Paris Confidential: Top-Secret Chocolate Mousse Revealed on NPR

When in doubt … mousse!

Not sure what the kids should get as a treat?  Mousse!

Looking for something to enjoy during Downton Abbey?  Mousse!

Stumped about dessert for Saturday night’s dinner?  Mousse!

Not sure what to give your Valentine?  Mousse!

It’s my favorite spur-of-the-moment dessert.  And it’s the favorite of millions of French home cooks too.

It’s a recipe that needs just chocolate, a few separated eggs and salt.  I add sugar to the whites, just because it makes them easier to whip to what the French call ‘firm snow’.

And it’s got a fabulous backstory, which I told on NPR’s All Things Considered as part of their Found Recipes project.

Click over to hear the story.  (The recipe is from Around My French Table.) 

Merci Mary Dodd for the beautiful photograph.


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Top Secret Mousse

Adapted from Around My French Table

Makes 4 servings

3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

Whipped cream or creme fraiche, for serving (optional)

Gently melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water or in a microwave oven on medium power.

If necessary, transfer the chocolate to a bowl that can hold all the ingredients. Using a whisk, stir the egg yolks into the chocolate one at a time.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until they start to form peaks. Beating all the while, gradually add the sugar. Continue to beat until the whites are shiny and hold medium-firm peaks.

Spoon about one-quarter of the whites over the melted chocolate and stir with the whisk until the mixture is almost smooth. (Stirring in a bit of the whites lightens the chocolate and makes the next step easier.) Spoon the rest of the whites over the chocolate and, using the whisk or a large rubber spatula, very carefully fold in the whites. Be as thorough as you can without overworking the mixture — it’s better to have a few white streaks than to beat the bubbles out of the mousse by overmixing (actually, I find the streaks appealing).

Spoon the mousse into a serving bowl or individual bowls or serve it now, or cover it and keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready for dessert.


Before the mousse sets, spoon it into individual cups — I love the way the mousse looks in martini glasses — or put it in a pretty serving bowl. I like to top it with lightly whipped heavy cream or creme fraiche. You don’t have to stop there — the mousse is delicious with fresh berries, chocolate shavings, crushed candied nuts, nut brittle or even pulverized Heath Bar bits.


Covered well, the mousse will keep overnight in the refrigerator, although it will get denser as it stands.

Bonne idee

To give the mousse a mocha flavor, add 1 tablespoon strong coffee to the bowl with the chocolate to be melted. Alternatively, you can add another flavor when you whisk in the egg yolks; such as 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract, 1/8 teaspoon pure peppermint extract or a drop or two of pure orange oil.

A word on the eggs

The eggs in this recipe are not cooked, so it’s important to use very fresh eggs, preferably organic and/or from a trusted local source.