Food

Old-School Chocolate Mousse

Old-School Chocolate Mousse recipe

Anyone who has ever come to my house for dinner knows that I try to be as unfussy an entertainer as possible. But last weekend I went off-roading a bit…

My friends were stopping by on Sunday night with their two young kids. Much to my delight, they do this fairly frequently, and most of the time I just throw together a big pot of pasta or a few pizzas topped with whatever I scavenged up at the Saturday farmer’s market. Maybe some chips and guac to start, maybe salsa. Maybe some cupcakes from the local bakery for dessert. Like I said, unfussy.

But this past weekend, I decided to make one of my favorite desserts that also happens to be kinda famously fussy: chocolate mousse. You have to separate eggs, you have to melt chocolate and bring it to the right temperature, you have to whip the whites to the right stiffness. (None of this is hard per se, but it does take more focus than swinging by the local bakery.)

But when I make it, I always think the same thing: Wow, is there a better dessert in the world than elegant, old-school, light-as-air chocolate mousse? When I was a kid, it was the ultimate Fancy Treat, especially when piled high with whipped cream.

Old-School Chocolate Mousse recipe

And now, as an adult, I have a whole new appreciation for the dessert because I can make it in advance when people are coming over. (In fact, mousse takes at least three hours to set, so in fact I have to make it in advance.) And those people almost always gasp with pleasure once it makes its way to the table. You can prepare it in individual portions of course, but lately, I’ve been into prepping the whole thing in a large-ish bowl topped with a big mess of freshly whipped cream.

Old-School Chocolate Mousse recipe

Old-School Chocolate Mousse with Whipped Cream
Serves 6-8

7 ounces good-quality chocolate (between 60-70% cacao)
6 eggs
pinch of salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in a metal bowl placed over a pan of simmering water. Set aside and let come to room temperature. (This is important.)

Separate six eggs into two medium-large mixing bowls. Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and whip until stiff but not dry. Stir the melted chocolate into the egg yolks until just combined. Then, using a rubber spatula, delicately fold in egg whites to the chocolate-egg mixture until combined. You do not want to overmix. Pour batter into a serving bowl (or individual bowls) and refrigerate for at least three hours.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, using an electric mixer (or a strong, enthusiastic wrist), whip the cream and vanilla extract together until stiff peaks appear. Spoon whipped cream on top of the mousse, the more artless you are about this, the better.

Thoughts? Do you love chocolate mousse, too? (At the restaurant Chez Janou in Paris, they bring a giant bowl to your table and give you a few heaping spoonfuls. It feels like one of life’s great pleasures!)

P.S. Chocolate banana bread, and a boxed brownie mix taste test.

(Photos by Alexandra Stafford for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Amy W says...

    …wait, is mousse just all raw eggs? Did I miss the cooking step?

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      Amy – Yes, traditional chocolate mousse is made with raw eggs. The only “cooking” is melting the chocolate in the first step.

  2. Alexandra says...

    Okay, I love the recipe, but all I can think of is David and Moira Rose (of Schitt’s Creek) arguing over how to “fold in” the cheese. I cry laughing every time I see this!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NywzrUJnmTo

  3. PB says...

    I made this yesterday and was SHOCKED at how easy and delicious it was. Truthfully, the whole time I kept wondering if I was doing it right because it was so easy. (I melted the chocolate in the microwave to make it even easier/quicker.) I also threw in a couple of raspberries for presentation. I’m considering making a maple whipped cream next time and seeing how that goes. I know, crazy.

    BONUS: all I had to get was chocolate because I had everything else on hand (which made splurging on the nicer chocolate a no-brainer.) My guests were ridiculously impressed, and my dog loved licking the whipped cream bowl.

    A win all-around! Thank you!!!

  4. Kate says...

    Is it typical to make mousse with no cream and only egg?

  5. Kim says...

    Oh no! I’m trying to make this right now but got a bit of water from the double broiler into the (pricey) chocolate. The chocolate immediately turned into a sand-like consistency. America’s Test Kitchen says, cointerintuitively, to add small a kings of boiling water to re-dissolve the chocolate. Hope it can be salvaged.

  6. Jen Smith says...

    Did you know there’s a cafe in Paris that has a classic French chocolate mousse on their dessert menu, but get this….they bring out a huge bowl and you literally serve yourself, as much as you’d like. I’m definitely going there one day!

    • Emma says...

