Simply Elegant

Why save chocolate mousse for special occasions when it’s so easy to prepare?

Simply Elegant
By Annemarie Ahearn

Until recently, I wasn’t in the habit of making mousse. I thought it was a decadent dish, to be reserved for elegant affairs and fancy restaurants. But then I wrote a recipe for chocolate mousse to finish a Parisian menu for a course in French regional cuisine. We doubled the recipe (just in case), and the following day, I presented the unintended leftovers at an impromptu dinner party. Silence took hold as my normally verbose guests savored each spoonful of cool, chocolate velvet. The mousse was divine — even better than the day before. Now, I make chocolate mousse as often as I make oatmeal. As it turns out, you don’t need a special occasion for this simple dessert: it’s an unfussy pudding that simply rests in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it. Then, it challenges you to deny its charm.

Chocolate Mousse

Serves 8

2½ cups chilled heavy cream

3 tablespoons sugar

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

4 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 ounces fine quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup cream until just barely simmering. In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, kosher salt, and egg yolks until fully incorporated and yolks begin to lighten in color. Pour cream into the egg yolk and sugar mixture in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly until fully combined. Pour mixture into a heavy-bottom, medium-size saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Stir constantly for 5–6 minutes or until custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl and then stir in the vanilla. Let cool.

Place the chocolate in a double boiler and melt, stirring occasionally. Once fully melted, whisk into custard and stir to cool, about 3 minutes. Then cover and place in the refrigerator until chilled, about 30 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the remaining 1½ cups cream until you have formed stiff peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate custard mixture in thirds, being careful not to deflate the mousse. Spoon the custard into dessert cups, glasses, or whatever small vessels you have around. You can serve immediately or let the mousse set up in the fridge for up to 24 hours. It just gets better and better.

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