Classic French: January’s Dark Chocolate Mousse

It’s time to try my very first dark chocolate mousse recipe ever!

I gave a lot of thought to how I would start my monthly mousse adventure in which I will try a different dark chocolate mousse recipe each month during 2013.  Do I want to start off with a vegan recipe or some kind of alternative ingredients?  Start with whatever looks the simplest and later get into something more complex?  Try to invent the recipe right off the bat? If not, then whose recipe do I use?

I started my search and found a handful of “to die for” dark chocolate mousse recipes and chose to begin with a classic recipe as rendered by one of the most famous french cooking teachers of all time–Julia Child!

No one would be better to learn from–she a Paris-trained chef who wanted to help American women learn the art of french cooking–teaching me, a neophyte mousse maker venturing into the deep end of desserts.  I got the idea while doing a Google search for recipes and came across a David Lebovitz adaptation from Julia’s famous book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I was all set to use this adaptation but decided to get the recipe from the source herself.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

“Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck

After looking at several likely cookbook teachers (Betty Kettlebottom Crocker, Mark Bittman, the editor of Cook’s Illustrated, Rachael Ray and others) I decided that Julia’s Chocolate Mousse recipe will set an excellent standard for comparison with others I will make for the rest of the series. In fact, I was so impressed with this book and the way it instructs, I bought it.

She states:

Among all the recipes for chocolate mousse this is one of the best, we think;

I shopped for all my ingredients and I embarked upon my first ever Dark Chocolate Mousse!

This mousse consists of semi-sweet dark chocolate, sugar, egg yolks, unsalted butter, a couple spoonfuls of strong coffee and orange liqueur. That’s it! I did alter the recipe a bit by substituting organic, unrefined cane sugar in place of the extra fine white sugar called for. This is still sugar–there’s no way to deny that–but at least it is less refined and retains some of its minerals. (I will definitely get into sugar-free versions later in the series.)

The instructions in this book were so easy to follow! Once I had all the ingredients ready, such as the butter softened and the chocolate weighed out, it only took my husband and me about 20 minutes to make this mousse.

The first step says:

Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until mixture is thick, pale yellow, and falls back upon itself forming a slowly dissolving ribbon.

That turned out to be a perfect description of how this first mixture would look. We used a handheld electric mixer but you can also use a wire whisk. We continued beating this yolk mixture after moving it to the stove and putting the bowl over a pot of not-quite-simmering water. Then it was off the stove and putting the yellow mixture over a bowl of ice water until the mixture cooled again and we achieved the desired “ribbons.”

“How did they figure out all these steps?” my husband asked.

“Just three women playing around with eggs and things,” I said.

Next we melted the chocolate and beat the butter into it. This is when I really understood that this dessert should be served in pettite portions.  Thank goodness we already cut the recipe in half! No use tempting ourselves with five cups of butter, sugar and chocolate at one time!

Freshly made, this dessert was very smooth and mousse-like. Excellent for a first attempt! We did our little photo shoot before putting the rest of the mousse in the refrigerator. Here is Miss January!

We used a color wheel to determine that Miss January would look smashing dressed in purple silk with a touch of mint green bling.

We used a color wheel to determine that Miss January would look smashing dressed in purple silk with a touch of mint green bling.

The rest went into the refrigerator and I took a little taste the next day. It was firmer than I expected. My solution was to bring it out of the refrigerator a short while before serving it and the mousse quickly became creamy again.

I note here that David L’s adaptation includes folding in beaten egg whites. This would definitely affect the density and is one of the options given in MTAOFC. I am considering making the original Juila Child recipe again using her egg white option and if I do, I will let you know how that turns out.

And what did our Dark Chocolate Mousse Aficionado think of this month’s classic french dessert? He liked it better after it had been chilled:

