To celebrate chocolate in its most delectable guises, we asked some of the best cooks—Julia Child, James Beard, Maida Heatter, and more—to share their favorite chocolate recipes. Craig Claiborne, who was the New York Times restaurant critic and one of the top food journalists at the time, shared his remarkable chocolate mousse, which could be reliably whipped up without tremendous effort. In his original headnote for the recipe, Claiborne says, “once in a rare while, I discover a formula for a dish that seems the ultimate, the definitive, the ne plus ultra. I am convinced that the finest chocolate mousse creation ever whipped up in my kitchen is the one printed here. As if you didn’t know, mousse means foam in French. This mousse is the foamiest.” The key to this recipe is to use the very best semisweet dark chocolate you can find—we like Valrhona. The better the chocolate, the better the mousse.
- 8 ounces semisweet dark chocolate, broken into 1/2-inch pieces
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 3 tablespoon water
- 1/4 cup sweet liqueur (such as Chartreuse, amaretto, mandarin, or Grand Marnier)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
- Whipped cream and grated chocolate, for garnish
- Step 1
Place chocolate in top of a double boiler over simmering water, and cook over low, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat, and set aside.
- Step 2
Place egg yolks and 3 tablespoons water in a heavy saucepan; cook over very low, whisking vigorously and constantly, until yolks begin to foam and thicken, about 6 minutes. Whisk in liqueur, and cook, whisking constantly, until sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. (The sauce should achieve the consistency of a hollandaise or sabayon.) Remove from heat. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids.
- Step 3
Fold melted chocolate into sauce. Transfer chocolate mixture to a large bowl, and set aside.
- Step 4
Beat cream with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes, beating in 2 tablespoons sugar toward the end. Fold into chocolate mixture.
- Step 5
Using electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks start to form, about 1 minute. Beat in remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and continue beating until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Fold into chocolate-cream mixture.
- Step 6
Spoon mousse into a bowl, and chill until ready to serve, 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Garnish servings with whipped cream and grated chocolate.