Chocolate Mousse

A few basic techniques are all you need to make this sublimely decadent classic.
TIME 30 minutes, plus time to chill
MAKES 6 servings
2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces chocolate, chopped
3 eggs, separated
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup sugar
½ cup cream

1 Fill a small or medium saucepan about halfway with water and put over high heat. Find a bowl that sits comfortably in the pot so the bottom just touches the water (or is close). When the water comes to a boil, lower the heat so it bubbles gently. Put the butter and chocolate in the bowl and set it in the saucepan to rig a double boiler.

2 Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is almost completely melted. Remove it from the heat and stir the mixture until it’s completely smooth. Let it cool until you can hold the bowl, then whisk in the egg yolks and the vanilla.

3 Put the egg whites and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a medium mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture holds stiff peaks, 30 to 45 seconds. Wash the beaters; put the cream and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a separate, smaller mixing bowl and beat with the electric mixer until the cream holds soft peaks, 20 to 30 seconds.

4 Stir a couple of spoonfuls of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining whites thoroughly but gently with a rubber spatula. Fold in the cream just enough so that there are no streaks of white, then refrigerate until chilled. Eat within a day; to serve, transfer the mousse to a serving bowl or individual cups.

  • Mocha Mousse: Add 2 tablespoons very strong brewed coffee (espresso is best) to the chocolate mixture in Step 1 and reduce the cream in Step 3 to 6 tablespoons. Or add 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder to the chocolate mixture in Step 1 and use the same amount of cream.
  • White Chocolate Mousse: Use white chocolate.

  • Melting chocolate is easy, but keep an eye on it. (Chocolate burns easily, especially when you’re melting it alone.) So watch the heat, be patient, and stir frequently.
  • Folding ingredients together always works best when they’re a similar density. Adding some of the whites to the chocolate helps lighten it for easier incorporation, but you’ll still need to be patient when folding. Work from the bottom of the bowl with the spatula, lifting and folding like turning the pages of a book. Try to avoid using cutting or stirring motions as shortcuts and you’ll be rewarded with a super fluffy mousse.

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