      Chez Janou is the name of the restaurant. I am fortunate enough to have gone twice this year! That mousse is absolutely divine. I tell people it’s the best dessert I’ve ever had, hands down!

    • Cy says...

      Jo actually says the same thing in her post. Read above :)

  7. mmm so nice!

  8. This looks wonderful!!
    I love the Smitten Kitchen Chocolate Budino for a similar (but richer!) treat. One big difference…. the budino can be done from thought to finish in less than 30mins if you have all the ingredients on hand (and I usually do!).
    https://smittenkitchen.com/2019/06/chocolate-budino/

  9. becky says...

    So inspired to make a dairy free coconut cream version!

    • Lauren Roy says...

      was just thinking the same thing! So, would i just use canned coconut cream?

  10. This recipe should be called “welcome to France”.
    It is just the perfect recipe, the way we do it at home here (in France).
    Such a classic, such a staple.

  11. bea says...

    We love chocolate mousse here! It was the very first thing I was taught to cook as a child, and it’s my husband’s ever favourite dessert, so at one point we were making it so often that we were sort of tired of it. Have picked it up again lately, serving it in espresso cups for smaller (and fancy-er) portions. The only problem is that I’ve been making it without following a recipe forever, so every time the result is slightly different in texture. But always delicious!

    • Emmy says...

      About two years ago, my then 8 year old daughter wanted to learn how to cook a yummy dinner for the family “all by herself”. Chocolate mousse was on her menu and ever since it has become her signature dish. It has become part of our family tradition that she makes every time we go on holiday and since we always go to the same place in France, we have now rapidly become ‘brocante’ (garage sale) shoppers on the hunt for the perfect vintage glass dish(es) to serve it up in! I love how memories are made in special dishes!

  12. I was driving home from my psych appointment last week and had a craving of chocolate mousse so I swung by the shops and grabbed some cream and chocolate and made it for dessert that night. I’m not a fan of raw egg in desserts though so for those who want a non raw egg mousse this is the recipe I use, it’s so good :) https://cookiesandcups.com/easy-chocolate-mousse/

  13. Libby says...

    It freaks me out that mousse has raw eggs! Can you eat it while pregnant??

    • Katie says...

      It might be somewhat tempered from the chocolate; there Is a way to temper eggs in the shells it’s pretty tricky, I did it for some Royal icing while my sis was pregnant and I over cooked a few eggs before I got it but idk, nobody got sick! Lol tbh I don’t think I’d eat it pregnant but you’d have to ask someone who knows :)

  14. Jodi says...

    Uuuuum, I’ve always loved (but never made) chocolate mousse, but that’s a lot of raw egg! Now I feel unsure about eating it or making it, haha!

  15. tara says...

    so strange that the photographer of this is a food blogger, but is using jenny’s recipe? can you explain or give us details or reasoning behind this? are the photos of jenny’s actual recipe?

  16. Mary Manion says...

    I have my own secret mousse recipe. It all starts with Woodblock Chocolate…

  17. Darby says...

    Yum! I just made a chocolate silk pie which has almost the same ingredients except you also add butter and sugar. So good! The texture is amazing:)

  18. Sarah says...

    I moved to Belgium in my early twenties, and I must have looked pretty homesick and overwhelmed (I was trying to learn the language) because my elderly neighbor noticed and invited me over for dinner. She served a glorious chocolate mousse for dessert and I started crying because I was so grateful. She gave me the biggest grandma hug, prattled away in Flemish (I didn’t understand a word—for all I know, she was calling me a wimpy American), and then turned around and started playing Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” on the piano, of all things. The mousse, the hug, the Elton—I’ll never forget her kindness.

    • Lara says...

      What a sweet lady ! Some people know exactly what we need at the right moment !
      It’s about the little things !

    • Colleen says...

      Ooooh Sarah I love this story!!! Sounds like the perfect cure for homesickness.

    • Tonya says...

      I love this story so much!

    • Abby says...

      What a beautiful story! I currently live in Belgium and chocolate (mousse) is very much part of a balanced diet here for sure :)

  19. Kylie says...

    We call it “Shhocolate” Mousse at our place – sounds so fancy pants! La-di-da! ;)

  20. Perla says...

    This past weekend I got really busy in the kitchen . I was going to meet my sister on Sunday at the train station for a quick coffee. Every time we see each other i love to bake her something so that it reminds her of me throughout the following week .I made her carrot muffins , German stollen and chocolate granola .her husband texted me yesterday saying that I should probably make a second batch of granola ! I believe that food is a way to express your love to someone and I’m so glad to be able to do it !
    This mousse is exquisite! I am trying your recipe tomorrow ! This time I’m making it for ME !

