Chocolate Mousse

The chocolate can be melted in a tablespoon of black coffee rather than water. A tablespoon of rum added instead will do no harm.–Elizabeth David

LC Instant Gratification Note

Behold, a seemingly sophisticated dessert that comes together in minutes from just two pantry staples. Right?! You may wish to stash this little number in your apron pocket for those all-too-frequent occasions that require a chocolate fix, whether fancy or just fancy free. While the appeal of this chocolate mousse is quite current, bear in mind, the recipe itself may seem somewhat dated, melting the chocolate on the stovetop rather than in the microwave and omitting sugar so as to err on the bitter edge. We’re of the opinion that, like wrinkles and other eccentricities born of a long life well lived, these charming traits add character. We think Elizabeth David would agree.

Raw Egg Reminder Note: Hey, in case you hadn’t noticed, this recipe contains raw egg. Please be mindful if making it for anyone for whom this is a potential no-no.

Chocolate Mousse Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 20 M
  • Servings vary

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, per person
  • 1 tablespoon water, per person
  • 1 large egg, per person

Directions

  • 1. Melt the chocolate in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a low flame with the water. Stir the chocolate until it is smooth. Let it cool slightly, perhaps 5 minutes or so.
  • 2. Separate the egg(s). Beat the yolk(s) in a bowl. Slowly stir the melted chocolate into the yolk(s).
  • 3. Whip the whites until very stiff and gently fold them over and over into the chocolate, so that they are perfectly blended, otherwise the chocolate may sink to the bottom. Place the mousse in ramekins or a lovely glass if making it for one or two, or a soufflé dish if serving several guests. Check so that the mixture just about comes to the top of the dish, as nothing is sadder than a small amount of mousse hiding at the bottom of a huge glass bowl.
  • 4. Refrigerate for 10 minutes if your craving is intense, 30 minutes if you have a little patience, or 3 hours or so if you’re serving at a dinner party. Don’t refrigerate it much longer, as this tends to make the texture too hard.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Kristin Cole

May 12, 2011

I’ll most definitely memorize this recipe for future impromptu desserts. Super easy, and hit the spot with its light, creamy texture. As a sea salt fanatic, I’m always sprinkling the tiniest flakes into my dishes, and this mousse is no exception. It brought out the best in the chocolate and didn’t hide that tinge of French-press coffee I added early on. Next time, I might be tempted to add some lemon or orange zest as a garnish. Also, refrigerating this dessert for about 10 minutes is just about as long as you’ll be able to resist before you dig in!

Testers Choice
Melissa Maedgen

May 12, 2011

This is such an easy dish to make that there’s no excuse not to do it. It’s also a wonderfully adaptable recipe. I made this twice. Once using a 70 percent cacao dark chocolate, and again using a white chocolate. You could really use any type of chocolate here, depending upon your taste. Keep in mind that the only sweetening in this recipe comes from the chocolate itself. With the 70 percent dark chocolate, I got an intensely-flavored mousse with very little sweetness. So if you like a sweeter mousse, you might want to use a milder dark chocolate with less cocoa solids, or even a milk chocolate. The white chocolate version I made was a very different animal—much sweeter, but still delicious. Both versions were lovely garnished with fresh strawberries.

Testers Choice
Joan Osborne

May 12, 2011

This was an easy recipe with delicious results—a nice, light dessert to finish off any meal. I had some hot strong coffee on hand and used that in the chocolate. I didn’t even need to turn on my stove. All I had to do was stir the hot coffee into the chocolate, and it melted perfectly. I made four individual servings in ramekins, as suggested in the recipe. I’ll make this recipe again.

