A few days ago I received an email asking if I wanted to be a part of a recipe challenge and try a few of Jacques Pepin’s recipes from his latest cookbook, Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food. I was provided with recipes for an appetizer, main dish and a dessert and guess where my eyes went first….to the dessert recipe! As soon as I saw that it was for a chocolate mousse, I knew I had to make it. It didn’t hurt that I already had all of the ingredients at home (any excuse to have chocolate!). I was pretty pleased with this recipe and I enjoyed the rich taste and texture of the mousse. This is a heavy mousse, so a small serving is definitely enough (not that you can’t go back for seconds!).
(Original recipe, excerpted from Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food by Jacques Pepin)
Made with a warm emulsion of egg yolks and sugar, and finished with cream, this is the most classic of chocolate mousses. Cognac works well with chocolate, but it can be replaced by dark rum or Grand Marnier for a different flavour.
1/3 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted (See “How to melt chocolate” below)
2 cups heavy cream (a.k.a Whipping Cream)
2 teaspoons cognac
My notes on the ingredients:
-For the chocolate, I used a mix of bittersweet and semisweet chocolate
-Instead of cognac, I used dark rum
Reserve 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and combine the rest of the sugar with the egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl. Place the bowl in a skillet of hot tap water (or use a double boiler), and whisk the mixture for 3 minutes, or until it is fluffy, smooth, and at least doubled in volume.
Beat the reserved sugar with the cream in a large chilled bowl for a few minutes, or until soft peaks form; do not overwhip. Transfer about 3/4 cup of the whipped cream to another bowl to use as a decoration, and refrigerate.
Using a rubber spatula, combine the melted chocolate with the yolk mixture and the cognac. If the mixture starts to seize or break down, immediately stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of the whipped cream to smooth out the mixture. Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until incorporated. Transfer the mousse to a decorative bowl, cover, and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours.
At serving time, whip the reserved 3/4 cup whipped cream until stiff peaks form. Spoon the cream into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and decorate the top of the mousse with the cream, or spoon dollops of the cream onto the top of the mousse. Serve.
My notes on the directions:
-Be careful when you’re adding the alcohol to the yolk and melted chocolate mixture, as it may start to seize or breakdown, as mine did! Thankfully, I followed the direction to immediately stir some of the whipped cream into the mixture and it smoothed it out like a charm!
-I ended up with small morsels of solid chocolate in my mousse, likely due to the fact that it had seized, however I actually enjoyed the interesting texture it created
-I don’t think I will add any alcohol to the recipe next time as I’m not sure if it added much to the mousse
How to melt chocolate
Chocolate should be cut into small pieces of about equal size; the smaller the pieces, the faster they will melt.
To melt chocolate in a microwave oven, cover it and microwave it for 1-minute segments, leaving 3- to 4-minute intervals between the microwaving segments, so it does not scorch.
To melt chocolate conventionally, put the chocolate pieces in a stainless steel bowl set over a saucepan of hot water and stir occasionally until the chocolate melts.
What’s your favourite chocolate dessert?