  21. Kristin says...

    I just made chocolate mousse last week for a dinner party! I always hold my breath when I add the chocolate to the egg yolks – terrifying.

  22. agnes says...

    It is such a classic in France and your recipe is the exact same recipe my family has been using for generations! It’s just perfect. I love the sound of the first spoon in the mousse, fffffff. I haven’t made it for a few years now (got tired of it), I’ll definitely make some this week-end! The secret: take the best quality eggs and chocolate. AND: use biscuits instead of a spoon, to eat it (childhood memory).

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “I love the sound of the first spoon in the mousse, fffffff.” = love that :)

  23. Beth says...

    I still have dreams of the mouse at chez janou…. ten years later!

  24. janine says...

    Jenny, please invite me over for dinner and chocolate mousse. :)

  25. Jo says...

    My aunt is famous (to her family and friends!) for her chocolate mousse, and her recipe is pretty much like this, except she adds a small spoon of granulated instant coffee to the chocolate when it melts. It’s divine! You can’t really taste the coffee, it just adds a depth to the chocolate. She then leaves the finished mousse in the freezer overnight, and takes it out one hour or so before serving. She makes this for every single family event, and every time I visit there’s a bowl waiting for me! That’s love ❤️

    • Erin says...

      Instant coffee is also the secret to amazing chocolate ganache.

  26. LK says...

    This sounds like my mom’s famous chocolate mousse. It is a former restaurant recipe, and it feeds 40 people! We only make it for parties and Jewish holidays. She actually made it for my bat mitzvah!

  27. Allie says...

    Wait. Do people just happen to have fresh cupcakes from the local bakery stocked up in their homes? And that’s the definition of unfussy? Sign me up, I’m living wrong!

  28. Sarah says...

    I admire all people like Jenny who take on feats like this! However. If you, like me, are terrible at making desserts, I need you to know something. If you make a bowl of Jell-O chocolate pudding and fold in an entire container of regular Cool Whip…you will also have incredible (albeit significantly less fancy and more artificial) chocolate mousse.

    • Bonnie Fortune says...

      Thank you Sarah. This is important intel.

    • Ashley says...

      Also a good non-raw eggs option

    • Caroline says...

      Also, if you add crushed up Oreos and gummy worms to it, you will have dirt cake.

      I made it this summer with homemade chocolate pudding and whipped cream for my grandfather’s 90th birthday and every one from 3-90 enjoyed it thoroughly.

    • Sarah says...

      I’m having a dirt themed birthday party for my boys in February (no joke…they just love it) and I’m totally making dirt cake- thanks for the reminder!

  29. Janey says...

    My 12 year old son makes this exact chocolate mousse – recipe from his French grandmother – all by himself. He likes to put it in fancy cocktail glasses and grates dark chocolate on the top. Except when his little girl cousins visit, then it’s sprinkles. He’s always so proud! I really should get him to add a few more desserts to his repertoire :)

  30. Steph says...

    I remember when I was a little girl and my Aunt suggested I come over and make a fancy recipe with her of my choosing. I felt so special getting to choose anything I wanted and so I chose chocolate mousse! I still remember feeling like it took a really long time to make but I was so thrilled when we finally put it in a fancy dish and sat down to eat it. This brings back such a good memory I think I’m going to make this again very soon :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s so sweet, steph!

  31. Sasha L says...

    https://gourmandeinthekitchen.com/earl-grey-chocolate-pots-de-creme-recipe/

    In case anyone needs a dairy free chocolate treat, these are absolutely amazing, make ahead and super easy – not fussy at all. You can also sub peppermint tea for the Earl Grey (leave out the citrus peels), or cinnamon tea for a Mexican chocolate flavor. The Earl Grey + chocolate is so delicious and elegant!

  32. Ess says...

    Love it! My maybe slightly easier version of this is making chocolate pudding, from Smitten Kitchen. It has the some nostalgic treat notes for me. If I’m bringing someone a meal because they just had a baby or a loss or something, I try to include a big mason jar full of the homemade chocolate pudding. Ultimate comfort food at a time when its needed, and a good excuse for a double batch so I have some too!

