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Mousse au Chocolat

(recipe, Karen Le Billon)

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Mousse (whether lemon, chocolate, or any other kind) is amazingly quick to make. My French relatives need only about 5 minutes, but I've been generous with the time allowance here. The ratio of time spent to pleasure derived is probably the best of any dessert recipe I've encountered. There are as many recipes for mousse as there are members of the family. Use this recipe as your point of departure. There are lots of little innovations you can try: serve with a bit of whipped cream if you like, or adjust the amount of sugar to suit your taste. But I like the minimalist version served below: dark and delicious. The French are not, by the way, as fearful of raw eggs as are North Americans. I still can't shake that slight paranoia, so I make sure to buy my eggs from a reliable source to avoid any chance of salmonella poisoning.


    1. ½ lb. (8 ounces) semisweet Baker's chocolate
    2. 4 Tbsp. (½ stick) butter
    3. 6 eggs, whites and yolks separated
    4. Zest of half an orange
    5. Pinch of salt
    Garnishes (optional)
    1. Whipped cream, berries, and/or crisp cookies


    1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bain-marie (double boiler). (Quick alternative: In the microwave, melt the chocolate in a fairly large bowl; I put a tiny bit of milk in the bottom to keep the chocolate from sticking.) Allow the chocolate to cool! Otherwise, you risk cooking the eggs. When the chocolate is melted (but not too hot), add in the egg yolks and the orange zest, and stir well.
    2. In a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a whisk or mixer), beat the egg whites until they reach stiff peaks (adding a pinch of salt at the start will help them stiffen).
    3. Gently fold one-half of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Mix gently, then fold in the other half, mixing very gently. Spoon the mousse into little serving dishes and chill for two to three hours, or until firm.
    4. Serve with whipped cream, fresh berries, or crisp little cookies on the side.


    Served in a big bowl, this makes a big impression. But it will be tidier and more elegant (and the mousse will likely remain more firm) if prepared and served in little individual bowls (plus, no fighting about who got more!). Culinate editor's notes: Since this recipe depends on the chocolate you use, buy the best-quality semisweet chocolate you can find, such as Scharffen Berger. If you don't have an orange on hand, just skip the zest; the mousse will taste great without it.