Hello Again, Chocolate Mousse

August 7th, 2009  |  72 Comments

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-final

One fine day in my not too distant past, I decided to spend my lunch hour milling around the Barnes and Noble. Just a regular day, it was, with the usual rows of books, and the usual cappuccino slinging. As I stood there, leafing through Poker for Dummies, my ears suddenly perked up. It was the store announcer crackling over the loud speaker. He was pleased to announce that in 15 minutes, Jacques Torres would be giving a demonstration and signing books in the main area. Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!

Needless to say, I did a little jig in the Crafts aisle before bee-lining to front and center. I would get to watch the great Jacques Torres in action and, if I didn’t faint by the end, I’d get to sample a dessert! I was beside myself. In those days, Jacques Torres was on PBS and I watched him fling profiteroles at the audience every Sunday. My cheeks hurt from over-smiling.

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-spoon

Too bad that smile faded not 30 seconds later when Jacques revealed that he’d be demonstrating chocolate mousse. Suddenly, an overwhelming drowsiness kicked in. Chocolate mousse was so booooooring. It was in every cookbook, on every menu. Everywhere, like pigeons. Anyone with a whisk and an apron could throw together chocolate mousse.

But I stayed in my seat, because when it’s Jacques Torres, you stay in your seat. He began talking and showing. His moves were very calculated, like he didn’t have a gesture to waste. He spoke of different types of sho-ko-laht, as he pronounced it, while he got his bowls in line. The way he spoke was both entertaining and educational. Those years on TV made him a good showman. My eyebrow arched and now I was in.

A few things really made an impression. One was that he favored Valrhona chocolate, but if stranded some place with extremely limited options, he would choose the everyday supermarket Dove brand. He deemed it to be an acceptable substitute in a pinch.

Another thing that struck me was that when he started folding his whipped cream into the chocolate, he spun his bowl really quickly, as though it was a pottery wheel, and dug his spatula in with fervor, a fast chopping motion. Someone from the audience pointed out that folding was supposed to be a delicate affair. Yes, he said. He was doing it “delicately” when compared with another kitchen technique: whipping. Using a whisk is much more violent than using a spatula to incorporate something, he explained. To this day, I fold like Jacques Torres.

In a few minutes, he ladled out the mousse and dropped a couple of raspberries over each sample. Even though they were served in paper cups with plastic spoons, as soon as I had my first bite, I was hypnotized. I closed my eyes and saw myself seated in his 4-star restaurant, Le Cirque. The silver spoon shone as I dipped it in the chocolatey cloud. The texture was dreamy–so ethereal, so sensual, so refined–and yet the flavor was full, cloaking me in it’s depth.

I never took chocolate mousse for granted again.

I’ve noticed over time that most chocolate mousse recipes are essentially the same: melt chocolate, fold in cream. That’s why it’s imperative that the chocolate be of excellent quality. It’s the difference between a mousse that bores and a mousse that stuns. Here’s a recipe that I’ve had so long I’m not sure of its origin, but I think it began in the New York Times. In any case, it’s had its share of tinkering and modifications. I love the combo of milk chocolate and caramel used here, but feel free to substitute dark chocolate.

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-feves

Here are some chocolate brands that make me want to get out of bed in the morning:

40% Jivara Lactee Feves – Valrhona – 3 kg

45% Grand Lait Minigrammes – Michel Cluizel – 11 kg

Whaddaya know? I go for the French stuff.

If you do a lot of baking, buying in bulk makes sense cost-wise, but if you don’t want to buy a honking 5 lb box, these brands can often be found in the fancier supermarkets in more manageable 4 or 8 oz blocks. I see Valrhona at Whole Foods all the time.

Milk Chocolate Caramel Mousse
makes 6 servings
recipe can be doubled

I used to be intimidated by the dry caramel method used here until I tried it. Now I think it’s far easier than the wet caramel method and will never go back! The sugar doesn’t crystallize.

1/3 cup (2.5 oz.) granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons (1.5 oz; 42 g) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (12 fluid oz.) heavy cream, divided into 1 cup (8 oz) and 1/2 cup (4 oz)
4 oz. high quality milk chocolate


1. Just 4 happy ingredients!

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-ingredients

 

2. Start by making the caramel: sprinkle a thin layer of  sugar in a lightly colored-pan set over medium-high heat. ( A light pan will help you gage the color of the caramel.)

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-sugar-start

 

In a minute or 2 it starts to melt. Don’t bother to stir or anything.

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-sugar-melting

 

Sprinkle more sugar. The heat of the already melted sugar will start melting the new addition right away.

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-sugar-add

Keep adding until all your sugar is in. This may take 2 or 3 additions. It will melt quickly and the edges will color faster than the center. Swirling the pan around helps get the sugar to caramelize more evenly.


