Chocolate mousse is one of my favourite desserts, primarily because no matter how much I’ve eaten I can always manage more. This mousse is so simple and light, it’s perfect for having friends over. But it’s also ideal for a late-night snack when you need something sweet.
This recipe takes around 15 minutes to make, and around an hour to chill. It serves two, but can be halved for one, or doubled to make enough for four and so on. It can be kept in the fridge for up to two days, but the longer you leave it the denser it becomes, so it’s best eaten on the same day you make it.
You will need:
- 100g chocolate (I tend to use Bourneville, or half milk and half dark)
- Wedge of fresh lemon
- 2 eggs, yolks and whites separated
You will also need a medium bowl, a large bowl, a saucepan, and an electric whisk.
Half-fill the saucepan with water and bring to a simmer. Sit the large bowl on the pan and add the 100g chocolate, stirring every now and then until fully melted. Take the large bowl off the pan and set to one side.
Take the lemon wedge and wipe it round the inside of the medium bowl – this will prevent the egg whites splitting when you whisk them. Then tip in the two egg whites and whisk until it forms soft peaks. Put to one side.
Tip the two egg yolks into the large bowl of chocolate and use the electric whisk to combine quickly – it should be smooth and shiny when combined. Finally, fold in the egg whites gradually, being careful not to knock any air out. Spoon into glasses or small bowls and leave to set in the fridge for an hour.
NOTE: You can eat this straight from the bowl if you don’t have time to chill it down. But I’ve also left it in the fridge for 24 hours and eaten it as a thicker mousse.
So, what am I actually doing?
When making this mousse, you want to whip the egg whites into firm peaks – that means to the point when they stand up on their own (you can hold the bowl upside down over your head if you are brave enough!). The peaks are formed from the protein in the egg whites.
However, egg whites are 90% water and only 10% protein, meaning the egg whites will collapse if you over-whip them. This is because the water has separated from the protein. Once over-whipped, you will get a watery mass at the bottom of the bowl – in this case, you just need to start again (sorry!).
However, lemon acts as a stabiliser (along with alternatives such as vinegar and cream of tartar). Wiping your bowl with the chunk of lemon helps to bind the protein with the water, meaning they are less likely to separate and making your life a little easier.
Another quick tip: when whisking the egg whites, use a non-plastic bowl if possible (such as metal or ceramic). Plastic tends to retain a thin layer of residue from previous uses, which can interfere with both the flavour and stability of the egg whites. If you don’t have anything else, don’t panic – this is simply a tip to help you get the best out of the recipe.