My favorite dessert these days is chocolate mousse. It’s delicious, incredibly easy, no-bake, and doesn’t require a special container or pan. I made a lovely version last weekend that included orange zest (on Sarah’s suggestion). I am not generally a fan of chocolate and orange, but the result was aromatic and flavorful, and a big hit with our dinner guests.
Mousse comes from the French word for foam. Culinary historians believe that savory mousses (including meat or vegetables) first appeared in France in the 18th century; sweet ones developed towards the end of the 19th century. A traditional mousse contains eggs or gelatin, but the versions popularized in the United States and Great Britain in the 1960s often omit both. This could be attributed to the dangers of consuming raw egg, but given the popularity of tiramisu in the 1980s and 1990s, it’s probably a result of convenience.
Chocolate mousse can be served in many ways. You can chill it in a large glass bowl or in individual portions in martini glasses, ramekins, parfait glasses or dessert bowls. Don’t use wine glasses or other containers with narrow mouths, otherwise it might be difficult to extract your mousse. I have found that it is best to serve rich desserts in small portions, ensuring of course, that you have seconds in the fridge. If you serve them in large containers, your health conscious guests may leave a lot of their portion uneaten.
This orange chocolate mousse must be served with fresh whipped cream and can be topped with soft fruit (especially berries) or chocolate shavings. On the first night of our recent trip to Italy we indulged in dark chocolate mousse sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, which was an unusual and tasty combination.
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1-2 teaspoons orange zest (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
4 cups whipping cream, chilled
1/4 cup granulated sugar
fruit or chocolate shavings (optional)
- Bring 1 cup of cream to a boil. Turn off heat and stir in chocolate and orange zest or vanilla extract. Stir occasionally until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, beat 2 cups cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in cooled chocolate mixture.
- Pour into small glass bowls, ramekins or martini glasses.
- Refrigerate for 4-6 hours or overnight.
- Serve with 1 cup cream whipped to firm peaks. Garnish with berries, pomegranate seeds, orange wedges or chocolate shavings. Mousse will last 3-5 days covered and chilled.