Testers Choice
Debbie White

May 12, 2011

I like the “ratio” concept of this recipe (with credit to Michael Ruhlman). For the two of us, I used 2 ounces of 55 percent chocolate, 2 large eggs, and 2 tablespoons of espresso. I put the chocolate into a small Pyrex and measured in the hot espresso, then popped it into the microwave for 30 seconds to melt the chocolate. I think there should be more detailed instructions on adding the chocolate to the beaten egg yolks so as not to cook the eggs—I added the still-quite-warm chocolate very slowly while stirring constantly. (Or should the chocolate be cooled for a little while, instead?) I put the finished mousse into the refrigerator for about a half-hour to set, and the texture was mousse-like, not hard. My husband would’ve liked a firmer texture, closer to a pudding, but I think the texture was exactly what Ms. David was looking for. The flavor of the espresso was notable, but not overwhelming. I also think this would be good with some Grand Marnier instead of espresso—perhaps half water, half Grand Marnier. Or Kahlua. The possibilities are really endless—whatever you like with chocolate. Definitely a keeper. But don’t serve to anybody who shouldn’t be eating raw eggs.

Testers Choice
Eydie Desser

May 12, 2011

This is a must-make dessert. The chocolate mousse is so delicious, so easy, so elegant. This is the perfect dessert to make for just you and your special someone, or even for a large party. I made only 2 servings and whisked the egg whites by hand—which wasn’t easy. Making more servings would be an even easier task since you can whip up the whites in a stand mixer. I used coffee instead of the water, which gave the mousse depth. Next time, I’m going to try Kahlua or Frangelico, which might add an interesting dimension. The ideas are endless. I love this recipe.

Testers Choice
Sara Jones

May 12, 2011

This very straightforward recipe appeared too simple to me. I was surprised to get such good results without cream, but the mousse does come out creamy and light. Using the microwave to melt the chocolate, the recipe took less than 5 minutes to complete. I used it as the top layer of a multi-layered chocolate cherry pie and used kirsch instead of rum. I would use this mousse in similar applications, to add another element to a fancy dessert. I probably wouldn’t serve the mousse all by itself, though. But if you wanted to make a really simple dessert, the strong dark chocolate flavor goes great with tart fruit. Notes:
1. I wanted a little more hand-holding through the recipe. Google searches didn’t turn up any mousse recipes this simple, and I kept thinking somehow I was reading the recipe wrong and missing an ingredient.
2. It was hard to detect, but the mousse had a granular appearance (though not texture). Was this because I didn’t fold in the egg whites properly, or didn’t beat them to the proper stage? The recipe doesn’t address this.

Testers Choice
Cindi Kruth

May 12, 2011

The utter simplicity of this recipe turns out not to be its best feature. Instead, it’s the pure chocolate taste and lovely light texture. This is very nearly the chocolate mousse recipe I’ve used for decades, although mine has a slightly higher proportion of chocolate. Some may prefer mousse that includes butter, sugar, or cream, but I find those too rich to enjoy for more than a few spoonfuls. This mousse, while light, still tastes decidedly of chocolate, and I can eat a whole serving—or two. Of course, you must use only the highest-quality chocolate; something you’d eat straight. That said, the recipe definitely requires a raw egg warning. Unless you can buy pasteurized eggs, this is not a dish to serve to the very young or very old, or anyone with a compromised immune system since there’s a small—but real—risk of harmful bacteria in any uncooked egg dish. Despite the warning that this becomes too hard if refrigerated, that’s the safest way to store it. How it sets up depends on a few factors. The first is what chocolate you use. Chocolates vary widely in cocoa butter and chocolate solids content. The second is how firmly you beat the egg whites. I don’t beat egg whites for uncooked dishes until “very” stiff. I find that just-stiff peaks fold best and set up just right. If aiming for very stiff, it’s easy to overbeat the whites, especially since there’s no addition of sugar, which will produce a somewhat less smooth mousse. Finally, your folding technique will have an impact, too. The recipe cautions to blend perfectly, but be careful too not to overdo it or the mousse will be deflated and heavy.

Testers Choice
Rebecca R.

May 12, 2011

This was sublime for so few ingredients and so little work! This is the place to use your premium dark chocolate, as the flavor really shines through. I also like that it’s so easily customized for an individual treat or expanded for the number of people being served. I couldn’t resist the temptation of whipping up a single serving, and it didn’t disappoint. Even in the small batch, the recipe worked well and yielded a very generous serving (too much for my 4-ounce ramekin). I didn’t use the coffee or the rum, and the chocolate flavor was perfect on its own. This recipe is so simple that it’s easily memorized. My only small quibble with it is the direction to let it set in a cool place to set. I would’ve liked some indication of how long to let it sit, or how firm the texture is supposed to be. For my first try, I only held out an hour before needing to try it. The second time I let it sit for 4 hours. There really was no difference in the texture between the two batches—both had a very soft texture that melts in the mouth, and they were almost liquid at the bottom of my ramekins. Having previously only eaten firmer mousse that was made with whipped cream, I’m not really sure if this is the desired texture or not for this type.

