Focus on Food
A Missing Delight
The case for mousse au chocolat
Story and Photograph by Rose Shewey
I recently came across a clip of Arnold Schwarzenegger making a protein shake. I watched with intrigue as he cracked a raw egg into his shake and, for good measure, threw in the shell, too! For extra calcium, he said. What a savage move! I know most people wouldn’t go near his concoction because of the raw egg in it, which prompted me to take a quick mental inventory of other foods we eat regularly, perhaps unwittingly, that call for glibbery whites and runny yolks.
On the top of my list: traditionally prepared ice cream, followed by tiramisu and mayonnaise (all of which can relatively easily be made egg free), and lastly, mousse au chocolat, which seems to have gone missing — it’s virtually absent from every dessert menu I have laid my eyes on recently.
So, why is mousse au chocolat not as popular as it used to and deserves to be? Could it be the raw eggs? It stands to reason. Raw eggs have most certainly acquired a bad rap over the past couple of decades. On top of that, a large number of mousse au chocolat recipes in the U.S. call for whipped cream to be folded into the melted chocolate as opposed to peaky egg whites (in fact, the original recipe does not contain cream at all). The result is something between a chocolate ganache and chocolate pudding, at best — tasty, but nothing to write home about. It’s the glossy, whipped egg whites that create the unique frothy texture in mousse au chocolat, which is paradoxically rich and airy at the same time. So, this missing delight finds itself between a rock and a hard place; it’s either made poorly or, evidently, not at all.
The decision is yours, of course. I have safely (but also cautiously) prepared and eaten raw eggs my whole life. Beyond that, I have experimented for over a decade with substituting plant-based whole food ingredients for animal-derived ones and have had great success with a lot of dishes. However, mousse au chocolat is not one of them. As much as I enjoy some avocado or aquafaba “mousse,” they are not a match for the centuries-old original; lacking in structure, like a cheap wine. So, if you have access to fresh, quality eggs, skip all the mousse imposters and make this confection just as people have for over 200 years, with satiny egg whites and creamy yolks for the most extraordinary results.
Mousse au Chocolat
200 grams semi-sweet chocolate (12 percent sugar)
50 grams butter
200 milliliters heavy cream
30 grams granulated sugar
In a double boiler, slowly melt chocolate and butter. Whip cream and set aside in the refrigerator. Separate eggs and beat egg whites (with clean beaters) until they form stiff peaks. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks with sugar until the mixture turns light in color, stir in chocolate-butter mixture, and immediately fold in egg whites and whipped cream, using a spoon or spatula. Do not over-mix to avoid deflating the mousse, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or any toppings of your choice. PS
German native Rose Shewey is a food stylist and food photographer. To see more of her work visit her website, suessholz.com.