A Matter of Mousse

Mousse, the French word for “foam,” is a prepared food that incorporates air bubbles to give it an airy texture. It can range from light and fluffy to creamy and thick, depending on preparation techniques, and can be sweet or savory.

Dessert mousse is typically made with beaten egg whites or whipped cream, and most often flavored with chocolate or puréed fruit.

Savory mousses can be made of fish and may contain herbs for flavoring. They sometimes rely on unflavored gelatin to hold their texture and shape.

The first written record of chocolate mousse in the United States comes from a food exposition held at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1892.

A “Housekeeper’s Column” in the Boston Daily Globe of 1897 published one of the first recipes for chocolate mousse. The dish was more like chocolate pudding instead of today’s stiff, but fluffy, mousse.

Mousse became popular with the introduction of electric mixers as this made the foaming process much, much easier. As a matter of fact, mousse is so popular that it’s even got its own national holiday! You can celebrate National Mousse day on Monday, November 30, by trying one of our tasty recipes below.

Mocha Chocolate Mousse

  • 3/4 cup chilled heavy cream or topping, divided
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup espresso or strong coffee
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate (60–72% cacao), chopped
  • 2 large egg whites

Beat 1/2 cup cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form; cover and chill.

Combine egg yolks, espresso, salt and 2 tbsp. sugar in a large metal bowl. Set over a saucepan of gently simmering water (do not allow bowl to touch water). Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is lighter in color and almost doubled in volume, about 1 minute.

Remove bowl from pan. Add chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth. Let stand, whisking occasionally, until room temperature.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites in another medium bowl on medium speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually beat in remaining 1 tbsp. sugar. Increase speed to high and beat until firm peaks form.

Fold egg whites into chocolate in 2 additions; fold whipped cream into mixture just to blend.

Divide mousse among six small glasses or ramekins. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours.

Mousse can be made 1 day ahead; cover and keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

Before serving, whisk remaining 1/4 cup cream in a small bowl until soft peaks form; pipe or spoon over mousse.

Classic Chocolate Mousse

  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 6 ounces margarine, cut into small pieces
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur or red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a double boiler, melt together with the chocolate and margarine, whisking over the barely simmering water, until smooth. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk the yolks of the eggs with the 2/3 cup of sugar and liqueur for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is thick. Then fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy. Continue to beat until they start to hold their shape. Whip in the tablespoon of sugar and continue to beat until thick and shiny, but not completely stiff, then the vanilla.

Fold one third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder of the whites just until incorporated, but don’t overdo it or the mousse will lose volume.

Transfer the mousse to 6 martini glasses or dessert bowls and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm.

Many ingredients are prone to infestation. Please consult a local Rav for specific guidelines on how to avoid transgressions related to insects.

Readers may submit questions to the Culinary Connoisseur, c/o Hamodia, 207 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11230 or via e-mail to peppermill@hamodia.com. This weekly column has been brought to you by The Peppermill, the world’s first kosher kitchenware store, located at 5015 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. (718) 871-4022. You can also read a selection of previous columns in their comprehensive cookbook, The Culinary Connoisseur, available now at your local Judaica and kitchenware stores. Jam-packed with delicious recipes, insightful food information and helpful cooking tips, this book is certain to become your constant companion in the kitchen.