  33. Anita says...

    I have a question about bringing ingredients to room temperature. Approx how long does it take for melted chocolate become proper room temperature? Is it a bad idea to speed up the process by putting in the fridge (or even freezer)? Also, the direction to whip egg whites until “stiff but not dry” makes me doubt that I could execute this correctly. In general I am really foggy about “stiff” egg whites (soft peaks vs. stiff peaks is another example). Does anyone have a good explanation, or a resource to share that explains this well? Thank you!

    • Laurie says...

      Stiff peak is when the egg whites are whipped to the point where stiff peaks form when you pull the beaters away. Soft peaks are when the peak falls back down to the egg whites (think of the curled top of soft serve ice cream). I think ‘dry’ would mean the peak is dry enough it would break off. Basically just whip until you make a peek that pulls away from the egg white. No worries- even if you don’t nail it it’s still going to be delicious :)

    • Tracey says...

      The comment below explains the egg issue. YouTube would be able to give you a better look. One thing I will offer, to you and others who think they will muck it up: the only way you’ll get better is to give it a go. I’m a great cook these days but it was a LOT of trial and error and failed dishes that, on the whole, still mostly tasted fine. Right now I’m experimenting with inventing my own cookie recipes – anything that flops gets blitzed and added to a jar to use as icecream topping or a cheesecake base. I suspect if you mucked up the mousse you could warm the set bowl of mousse a touch in a second, larger bowl of warm water, fold in some almond meal and a little sugar (1/3 cup or so of each) and bake like a flourless chocolate cake. It’s allllllll an experiment! Enjoy the ride!

    • Caroline says...

      Soft peaks = Smurf hat
      Stiff peaks = Troll hair
      :D

  34. Mouse says...

    Chocolate budino is also easy-ish and divine!

  35. Victoria Haynes says...

    The last time we went to Paris, the lady renting us her apartment agreed to babysit our then-infant so we could go on a date at Mars Cinq. For dessert they brought a giant bowl of mousse and small bowls for each person, and you just scooped out as much as you wanted into your bowl. So good. Can you imagine a communal mousse in NYC??

    • Ann says...

      Cafe Fiorello actually has one!

  36. nmr says...

    Do you beat the egg yolks before adding in the melted chocolate? Thanks!

    • Julie says...

      this is a great question, wondering the same thing.

    • Isabel says...

      Me too!

    • agnes says...

      well, as long as eggs and chocolate become one creamy sauce together… you don’t really have to beat the eggs.

    • Kylie says...

      Don’t “beat” them, just give them a quick whisk with a fork in a small bowl until the yolks come together. I always do this and my husband tells me I make the “best chocolate mousse in the world!” :)
      Also add a tablespoon or two of Kahlua to the slightly cooled melted chocolate egg yolk mixture. Your mousse will be even more delicious! (richer flavour – you can’t taste the alcohol). Plus we’re talking retro dessert here – so why not amp up the retro?! Stir it through before you add the other ingredients (don’t panic if the chocolate goes a little bit grainy when you do – this magically disappears when you add the cream and egg whites. Promise.)

    • Sofie says...

      Our family recipe calls for beaten eggyolks, to make everything even more airy :)

  37. Christy says...

    ummmm this looks incredible and DO-ABLE! I never would have imagined I could make chocolate mousse. Thank you, Jenny!

  38. Awads says...

    ooh! i was just looking for a dessert idea for saturday night (dinner of unfussy chicken chile from smitten kitchen). This looks like it will hit the spot. thank you!

  39. Rezia says...

    I just made a version of this with silken tofu, from Anna Jones’ A Modern Way to Cook. It was so easy. Silken tofu, melted chocolate, bit of maple syrup for sweetness, vanilla. Blend in a food processor.
    My husband could not tell that it was made from tofu at all! You can’t taste it.
    It’s much faster (blend then in the fridge for about 30 min) and a nice healthy option!

    • Jen says...

      Do you have a link to the Anna Jones version you could share? My son is allergic to dairy and eggs but I would love to make a version he could eat also.

    • Rezia says...