Testers Choice
Alexander Cowan

May 12, 2011

OK, I messed this one up in a panic. All was going well until I tasted the chocolate base before mixing it in with the egg whites—it was really bitter. I didn’t want the 4 servings to be bitter for dinner guests, so added 1 tablespoon of sugar per serving. At that point, the base tasted more well-rounded and nicely sweet. I continued with the recipe, then set it in the fridge, as it was awhile before the dinner guests were to arrive. When it came time to have dessert, the mousse had set up perfectly—not too hard at all, as the author described. However, when I took my first bite, the only thing I could think of was that I added too much sugar! While it wasn’t cloyingly sweet, I do wish it had been more toned down in terms of its sweetness. When I remake this perfectly simple recipe, I’ll take a few deep breaths, remain calm, and stop myself from being the sugar fairy.

Testers Choice
Sandy Hill

May 12, 2011

What an awesome chocolate mousse! So fast to make and with just a few ingredients, it could almost be a last-minute dessert. What an elegant mousse those ingredients produce. I’ll definitely keep this recipe close by!

Comments
Comments
  1. Amy says:

    Not my favorite chocolate mousse (I prefer mine more firm and dense) and I wonder if it would receive so many positive reviews if it weren’t for its simplicity. Of course we still polished off the ramekins and licked them clean!

    • David Leite says:

      Amy, I think its simplicity and provenance (Elizabeth David) adds to its popularity.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      As with so many things, I do think it’s all so personal, Amy. This is just how I like my mousse, on the softly whipped and falling over onto itself side of things…

  2. Randi says:

    I made the easy chocolate mousse with just egg yolks, whipped whites and melted chocolate (I substituted coffee for the liquid) and it was AMAZING ! Tasted very rich. I used Ghirardelli 60% cococa chips too. So easy to do especially when that chocolate craving kicks in. Thank you for posting that recipe.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      You’re so welcome, Randi. I know we’ve communicated by email, too, but I just want to say again thanks so much for taking the time to let us know how well it went.

      • Randi says:

        Just had to tell your readers that I prepared this at 10:30 AM and it still had that great soft texture when I served it at 8PM. My dinner guests could not believe how this simple recipe made such a rich and delicious dessert. I printed out the recipe to give to them!

        • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

          Thank you, Randi! For trusting us enough to make one of our recipes for friends, for sharing our recipe with them, and for taking a moment to let us know this. You made our day. Love to hear what recipe from the site you try next!

  3. ruthie says:

    OMG! Elizabeth David was a goddess. Her books are hell to cook from because of the narrative style that was prevalent most of her career, but evocative! You were there and life was elegant and you just had to figure that recipe out so your life could be just that elegant, too. Just a throw away comment about a weekend in the country gave me the basis of one of the best dishes I ever created. The Canal House ladies are much like her in their creativity and simplicity, probably why I like them so much.

    Sorry, gush over. ;) This recipes sounds killingly rich, but who cares? Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      You’re quite welcome, ruthie. And yes to what you said. All of it. Very well put, my dear.

  4. irene seales says:

    1 oz chocolate + 1 egg

    Amazing. Really flicking amazing! I served it in little 1/2 pint wide mouth canning jars (catering & bakery trick I’ve stolen). I actually used a 60% cocoa bar with hazelnuts and dried fruit and a little unsweetened so maybe a tiny bit over 2 oz. for the two of us. And it is a perfect single serving possibility.

    It was perfect after 10 minutes in the fridge. I actually forgot the water, so really I need to make it again. Soon.

    This small portion of chocolate (which I will definitely try with higher coca values, for, um, proper sample populations of course) has to be legal for even some of the more restricted diets and is so very satisfying.

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