Great texture–really creamy even right out of the refrigerator. Thick, but not sticky. If I chew it, I detect a slight graininess from the type of sugar we used, but overall it is very creamy. The orange flavor is more developed and the color is darker now, like you would expect.  I’m tasting layers of flavors–creamy chocolatiness followed by the orange. A little cognac poured over this would be good!

~~~

The idea here was to duplicate this recipe and I did that except for the type of sugar. For this reason, I cannot include the entire recipe here because it isn’t mine. I didn’t “adapt” it, I followed it almost exactly.  This is a point of personal integrity as well as legal copyright and I’m sure you understand.

If you don’t want to purchase the entire cookbook, check with your local library to see if they have copies, browse the local bookstore to find the exact recipe or try the David Lebovitz adaptation.

I have never made this dessert before and usually don’t work with sugar, egg yolks and this much butter. This is foreign territory for me which is what makes it fun, even if risky!  How much will the outcome of these 2013 mousse recipes be determined by the composition of the recipes themselves and how much by the fact that they are being prepared by me–a novice?

Now that I have my first dark chocolate mousse classic under my belt (Literally. No doubt this experiment will go straight to my waist and continue south), I will forge ahead on my Quest and perhaps I will create a fabulous dark chocolate mousse recipe of my own or come up with the cleverest of adaptations to give you.

Do you have a favorite dark chocolate mousse recipe to recommend or have you got one of your own? Let us know and send us your link!

Dark Chocolate Snowball

My resolution to discover and learn to make the best dark chocolate mousse on the planet is taking on a life of its own.

No offense  to Ben & Jerry's, but it is time for a chocolate upgrade at mycookinglife for 2013!

No offense to Ben & Jerry’s, but it is time for a chocolate upgrade at mycookinglife for 2013!

First of all, there’s the pressure.  I said I’d make one dark chocolate mousse a month and the first week of January is already slipping by.

“So,” I thought, “Now I have to decide when this monthly merry mousse-making is going to appear.”

Before I could reach a decision my thoughts jumped ahead to some other issues–some of which were instigated by reading other blogs.

I follow “Foodimentary” and learned today is National Chocolate-Covered Cherry Day. This used to be my all-time favorite candy but I don’t eat it much any more because the chocolate is usually so cheap and not worth it. (There’s a subject for a post!)

That got me thinking about chocolate quality in general and what do I really know about chocolate?  No doubt there are chocolate connoisseurs in the world. In fact, there are some here in New Mexico and maybe I can consult with them or interview them for my blog.  (There’s a subject for a post!)

Then I read this great post about making a New Year’s resolution to kiss more people more often.  (It was really good, you should read it.)  That got me thinking about my husband and what a great kisser he is and somehow that led to the idea of the famous Chocolate Kisses and the fact that Valentine’s Day is coming up in February and that I’d like to make a really special dark chocolate mousse for that month.  (There’s a subject for a great post!)

I also read one of my favorite blogger’s excellent advice on the whole new-year-new-diet scene and how to effectively improve your health and lifestyle by making aware decisions about what you eat.  (Yes, I recommend this post to you.)  I had been thinking about the fact that in order to try a different dark chocolate mousse every month, I will inevitably use some recipes that call for a little sugar and some cream–both of which I usually don’t eat–and how do I justify that?

Well, I am no saint and I do sometimes eat those things and this blogger helped me realize that with the right attitude (No, I don’t mean justification, I mean attitude), I can make eating dark chocolate mousse work very well for me.  (There’s a subject for a great post!)

And then there’s presentation.  My second New Year’s Resolution is to learn how to do food photography better.  Which leads to props.  Which leads to shopping. (Love shopping). Which leads to finding creative ways to feature my future dark chocolate meeces (Huh?) in beautiful and enticing photographs.  Imagine the dessert bowls and ramekins! The garnishes! Slenderize Your Dark Chocolate Mousse With Vertical White Chocolate Stripes. Dark Chocolate Mousse Fashion Design. (There’s a subject for a great post!)

Many of my blogging friends are doing interactive things with their blogs like the Virtual Vegan Potluck (invite meeee! I’ll bring a Vegan Dark Chocolate Mousse that I want to make.) and Giveaways.  My third New Year’s resolution is to have guest bloggers and that fits right in with being interactive and they may decide to make dark chocolate mousse with photographs supplied.  I thought of quite a few people I could ask to be guests and then I thought of some people I could actually visit and we can make dark chocolate mousse together with photos etc. (There’s a subject for a great post!)

