Food & Drink

The time has come to resurrect the chocolate mousse

Chocolate mousse swirled with whipped cream.
Chocolate mousse swirled with whipped cream. Tribune

The rage over 1950s and 1960s style is still going strong. Mid-century architecture, furniture and fashions are back. So why not some mid-century food?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you chocolate mousse.

Chocolate mousse has been gracing American tables at least since 1896. But it truly came to prominence around 1950, when a recipe for it – using canned chocolate syrup – appeared in the best-selling first edition of “Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book.”

For a couple of decades after that, fashionable dinner parties were more likely than not to end with a dish of chocolate mousse. It was part of the swinging ’60s and the stylish ’70s. And then, relatively quickly, chocolate mousse almost completely disappeared from American tables. Perhaps too many people made it with canned chocolate syrup.

The time has come to resurrect the popularity of this once beloved dessert. It’s light and decadent and melts seductively on your tongue. It’s not too sweet; it’s not too fancy.

In many respects, it is the perfect dessert.

The only question is how to serve it. I’m a big fan of using it in a tart, or you can also use it to fill those little chocolate cups. But the classic way may be the purest and the best: in a glass bowl, topped with whipped cream.

At this point, it needs to be said that mousses are made with raw eggs, and that the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that no one should eat raw eggs (unless the eggs have been pasteurized in the shell). Raw eggs should especially be avoided by infants, young children, older adults, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

RIDICULOUSLY FAST CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Yield: 3 servings (can easily be doubled, tripled or more)

6 ounces semisweet chocolate

2 tablespoons Kahlua

3 tablespoons orange juice

2 egg yolks

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup heavy cream

In a small pot on low heat, melt the chocolate in the Kahlua and orange juice, and set aside to cool.

Put the egg yolks, eggs, vanilla and sugar in a blender or food processor; blend for 2 minutes on medium high speed. Add the heavy cream and blend 30 more seconds. Add the melted chocolate mixture and blend until smooth.

Pour into a bowl or individual cups and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Per serving: 758 calories; 56 g fat; 33 g saturated fat; 357 mg cholesterol; 12 g protein; 58 g carbohydrate; 48 g sugar; 4 g fiber; 85 mg sodium; 87 mg calcium.

Recipe by Annemarie Huste, Annemarie’s Cookingschool

EXTRA-CREAMY CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

14 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably 70 percent cacao, finely chopped

1 cup whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 250 degrees on a candy thermometer, 4 to 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, gradually pour in the hot syrup in a steady stream and beat at high speed until the whites are stiff, 2 to 3 minutes. Cover this meringue with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature.

Put the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the milk just to a simmer. Pour the milk over the chocolate and let stand for 1 minute, then stir until smooth and let cool.

In a bowl, beat the cream to soft peaks. Reserve a generous 1/2 cup of the whipped cream for serving.

Scoop half of the meringue into a bowl (reserve the rest for another use). Whisk in the remaining whipped cream.

Warm the chocolate mixture in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring, until just melted. Pour the chocolate over the meringue and quickly fold it in. Spoon the mousse into glasses, swirl in the reserved whipped cream (about 1 tablespoon per serving) and serve.

Per serving (based on 12): 385 calories; 30 g fat; 18 g saturated fat; 57 mg cholesterol; 6 g protein; 34 g carbohydrate; 28 g sugar; 4 g fiber; 38 mg sodium; 50 mg calcium.

Recipe by Dominique Ansel in Food and Wine

JULIA CHILD'S CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Yield: 6 to 8 servings (about 5 cups)

4 eggs, separated

3/4 cup superfine sugar, see note

1/4 cup orange liqueur

6 ounces semisweet baking chocolate

4 tablespoons strong coffee

6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Note: Superfine sugar can be purchased at a store, or you can make it yourself by placing sugar in a blender and blending it on medium high for 10 to 15 seconds.

Heat a pot of water almost large enough to hold a mixing bowl until it is not quite simmering. Fill a basin or bowl with ice water. The bowl should be large enough to hold a mixing bowl.

Using a hand-held mixer, beat the egg yolks and superfine sugar together until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and falls back upon itself forming a slowly dissolving ribbon. Beat in the orange 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. Place the bowl in the ice water and beat 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is cool and again forms the ribbon. It will have the consistency of mayonnaise.

In another bowl, melt the chocolate with coffee over the pot of 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.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the granulated sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the rest. Turn into serving dish, dessert cups or ramekins. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Serve with whipped cream or creme anglaise.

Per serving (based on 8): 404 calories; 27 g fat; 16 g saturated fat; 139 mg cholesterol; 5 g protein; 35 g carbohydrate; 32 g sugar; 2 g fiber; 58 mg sodium; 20 mg calcium.

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

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