Dark Chocolate Mousse (landscape)

You really can’t go wrong with this rich dark chocolate mousse! It’s the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert for two. The bittersweet chocolate will really wake up your tastebuds and win you endless compliments. If you or your date have a bit of a sweet tooth, pair this with a few Vanilla Meringue Cookies to bring out the sweeter notes. If you prefer semisweet or milk chocolate, you can simply use those instead of the bittersweet chocolate. I’ve tried this recipe with both bitter- and semisweet chocolates, and I loved it both ways.

Mousses can be a tad tricky to perfect, but they are so worth it! The temperature of the chocolate portion is what gives most people trouble. Too hot and the egg yolk may cook and become grainy, too cold and the chocolate solidifies and becomes grainy. Either way, perfect smoothness is the target. However, don’t let that deter you from trying this recipe. Even if it doesn’t come out perfectly smooth for you the first time, the flavor is still exquisite! If it helps your timing, you can whip the cream and egg whites first and store them in the fridge until you’re ready to fold them in. That way, you can put all your attention on the chocolate so you don’t miss the ideal temperature window.

This recipe contains raw eggs, so if you’re concerned about safety, use pasteurized egg whites from the carton. I tried this recipe with both regular and carton egg whites, and although the texture of the fresh mousse was a bit looser with the carton eggs, after a brief refrigeration, the eating experience between the two was virtually indistinguishable. Although the yolk gets warmed up once combined with the warm chocolate, I wouldn’t assume they’re reaching temperatures high enough to destroy potentially harmful bacteria. I’ve never seen pasteurized egg yolks alone, so the alternatives I see would be to leave the yolk out completely or to substitute whole pasteurized egg from the carton. The egg yolk in serves as an emulsifier and adds richness to this mousse. However, it will still be decadent and chocolaty without the yolk! Of course, if you have access to in-the-shell pasteurized eggs (which I have heard of but never seen myself) you can simply separate them and use the yolk and white as needed without fear! Please do opt for the pasteurized eggs if anyone young, old, pregnant, or immuno-compromised will be consuming this dish. They are more suseptable to food-borne illness than the average healthy adult.

2oz bittersweet chocolate
1-1/2 Tbsp butter
1 large egg, separated
1 Tbsp Frangelico liqueur (optional)
1/4 cup very cold heavy cream
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

1. Melt the chocolate and butter in either a double boiler or in short 15-second intervals in the microwave. (If you’re using a double boiler, keep the heat on the lowest setting and don’t allow the water to get any hotter than the very mildest simmer.) Do not scorch!

Chocolate, melting over double boiler

2. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolk in a small bowl until slightly thickened, 1-3 minutes. Now it’s time to add the yolk to the chocolate. If your chocolate mixture is still quite hot, add a spoon at a time to the egg yolk while whisking to it up to temperature slowly. Otherwise, the yolk may scramble. If your chocolate mixture is not hot enough to cook an egg, then simply whisk the egg yolk into the chocolate. Add the Frangelico or other flavoring, if desired, and stir. Allow the mixture to cool until it is just above body temperature (feels warm when you dab a bit on your lip).

Mousse, egg yolk whip & temper

3. Beat the cold heavy cream in a medium bowl until it holds soft peaks. The peaks should be visible, but flop over. Since cold fat whips better than warm fat, you can even chill your bowl and beaters in the freezer for a few minutes to help ensure your cream stays as cold as possible. This is not important; just for fun.

Mousse, whipped cream, soft peaks

4. Beat the egg white and cream of tartar in another bowl (use clean, dry beaters!!) until it holds soft peaks. Look for chubby, soft looking peaks that are able to stand up fairly well.

Mousse, egg foam, soft peaks

5. Fold together whipped cream, egg whites, and chocolate mixture gently but thoroughly. Some streaks are okay.

Mousse, folding together

Transfer the mousse into individual serving glasses and serve immediately or refrigerate for up to two days. If you’re planning to store it for more than an hour, place a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper on the surface of the mousse to prevent it from drying out. Allow to warm to room temperature for 20-30 minutes before serving for optimal flavor. Pair with a Vanilla Meringue Cookie as a sweet counterpoint to the bitterness of the chocolate. Garnish with a strawberry. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Mousse (portrait) 2

♥ That’s it! Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

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