I Made Julia Child’s Chocolate Mousse Recipe and It Was Mind-Blowing

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Each bite of Julia Child's chocolate mousse is deeply chocolately, slightly citrusy and oh-so smooth and airy. Prepare for a lot of whisking—but other than that, it's simple and easy to make.

You may be thinking, “chocolate mousse? What’s the big deal?” Well, one taste of this deeply chocolatey, perfectly airy mousse, will tell you why Julia Child’s chocolate mousse recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking is one you’ll use for life. Aside from the technique of using both the egg whites and egg yolks, I love how she adds an ample amount of brewed coffee in addition to orange liqueur. Those two ingredients combined with quality chocolate and just enough sugar to balance the flavors is a true work of art.

I like to make this recipe with espresso, but you can also use very strongly brewed coffee. I also recommend using a quality orange liqueur such as Cointreau, Grand Marnier or even Gran Gala. Avoid using triple sec, which is better saved for cocktails than desserts.

How Is Julia Child’s Recipe Different Than Classic Chocolate Mousse?

Julia Child’s chocolate mousse recipe uses both egg yolks and egg whites, which wasn’t at all common back when she developed this recipe. Nowadays, both are used; however, most recipes you’ll find today feature whipped cream in addition to the yolks and whipped whites. Not Julia’s: This mousse recipe relies on the natural fat of the egg yolks and the lift of whipped whites for most of its body.

Along with the sugar, chocolate and eggs, the recipe also features the unusual addition of orange liqueur. Use whatever orange liqueur you prefer or have on hand—I like Grand Marnier or Cointreau.

How to Make Julia Child’s Chocolate Mousse

While you may have mastered how to make mousse from scratch before, there’s is nothing quite like mastering this heavenly Julia Child chocolate mousse.

Ingredients

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup instant sugar (super-fine sugar)
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1/4 cup strongly brewed coffee
  • 1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (6 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced sugared orange peel, optional
  • 4 egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Creme anglaise or sweetened whipped cream for serving

Directions

Step 1: Beat together egg yolks and sugar

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale yellow. The mixture should fall back on itself, forming a slowly dissolving ribbon. Then, beat in the orange liqueur.

Step 2: Heat and cool the mixture

Set a mixing bowl over water that’s not quite simmering and keep beating for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is foamy. As Julia notes in the recipe, it should be too hot to touch. Then, beat over cold water for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is cool and forms the ribbon. It should feel like mayo.

Step 3: Melt the chocolate

Melt chocolate with the coffee over hot water. Remove from heat and beat in the butter a bit at a time, until it’s smooth. Beat the chocolate into the egg yolks and sugar, then, if desired, beat in the orange peel.

Step 4: Combine egg mixture and chocolate mixture

Beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the rest.

Step 5: Chill and serve

Put the mousse into a serving dish or dessert cups. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Top with creme anglaise or whipped cream just before serving.

How to Serve Julia Child’s Chocolate Mousse

According to Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the chocolate mousse can be served in any form you prefer: in dessert cups, in bowls, in covered pots, or unmolded altogether. Julia also recommends serving the mousse with candied orange peel.

For an easier option, you can top it with a light sprinkling of freshly grated orange zest. Chocolate shavings or crushed chocolate-covered espresso beans would also be delicious toppings.

If you can’t get enough of this light dessert, we have so many more mousse recipes for you to try—plus more of Julia Child’s iconic dishes.

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Lauren Grant
The veggie- and cheese-obsessed lady behind the food blog Zestful Kitchen, Lauren Grant is a trained Culinary Scientist and Journalist. She is a blogger, writer, recipe developer, and self-taught photographer.