In a few minutes, the sugar goes amber, like this:

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-sugar-amber

3. Now you must work quickly to avoid burning the sugar. Sprinkle in the butter lumps, and whisk them in.

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-add-butter

 

4. Now, add the 1/2 cup of cream, but GRADUALLY. The cream will sputter and roil when it comes in contact with the hot sugar. Some of the sugar will seize and harden a little, but keep whisking. It will dissolve.

Here I added a small dribble of cream and whisked it in:

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-add-cream

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-cream-whisk

 

Then I added another dribble of cream and whisked again. How about those angry bubbles?

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-more-cream

 

And the final addition of cream. Ooooh, yeah.

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-final-cream

 

Caramel, all whisked up and smooth. Remove pan from heat and let it rest until we get to it.

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-caramel-done

 

5. Meanwhile, take the remaining 1 cup of cream, and whip it to soft peak.

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-whip-cream

 

You can see trails in the cream, but it’s still kind of droopy and doesn’t hold a peak.

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-whipped-cream

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-whipped-cream-whisk

Pop this bowl of cream in the fridge to keep it chilled while we melt chocolate.

 

6. Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, and rest a bigger bowl filled with your chocolate over said pot. This is our faux double boiler. If you have a real double boiler that’s been waiting for this special occasion, use it now!

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-chocolate-melt-1

 

Don’t let any water get into your chocolate or you will witness a grainy mess. Gently let it melt, stirring occasionally to help it along.

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-chocolate-meltingOooooh.

7. Once it’s completely melted, remove from the heat, and stir in the caramel.

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-caramel-to-chocolate

 

You will notice the texture is mottled and dull, like this. Don’t stop here.

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-grainy

 

Grab a whisk, and work up some elbow grease. You’re trying to create an emulsion. Whisk in a rapid, circular motion like you’re trying to rev up an engine.  Start from the center and whisk outward, in concentric circles. The mix should end up glossy and very smooth. This will make the texture of the mousse luxuriously creamy.

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-emulsion

 

8. Make sure the contents are lukewarm or cooler. (A chance to taste test, in my book.) If the mix is still hot, let it sit until it’s cool enough. Scoop about 1/3 of the whipped cream into the bowl and gently fold it in. This will help lighten the dense chocolate and ensure better incorporation of the whipped cream.

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-fold-cream-1

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-fold-cream-2

It doesn’t have to be 100% incorporated yet.

Add the rest of the whipped cream and gently fold that in too, just until all the cream is incorporated.

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-fold-cream-3

 

Here is the final mousse. It’s quite loose here, but still has body. It looks like a very thick chocolate drink. Pour it into ramekins or glasses and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight to allow it to set up.

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-ready

 

Diggin’ in..

milk-chocolate-caramel-mousse-in-glass

 

 

Milk Chocolate Caramel Mousse
makes 6 servings
recipe can be doubled

1/3 cup (2.5 oz.) granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups cream, divided into 1 cup and 1/2 cup
4 oz. high quality milk chocolate

1. Start by making the caramel: sprinkle a thin layer of  sugar in a lightly colored-pan set over medium-high heat. ( A light pan will help you gage the color of the caramel.)
2. Sprinkle in more sugar. The heat of the already melted sugar will start melting the new addition right away. 
3. Keep adding until all your sugar is in. This may take 2 or 3 additions. It will melt quickly and the edges will color faster than the center. Swirling the pan around helps get the sugar to caramelize more evenly.  In a few minutes, the sugar goes amber.
4. Now you must work quickly to avoid burning the sugar. Sprinkle in the butter lumps, and whisk them in.
5. Now, add the 1/2 cup of cream, but GRADUALLY, in 2 or 3 additions. The cream will sputter and roil when it comes in contact with the hot sugar. Some of the sugar will seize and harden a little, but keep whisking. It will dissolve. Once it’s smooth, remove pan from heat and let it rest until we get to it.
6. Meanwhile, take the remaining 1 cup of cream, and whip it to soft peak. Keep chilled in the fridge while we proceed with the recipe.
7. Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, and rest a bigger bowl filled with your chocolate over said pot. This is our faux double boiler. If you have a real double boiler that’s been waiting for this special occasion, use it now! Don’t let any water get into your chocolate or you will witness a grainy mess. Gently let it melt, stirring occasionally to help it along.
8. Once it’s completely melted, remove from the heat, and stir in the caramel. Grab a whisk, and work up some elbow grease. You’re trying to create an emulsion. Whisk in a rapid, circular motion like you’re trying to rev up an engine.  Start from the center and whisk outward, in concentric circles. The mix should end up glossy and very smooth. This will make the texture of the mousse luxuriously creamy.
9. Make sure this chocolate mix is lukewarm or cooler before folding in the cream. (A chance to taste test, in my book.) If the mix is still hot, let it sit until it’s cool enough. If you try to fold in the cream while it’s too warm, it will all turn soupy.
10. Scoop about 1/3 of the whipped cream into the bowl and gently fold it in. This will help lighten the dense chocolate and ensure better incorporation of the whipped cream. Add the rest of the whipped cream and gently fold that in too, just until all the cream is incorporated. It will still be quite loose, but should have body. It will look like a very thick chocolate drink. Pour it into ramekins or glasses and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight to allow it to set up.
11.  Dig in.