      Hey Jen, here you go. The recipe is for Earl Grey & Chocolate Pudding pots, but you could just skip the earl grey for your son. (I made mine with Chai and it was great)

      Serves 4
      1 Earl Grey Tea Bay
      10 oz silken tofu
      3.5 oz dark chocolate
      1/4 cup maple syrup
      1 teaspoon vanilla paste (I just used extract)
      optional dark chocolate for grating

      Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over tea bag to steep
      Put tofu inside a clean kitchen cloth and press out as much moisture as you can
      Put a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt chocolate and maple syrup
      Put drained tofu, tea (discard tea bag), vanilla into a food processor and blend til smooth. Add chocolate mixture and blend until silky.
      Place in fridge to firm up, serve with grated chocolate or flaky sea salt.

    • Rezia says...

      P.S. I just realized that it is more of a pudding than a mousse– so probably not as light, but regardless, delicious!

    • Abesha1 says...

      1/4 cup cocoa
      2 soft or overripe avocados
      6-8 dates, pitted
      1 cup something milky
      Honey to taste (2-3Tb)

      Whizz with blender, processor, immersion blender, etc. Refrigerate at least an hour. Drizzle individual servings with a little more honey.

      So good, and good for kids especially who need more calories.

  40. Julia says...

    Is it safe to eat raw eggs? I feel like I’ve been taught to worry about salmonella in uncooked eggs. Looks absolutely delicious though!

    • Katie says...

      You can pasteurize them before using, you just need a saucepan with water and a thermometer! It basically requires heating the eggs in water to a very specific temperature for a certain amount of time, and afterwards they behave exactly like raw eggs, but any salmonella has been killed. I don’t remember the specifics but it’s totally googleable.

    • Elle says...

      It is safe – although pregnant women should avoid it.

    • Gina says...

      I was wondering the same so thank you for asking! I’m pregnant now so it looks like I’ll need to wait a few months before enjoying this!

  41. Samantha says...

    Looking forward to trying this! I’m a fan of the Pioneer Woman’s Pots de Creme recipe, which you can make in a matter of minutes in the blender, but this mousse sounds lighter. I love that you can make it ahead and dress it up in fancy glasses or with crushed peppermints on top of the whipped cream during the holidays, half a pirouette cookie sticking out, a piece of mint, etc…

    • emma says...

      I’ve never bothered making mousse, because the PW recipe is bomb and SOOOO easy.

  42. Margaret Hermanek says...

    Looks delicious! I make the easy Pots de Creme recipe you shared several years ago any time I need a fancy (but easy! And portable!) dessert. Top with bourbon or espresso whipped cream and it’s always a hit

  43. Lindsay says...

    I’m a staffing and kitchen manager at a catering company, and recently had to make my first chocolate mousse for a VIP event. I used a recipe that called for about a cup and a half of sugar – only (quite by accident) I used salt instead.

    This recipe would have saved me. Ha!

  44. Jemma says...

    One very fond memory for me was finally getting a reservation at a fancy-pants restaurant and ordering the olive oil chocolate mousse. The server brought over all the ingredients and actually assembled and whipped it right there at our table. There was something truly special about watching her stream the olive oil into the chocolate, the furious whisking (along with a joke about the great work out) and the incredibly light, melt-in-your-mouth decadence of glistening chocolate that she finally served.

  45. Laura says...

    drooling RN.

  46. jen in pa says...

    what brands of chocolate do you like to use? this looks divine and will be on my agenda soon!

    • Perla says...

      I personally use callebaut or Michel cluizel .utterly delicious!

    • janee says...

      Organic Green and Blacks 70% is good nutty flavored chocolate instead of the typical fruit forward ones. It’s my favorite for baking.

  47. Chocolate mousse holds a dear place in my heart! Our whole family uses my great grandmother’s recipe from Germany, and we’ve now started using it at birthday celebrations as a gf alternative to cake — and nobody is complaining!

  48. Are you kidding me. I’m making this tonight.

  49. Alice says...

    Oh I LOVE chocolate mousse. The only recipe I’ve made is Julia Child’s, and it’s perfect and wonderful and I’ll never look back. It is a little bit fussy, but it’s not hard or stressful, and the payoff is just so huge. Mousse forever!

  50. Greta says...

    The best chocolate mousse I have ever had is the Schoggi Mousse at Hiltl in Zurich, Switzerland. My sister gave me one of their cookbooks a few years ago, and I learned their secret is not just Swiss chocolate but raw pasteurized egg made into meringue and folded into the whipped cream and chocolate. It is absolutely amazing!

    • janee says...

      Great Tip – thank you so much!