I’m on the fence about mousse. On one hand, it’s delicious when it’s done right. It’s light, it’s smooth, it’s silky. It’s a chocolate-flavored cloud.

On the other hand, it’s a dessert, and I try not to eat those too often. Yes, I make cupcakes, but one of the reasons I like making cupcakes is that they’re very easy to give to other people. It’s not so easy for Geordie to take a bowl of mousse to work and give everyone a handful. I like to make a dessert that’s all about sharing, because I have enough calories going into me. I don’t want to worry about having more, even if they are delicious.

But with mousse, I’ve just got a bowl of it sitting in the fridge, and I don’t really see myself eating much of it.

This started out with some trepidation on my part. Mousse is one of those delicate desserts that requires very few ingredients (chocolate, eggs, a little salt, and a little sugar) but some technique. Chocolate is melted, egg yolks are added and beaten in, egg whites are beaten with salt and sugar to somewhat firmish peaks and then folded into the chocolate. It takes a light hand if you want to maintain that creamy texture and lightness.

I had problems with this from the start. As soon as I saw “bittersweet,” I should have rethought things. Or added more sugar to the egg whites. I am not a big fan of bittersweet. I am not a big fan of “bitter,” period. When I get a mouth full of bitter, it usually turns me right off, whether it’s in a sweet dish or a savory one. When it comes to desserts, when I see the word “bittersweet,” I automatically go with something more sweet and less bitter. For the mousse, I settled on a 60% cocoa chocolate, thinking that would be tolerable.

I melted the chocolate just fine, gently and smoothly. As soon as I started adding my egg yolks, it seized up, the result of too warm chocolate and still too cold eggs. I stress a little about this kind of thing (I’ve had chocolate seize on me before), so I thought I had done everything I could to avoid it. Nope. Seized right up.

It was 9pm, I had no more chocolate, and I wasn’t about to wait put this off until the next day, when I would be busy with other things. I beat those eggs and chocolate, set them aside, and tackled the egg whites. I wasn’t about to abandon this halfway.

At least the egg whites cooperated. I finally had a good excuse to use my new hand mixer, which worked quite well despite it being the cheapest one I could buy.

I didn’t get a lot of pictures of the mousse-making process, and this is the only one that looks halfway decent. I love the look of egg whites beaten to a moderate peak. So soft and fluffy-looking.

I figured I might as well keep on going since I’d already come this far. And I was happy with the egg whites. I took a big scoopful and flumped it on top of the chocolate and began to gently whisk it in.

Egg white magic! Almost immediately, the chocolate mixture began to relax a little and become smoother. It became whiskable, which was an improvement. I continued adding the egg whites a little at a time, and with each addition, the mousse began to look more mousse-like. By the time all the egg whites had been added, smoothness had been achieved.

Smooth? Yes. Shiny? Yes. Silky? Eh. Pretty? No, not really. Let’s face it: it’s a puddle of brown goo.

But.

Yes, there’s a but. I liked the texture of this mousse. But it is so rich. I ate maybe two spoonfuls. Small ones. That was enough for me. I couldn’t handle any more of it. I handed a small bowl of it to Geordie, and he ate all of it, so I wouldn’t say there’s anything wrong with it. It’s just too much for me. I should have either added more sugar to the egg whites or some vanilla to the yolks. Or something.

No, what I really should have done was have some mildly-sweetened whipped cream on hand to fold into it. That would have made it lighter and airier and just sweet enough to knock back the bitterness again.

The best picture I could get of the mousse. It did not like having its picture taken.

So, it wasn’t a total loss. It was a super-easy mousse. And it is loaded with the flavor and richness one would expect from a mousse. I just think I need to tone it down some for me to enjoy it. After a night in the fridge, the texture firmed up nicely – still smooth but less liquidy. It’s still got all its flavor too. A spoonful was enough for me.

Would I make it again? Absolutely. But not without a few changes. Either I use milk chocolate or I add a little sugar and mix in some whipped cream to the original. Also, I would make sure the eggs are solidly room temperature. It’s definitely worth another try though, and because it’s so simple and can spend some time in the fridge, I think it would be great to serve as a dessert at a dinner for friends. Maybe with some raspberries. Something to pretty it up a bit. Maybe it’s not my favorite recipe from Around My French Table, but I can see its merits. I think I just need to work on my technique.

To see some other (beautiful!) mousses, check out French Fridays with Dorie. The cooks there have turned out some truly lovely chocolate decadences!

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