Miriam requested my mother’s chocolate mousse for her birthday dinner. Jan has experimented with variations over the years, but Miriam wanted the original “plain” chocolate mousse. Jan chaffed at this restriction, until she thought of using Strauss milk.
We discovered Strauss milk products last Christmas, when it was rated as the best eggnog available (or not—we got one bottle before it disappeared from the shelves after the article came out). Strauss is old fashioned milk in old fashioned bottles with old fashioned flavor—we have forgotten what we have lost to industrialized food.
Strauss milk is not the homogenized and ultra-pasteurized milk that is sold in most stores. Since it has not been homogenized, their whole milk separates and the cream floats to the neck of the bottle, like grandma used to talk about. The traditional “flash” method of pasteurizing means that their milk does not have the extended shelf life of standard milk, but it retains the milk’s original flavor.
Note: There are some people who argue that even this is too much pasteurization. These people do not remember the thousands who have died from the terrible diseases that can grow in unpasteurized milk.
While this mousse is beyond good using any milk and cream, Jan decided that she would use Strauss whole, full fat, milk and whipping cream to make Claudia’s mousse. The Strauss website can tell you which stores carry these products in the Bay Area. To go with the best quality milk, Jan chose a high end dark chocolate from Chocolove.
For me this is the chocolate mousse by which all others are judged. I have paid $10 for desert at fancy French restaurant and gotten something that was not even close to the oral satisfaction of my mother’s mousse. That mousse was more like chocolate gelatin. When made correctly, although it has a fair amount of gelatin in it, there is nothing Jello-like about it. It comes out rich, smooth, and creamy.
Note: How much you fold the mix is a delicate operation. If you stir or fold the mix too much you will knock the air out of the egg whites and the whipped cream. You will be left with a dense unappealing mass. If you do not fold the mix enough the denser chocolate mixture will partially separate from the whip cream. Instead of a uniform creamy mousse, you will end up with a slightly dense pudding layer and a fluffy creamy layer. This separation is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are serving the mousse in individual bowls, you get two chocolaty experiences for the price of one, but it is not the true mousse.
After Dinner Note: This was unquestionably the best mousse Jan has made yet. I had not thought that this dessert could get any better than when my mother made it, but Jan has succeeded.
Claudia’s Chocolate Mousse 2.0
2 pkg. unflavored gelatin
1 cup sugar, separate uses
¼ tsp. salt
4 eggs, separated
2 cups Strauss whole cream top milk
12 oz. good quality dark chocolate (Chocolove)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pint Strauss whipping cream
Note: This recipe is for a double batch, because there is never enough.
1. Mix the gelatin, ½ cup sugar and the salt thoroughly in the top of a double boiler.
Tip: If you do not have a D.B., a metal mixing bowl that fits tightly over a pot of water works fine.
2. Beat together the egg yolks and milk and add them to the gelatin mixture.
3. Break the chocolate into bits and add them to the milk mixture. Cook over gently boiling water, stirring constantly until the chocolate is completely melted and well blended.
4. Remove the chocolate from the heat, stir in the vanilla and chill until the sauce has thickened.
5. In a clean dry bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff.
Tip: Be sure not to get any egg yolk or water in your egg whites or they will not form the meringue properly.
6. Beat the remaining sugar into the egg whites and then fold the meringue into the chocolate mixture.
Note: Folding is not the same as stirring. To fold you take a spatula and gently scoop the mix from the bottom, bring it up and lay it in the top. Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and repeat until the mix is well blended.
7. Whip the cream and fold it into the chocolate/meringue mixture.
8. At this point you may spoon the mousse into individual serving cups or into a display serving bowl.
Tip: We use a clear glass, floral, salad bowl.
9. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set the bowl in the refrigerator or a cool place.
Tip: Try to carry the bowl level as you can when you move it or you will get a coating of chocolate around the edge of the bowl. Do not disturb the mousse once it has started to set.
10. Chill until firm.
Tip: At least two hours in the refrigerator.