From time to time I’ve mentioned the oft-asked questions I get from people interested in what I do. Almost always is the “what is your favorite thing to make” query. Usually I say “croissants” because it’s true, I love making them. However, there’s another love of mine that I want to share with you today. Don’t tell croissants.
Mousse is a quintessential pastry product, and something I treat like an art form. It’s just as good on its own as it is as a component of a plated dessert, or entremet, or petit gateau, or whatevs. I love making mousse because it’s a delicate process, and because the difference between a good mousse and a great one is so minute. I love details. Today I will show you (hopefully) how to make a great mousse, and of all the mousse possibilities, chocolate seems to be the crowd pleaser. It also happens to be the trickiest to tackle, so mastering chocolate mousse sets you up for future success.
Mousse falls under two main categories in my world: fruit based mousse and everything else (another way to put it would be water-based vs. fat-based mousse). Fruit mousse is its own unique little animal, so we’ll talk about that another time.
Among fat based mousse the method is pretty standard. Mousse base + flavoring element + whipped cream = mousse.
The mousse base is going to be one of two things: a custard (like crème anglaise) or a pate a bombe, which is egg yolks and/or whole eggs whipped with hot sugar syrup. I prefer a pate a bombe because it creates a richer, creamier mousse. The downside is the shelf life is shorter compared to a crème anglaise base, but I’ve never had mousse around long enough for that to be a problem.
The flavoring element is really the centerpiece of the mousse. Among fat-based mousse this could be peanut butter, or cream cheese, or in our case chocolate. What makes chocolate difficult to use is its tendency to seize once added to the mousse base. The trick to avoiding this is making sure your chocolate is very hot before adding it to the base, adding the base in appropriate quantities, and most importantly to whisk without stopping until you’ve passed the seizing phase of the chocolate.
375g heavy cream
4g gelatin 160 bloom
100g egg yolks about 5 eggs
225g chocolate, 64% Guittard L’Harmonie
36g cocoa paste unsweetened chocolate
Hydrate the gelatin in cold water and reserve to use later.
Whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. The cream should start to hold its shape but still be loose around the edges of the bowl. Reserve the whipped cream in the cooler to use later.
Melt the chocolate and unsweetened chocolate (cocoa paste) and reserve over a double boiler on low heat to keep it warm.
Combine the sugar and water in a sauce pot and heat over high heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar.
While the syrup heats up, combine the egg yolks in a stand mixer with a whip attachment and whisk on medium speed.
As the syrup comes to a boil, stop whisking to avoid crystallizing the syrup. Cook to 250F/121C.
Increase the speed of the mixer to high and carefully pour a steady stream of the hot sugar syrup down the side of the inside of the mixing bowl.
Once all of the syrup is added, continue to whip on high for 30 seconds then reduce the whisking speed to medium.
Squeeze any excess water from the hydrated gelatin. Melt the gelatin in the microwave and add to the whisking egg mixture.
Continue to whip the eggs until they have cooled, and become light and thickened.
Add the pate a bombe to the hot melted chocolate in two additions, adding 75% of the base in the first addition and the final 25% of the base in the second addition. The chocolate will appear to seize up, but do not stop whisking!
Whisk the heavy cream by hand just to thicken slightly and add it to the chocolate mousse base in two additions. After the second addition, scrape the mousse from the mixing bowl back into the stand mixer mixing bowl to ensure thorough homogenization.
If casting the mousse into another vessel, do so as soon as the mousse is thoroughly mixed.
A successful mousse is a staple of a happy cook. If you follow the recipe step by step, I’m confident this mousse will be the silkiest, richest chocolate mousse you’ve ever had. Now enjoy the fruits of your labors!