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Chocolate Mousse

Julia Child first touted the Chocolate Mousse in "Mastering" as "one of the best, we think; it uses egg yolks, sugar and butter, and instead of cream, beaten egg whites." Later, in her 1970 book, "From Julia Child's Kitchen," she expounded on why: "It is clever to use butter rather than whipped cream, because the butter along with the chocolate firms up when chilled, giving the mousse enough body to be unmolded if you so wish. Yet the beaten egg whites keep it light in texture."

Julia, ever the teacher, also said her mousse was one of the best teaching tools for new cooks, since it calls for melting chocolate, boiling up a sugar syrup, warming and thickening egg yolks, and beating and folding egg whites. "Mastery of this operation opens up endless vistas of souffles, cakes, mousselines, roulades and even Buches de Noel. What better way is there to learn five fundamentals of la cuisine universelle and to eat them, too?"

No argument there.

-- Mackenzie Carpenter

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Jamaican rum, orange liqueur, cognac, frozen orange juice or strong coffee
  • 6 ounces semisweet baking chocolate
  • 4 tablespoons strong coffee
  • 6 ounces or 1 1/2 sticks of softened unsalted butter
  • 4 egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

To proceed, you will need: a pan of not-quite simmering water; a basin of cold water, a small saucepan, a 3-quart porcelain or stainless steel mixing bowl and a wire whip or electric beater.

Beat egg yolks and sugar together until mixture is thick and pale yellow and falls back upon itself forming a slowly dissolving ribbon. Beat in the liqueur. Then set the mixing bowl over the not-quite-simmering water and continue beating for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is foamy and too hot for your finger. Then beat over cold water for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is cool and again forms the ribbon. It will have the consistency of mayonnaise.

Melt chocolate with coffee over hot water. Remove from heat, and beat in the butter a bit at a time, to make a smooth cream. Beat the chocolate into the egg yolks and sugar.

Beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar, and beat until stiff shining peaks are formed. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the rest.

Turn into serving dish or individual dessert cups. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours for individual servings, or 4 hours for a large bowl, or overnight.

Can be served with whipped cream. Will keep refrigerated for 3 to 4 days.

Makes about 5 cups serving 6 to 8 people.

Adapted from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," Volume I

Sunday, July 28, 2002

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