My husband-the-great-kisser, by the way, is more than happy to be the taste tester for my experimental mousse-making.  We will make beautiful moussic together.  (Couldn’t resist saying that!)  In the spirit of being more interactive, I’d like to invite other taste-testers too and have them render their opinions. Of dark chocolate mousse, not of my husband’s kissing thank you very much. (There’s a subject for another great post!)

In fact, why don’t I work out some kind of dark chocolate mousse-making contest and solicit original recipes that I can make during the year as part of my Dark Chocolate Mousse Star Search!? (There’s a subject for another great post, for sure!)

Or the updated versions:  So You Think You Can Mousse.  Moussing With the Stars (Gosh! Do you think I could even pull in a celebrity dark chocolate mousse recipe?)

Moussing with Bullwinkle.

Johnny Depp!  How About You? You were in that Chocolate Factory movie, right? In fact, you were in Chocolat too. Sure, just come on over and we’ll mousse up a Dark Chocolate Storm! I need an expert like you, Johnny.

Chinese New Year:  Year of the Dark Chocolate Moussssse (It’s the year of the snake, and snakes, hiss, and . . . maybe they all can’t be winners).

A Dark Chocolate Day.  Don’t be Afraid of the Dark. Dark Chocolate–Aphrodisiac or Bitter End? Famous Chocolate Marriages – Meet the Reese’s. South of the Border with Mexican Chocolate. How to Remove Chocolate Stains. They Called Me a “Dip.” Lose Ten Pounds on the Dark Chocolate Mousse Diet! Lifestyles of the Dark, Rich and Famous (Chocolate, That Is). Death By Chocolate–Thirty Ways To Do It. Deep Dark Beauty Secrets or How to Have Flawless Chocolate Coating.

Mousse is Not a Hair Product.

I LIke Vanilla: Confessions of a Chocolate Maven.

Where’s my writer’s notepad and pen? I’m drowning ecstatically in my own Dark Chocolate Dreams!  (Yes, another subject for a great post!)

Like I said, there’s the pressure.  And if there wasn’t enough of it before, I’ve certainly magnified it a thousand-fold with these entertainingly bloggy chocolate thoughts, haven’t I?  See what happens when you make what at first seems like a simple resolution?

It is now a Quest.

Surely I’ll be looking for a little help from my blogging friends and we’ll come out okay and probably coated in Delicious Dark Chocolate.  I can just see the words “Chocolate” and “Mousse” looming larger and larger in my tag cloud!

In the meantime I’ve got to choose a dark chocolate mousse recipe to try out and feature for January.  And I think I know just the lady to go to for that.  (Not telling because that will be the subject–you guessed it–for another great post!)

2013 is looking very Dark Chocolate Moussey, I must say!

Doompocalyptic-Resolution in the Kitchen

First of all,  I never paid a lick of attention to the Mayan Calendar, I don’t agree I am headed for a tumble over the “Fiscal Cliff,” and I have a very definite opinion about why people cling to any type of “doomsday” prediction.

We people just love, LOVE, L O V E drama. And getting all excited and worried about doomsday or cliffs or devastation by meteorite seems a lot more exciting sometimes than the challenge of facing our lives and making the moment by moment decisions in which we are actually creating our own futures and navigating through our own personal doomsday.

But in the spirit of the New Year and the tradition of making resolutions, I’m joining in on WordPress’ DPChallenge and I’m going to tell you about three things I’d like to change in my life.

My cooking life, that is!

The secret to a good resolution is to have a definite plan on how you are going to accomplish it and then lay out your targets which will lead to your goal. Don’t defeat your own goal before you’re hardly started by deciding it is not big enough, important enough, worthwhile enough, etc., or adopt the consideration that you’ll probably fail to reach your goal.

Cake made of chocolate mousse.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1.  I’m going to learn how to make the best, most excellent dark chocolate mousse.  I resolve to make a different dark chocolate mousse recipe every month this year and find out which one is the best.  I’m pretty sure my husband will agree to be my guinea pig taste tester and I’ll post my research findings for you to see.  Stay tuned for the first “Dark Chocolate Mousse of the Month.”

2.  I’m going to learn how to take great pictures of food (for your viewing pleasure when you read my blog).  For this I have purchased Food Photography for Dummies even though I absolutely dislike being referred to as a
“Dummy” and have avoided purchasing any book with this theme in the title until now.

3. I’m going to find and feature six guest authors to contribute to mycookinglife.com  I’ve invited two and have more in mind!

Nope.  Not much doom and gloom here in my kitchen!  What do you resolve to do this year in YOUR cooking life?