72 Responses to “Hello Again, Chocolate Mousse”

  1. PastryPal says:

    Hi Eleni—Heavy cream. I always use heavy cream for the high fat content. Good luck doing this recipe “on site.” Let me know how it goes.

  2. MTD says:

    Tried this recipe yesterday. What a wonderful taste. I was surprised by the creamy texture. Perhaps i will try it in a cake??? I have searched for a gelatine free recipe for a long time, and this was perfect. Very practically with the photos and detailed instructions.

    MTD, Norway

  3. PastryPal says:

    MTD — I’m so glad you liked it. Yes, feel free to try it in a cake. I would keep the mousse layer thin because since there is no gelatin, it doesn’t have a lot of structure and the weight of the cake layers might squish it out.

  4. Amanda says:

    Hi – this is what I shall be making tomorrow – please could you tell me how many fluid ounces of cream you use? Looking forward to it…

  5. Amanda says:

    Sorry but don’t know how to convert cups to fluid ounces – would be great if you could let me know. Going to make this tomorrow for guests. Thanks.

  6. PastryPal says:

    Hi Amanda — 1 cup = 8 oz, so the 1 1/2 cups cream would be 12 oz. I also added it to the recipe. Good luck!

  7. [...] the salted caramel (based on Irina’s dry caramel method in this mousse post – she has great step by step photos that you should check out before trying [...]

  8. Amy says:

    This recipe is amazing! So easy to follow, especially with the photos given. I just made it and I’m blown away by the flavor. Simply delicious!!!

  9. PastryPal says:

    Amy, Thank you for trying the recipe and for your kind comment. I was shocked by the amazing flavor when I first made it, too!

  10. Erika says:

    Very good recipe! Thank You!

    Erika from Hungary :)

  11. rams says:

    Eleni …I made this today and it is waiting in the fridge..Thanks for the wonderful recipe and detailed explanation.I have a doubt..what is the difference between this mousse and chocolate whipped cream…

  12. Bridget says:

    Oh my.. Amazing flavor and texture. Definitely a “keeper”. Thank you, thank you.. (although my thighs are not so thankful..)

  13. angelicablue says:

    This is indeed WONDERFUL! But like another commenter, I had to throw away my first bowl of the caramel/chocolate mix when it went all grainy…here’s how I resolved it! I made a 2nd pan of caramel, then measured out my chocolate chunks again, and dropped a few chunks at a time from my hand into the warm caramel. When they melted, I carefully folded the mix together, and repeated, a few chunks at a time, until I incorporated all the chocolate into the caramel. Worked like a charm for me!! (And to think I was far more panicked about making the caramel, which actually turned out just as described, twice!) I know my chocolate wasn’t wet, but I thought maybe the temperature of the cooled caramel and the hot melted chocolate just didn’t “mesh”, since when I combined them, the butter immediately separated out & the rest went grainy. Final result was smooth, creamy and delicious, especially with a little rock sea salt sprinkled on top of the dessert!

  14. Elizabeth says:

    I just stumbled upon your blog (had to see what the Macaron-buzz was all about). It looks really good, but (a small but), I am from Europe and use the metric system. Have you considered maybe integrating some sort of converting system on your blog, or maybe have the amounts in metric also?
    (the problem with desert recipes is that you have to follow them accurately for the best result).

    Im looking forward to looking around your blog and get inspired :)

  15. PastryPal says:

    Hi Elizabeth — Welcome to the blog! For all recipes, I try to do a conversion for grams. Any other details that I miss, like oven temp for example, anyone can easily google.

  16. isa says:

    THis is my second time making it and it was perfect again…! Thank you so much for sharing wonderful recipes. Isa from Costa Rica

  17. Isla says:

    Wow, fantastic!!!! Just about to make this and I love your blog, subbed!!

    http://thenovemberedition.blogspot.com

  18. ginger says:

    You are a genius! This looks amazing! And Jaques Torres is my hero! If I ever left my husband for anyone it would be him.

  19. Claire says:

    Made this once and was perfect, ever since, when I’ve combined choc and caramel it has congealed and gone lumpy…any ideas?
    Also finding it hard to make caramel smoothest hour lumps.

  20. Kathy says:

    Can I freeze a cake that has chocolate mousse as a filling? I have a fiftieth anniversry cake to make but I will be away on business until the day of the celebration. I would like to use mousse as a filling and make it ahead of time and freeze the cake.
    Thank you for your answer.

  21. seth says:

    Oh no! I’ve tried to make mousse a few times because I loooove it at restaurants – but something always goes wrong. I’d never made caramel before and your step by step guided me right through it, no problem! But the mousse did not look like a thick chocolate drink at the end… it was more fluffy and I had to scoop it in to cups. Do you have any idea what I did wrong?

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