I've never really been much of a chocolate mousse fan. It always seemed bland, boring, and insubstantial to me, something I'd most often see at the dessert line at cheap dinner buffets.
But the chocolate mousse I've been acquainted with must have been melted chocolate mixed with Cool Whip, or something, because the chocolate mousse I made last week? It was heavenly. I was licking my spatula, my bowl, my fingers, anything that had come in contact with the chocolate mousse and moaning, "Mmmmn, this is so good. David, you have to try this - it's the best chocolate mousse I've ever eaten," which was rather unbecoming considering that I was the one who made it. Humility FAIL.
The recipe calls for fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, but since this mousse was for the under-10 crowd, I used semisweet chocolate chips. You'll also need a candy or instant-read thermometer - the mousse base needs to reach a temperature high enough to cook the egg yolks, but not so high as to curdle the egg yolks.
I used this to fill a birthday cake for my nephew. I'll post the cake recipe when I get the pictures from my sister-in-law; until then, here's the recipe for the mousse.
Adapted from Gourmet, December 2002
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or semisweet chocolate chips)
Heat 3/4 cup cream in a heavy saucepan until hot. Whisk together yolks, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a metal bowl until combined well, then add hot cream in a slow stream, whisking until combined. Transfer mixture to saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until it registers 160°F on a candy thermometer. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and stir in vanilla.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in a glass bowl in a microwave at 50 percent power 3 to 5 minutes), stirring frequently. Whisk custard into chocolate until smooth, then cool.
Beat remaining 1 1/4 cups cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until it holds stiff peaks. Whisk one fourth of cream into chocolate custard to lighten it, then fold in remaining cream gently but thoroughly.
Spoon mousse into a bowl and chill, covered, at least 6 hours. If you want a pretty presentation, you can spoon it into wine glasses or ramekins instead of a bowl. Let stand at room temperature about 20 minutes before serving.