There is a very specific sound that occurs when you drag a spoon through good chocolate mousse. It’s quiet and sort of…bubbly? I don’t know – that’s clearly an inadequate word to use, but what I mean is that the air within the mousse just kind of gives it this pillowy softness that you can actually hear rippling through. Then there’s the sensation that occurs when you actually taste good mousse. You should have a distinct urge, about 1-2 seconds into the bite, to tip your head back softly out of sheer comfort and indulgence. It. Is. Perfect.
Although the margin for error in this mousse is substantially higher than that of many other recipes (that’s a good thing – it means there’s less chance of screwing up), I still want you to approach this dish with an air of respect and ambition. There’s nothing I’m asking you to do that requires any particularly high level of finesse or skill, but when something is so simple, its individual components must be spot on. Also, it doesn’t take that long to make mousse (as far as desserts go) and you can prep pretty much everything well ahead, which means leaving yourself lots of time and effort to execute each step precisely. You might feel like serving chocolate mousse is a less-than-original choice, but a) it’s NOT and b) even if it is (which it’s NOT), people always love it. They think it’s goddamn delicious, because they’re right. It’s the most delicious.
BA’s Best: Dark Chocolate Mousse
Taken from BA’s Best arsenal, with some minor tweaks here and there
8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, preferably ~ 70% cocoa, divided
6 tbsp unsalted butter
6 large eggs, separated in to whites and yolks
¼ cup + 3 tbsp white sugar
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
Roughly chop and heat 7 oz chocolate and the butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Ensure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir the chocolate and butter occasionally, until both are melted and well blended. Set the chocolate mixture aside. Don’t ever put a lid on melted chocolate as it will condensate and possibly cause the chocolate to seize up.
Using a stand mixer or beaters, beat the egg yolks with ¼ cup white sugar in a medium bowl until noticeably pale and fluffy, about 5 full minutes. Using clean beaters and a clean bowl (I mean it – both have to be spotless for this next bit), beat the egg whites and remaining 3 tbsp sugar until medium-stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. This means that when you swipe your finger upwards through the whites they should almost stay stiff, but just fold over at the peak.
Use a large rubber spatula to gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the chocolate until no streaks remain. Starting at the centre and working your way towards the edges of the bowl, gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, scraping up from the bottom as you go and periodically rotating the bowl the whole while. You are basically trying to incorporate the egg whites without deflating them, so be very light-handed. Stop folding as soon as no white streaks remain. Divide the mousse among 8 small ramekins, bowls, or decorative glasses. Smooth the tops and chill for 4 hours.
When the mousse is nearly done chilling, beat the heavy cream until thick and fluffy. You can add a spoonful or two of white sugar during beating if you like your whipped cream sweetened, but personally I do not and I leave mine plain as I find the mousse to be sweet enough. Spoon mounds of whipped cream onto the chilled mousse, or do as I did and fill a piping bag with cream to then pipe dainty rosettes on top. Take the remaining 1 oz of chocolate and, using a vegetable peeler, knife, or microplane, finely shave the chocolate into small gratings over top of the mousse. Refrigerate until ready to serve (or up to 4 days). Keep playing that game of chicken with yourself where you help yourself to another ramekin and swear it’s just going to be one single solitary bite this time.