if you’re pressed for time.
10. Decorate the top with more cream, cocoa powder, mint leaves, chocolate curls or flakes. I like adding raspberries to take the edge off the sweetness of the mousse and the bitterness of the chocolate – all you do then is serve!