Julia Child’s Mousseline au Chocolat

Chocolate Mayo!!!

To be honest, I wanted to title this “Julia Child’s Mayonnaise au Chocolat“, but then I thought that I would actually like for people to read the post, so I thought better of it.

However, Mayonnaise au Chocolatis, in fact, one of the three names for this mousse – Fondant au Chocolat being the third, but where’s the shock value in fondant? No where, that’s where.

There’s a celebration underway leading up to the occasion of what would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday, in which a slew of chefs, restaurants, bookstores, food writers, and bloggers are celebrating.

Included in that celebration are weekly posts of recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking every week leading up to the big day, August 15.*

Last week’s recipe was a rolled omelette, which, truth be told, is one of my great culinary fears, for I have no skill in rolling omelettes. I’ve committed to trying it just the same, as the beauty of Julia Child’s recipe is the clarity in which she describes technique.

The chocolate mousse is no different, with basic, yet important, techniques laid out simply, but I think that my favorite part of the recipe is the subtitle to the three French titles: {Chocolate Mousse — a cold dessert}.

We take – or at least I take – chocolate mousse for granted, so much so that it’s easy to forget that in 1961, when Mastering the Art of French Cooking was released, it was necessary to clarify that this is a cold dessert.

There are many other desserts so described in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Herewith, I present a small smattering: “Creme Renversee au Caramel {Caramel Custard, Unmolded — warm or cold}“, “Diplomate Pouding de Cabinet {Custard with Glaceed Fruits, Unmolded — a warm or cold dessert}“, “Charlotte Malakoff aux Fraises {Almond Cream with Fresh Strawberries — a cold dessert}“.

I am so totally making the Charlotte Malakoff aux Fraises the minute our strawberries ripen in the garden – everything about the name and the description makes me want to eat it straight away. Charlotte is simply lovely, and a chilled dessert with ladyfingers, almond cream, and strawberries? Sounds like the embodiment of June to me.

But back to the mousse: we’re on a bit of an eat-what-you’ve-got kick here at our house, which at this point means a lot of asparagus from the garden (hallelujah), eggs from the hens, and pasta, rice, or some type of grain that has been languishing in the pantry for months.

Sweets haven’t been a big part of the equation, and we’re still a couple weeks away from harvesting those strawberries (and, therefore, from making the Charlotte), so imagine my glee when I realized that not only did I  have plenty of eggs with which to make the mousse - obviously, with 11 hens laying one egg per day, but also that I was in possession of a box of well-past the sell-by date semi-sweet chocolate (no matter, it tastes great in the mousse, even 6 months beyond its prime), caster sugar, and a bottle of Cointreau – encased in dust, for who really drinks Cointreau? That bottle was purchased at least 10 years ago, I’ve used it for truffles at the holidays, and probably a Cosmopolitan or two, and now it serves me well in Mayonnaise au Chocolat preparation. Thank you, dusty Cointreau.

Viola! Fancy French dessert with no (new) expense to me, and only a bit of upper arm pain, as I chose to whip the egg yolks and whites manually. The yolks aren’t such a big deal, but getting to stiff peaks with the whites was a challenge that my flabby upper arms did not enjoy, and they used this egg-white beating opportunity to remind me that weight training is probably a good idea – and not just because I’m eating fancy French desserts, either.

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, the dish comes together pretty quickly – particularly if you were to use a motorized beater – and with just 2 hours of chilling time, this is a lovely, elegant dessert that could easily be whipped up just before the dinner guests arrive, and served forth just a couple of hours later (alright, maybe 4 or 5 by the time you’re done with dinner and chatting) to oohs and ahhs, with whipped cream and berries even. In fact, this chocolate mousse may just replace my make-the-day-before tiramisu as a go-to dinner party dessert.

I’m going to do my best to replicate the way in which the recipe is presented in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, so the ingredients and method will be divvied up into separate processes. I’ve modified the recipe only slightly with two notes about the chocolate melting, both in parentheses.

Julia Child’s Mousseline au Chocolat {Chocolate Mousse -- a cold dessert}

Yield: For about 5 cups serving 6 to 8 people


    First step:
  • A 3-quart porcelain or stainless steel mixing bowl
  • A wire whip or electric beater (use the electric beater!)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup instant sugar (very finely granulated)
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur
  • A pan of not-quite-simmering water (note: you can use this same pan of water to melt the chocolate in the next phase of the recipe)
  • A basin of cold water
  • Second step:
  • 6 ounces or squares semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 4 tablespoons strong coffee
  • A small saucepan
  • 6 ounces or 1 1/2 sticks softened unsalted butter
  • Optional: 1/4 cup finely diced, glazed orange peel
  • Third step:
  • 4 egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar


    First step
  1. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until mixture is thick, pale yellow, and falls back upon itself forming a slowly dissolving ribbon. Beat in the orange liqueur. Then set mixing bowl over the not-quite-simmering water and continue beating for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is foamy and too hot for your finger. Then beat over cold water for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is cool and again forms the ribbon. It will have the consistency of mayonnaise.
  2. Second step
  3. (Note: Place the chocolate and coffee together in the saucepan, then) melt chocolate with coffee over hot water. Remove from heat and beat in the butter a bit at a time, to make a smooth cream. Beat the chocolate into the egg yolks and sugar, then beat in the optional orange peel.
  4. Third step
  5. Beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed. Stir one fourth of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the rest.
  6. Turn into serving dish, dessert cups, or petits pots. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Copyright © 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

*If you’d like to join in on the celebration, follow @JC100 or keep an eye on #JC100 on Twitter, or like JC100 on Facebook.

9 Comments to Julia Child’s Mousseline au Chocolat

  1. Lady Gouda says:

    Um, this looks SO good, and is such a great dinner party dessert idea. I can’t wait to try it out! I love that you are doing a “eat what we have” sweep right now– we are too, and I am enjoying it immensely. There’s nothing more satisfying than working with your pantry to produce solid meals – plus, I feel like that’s when I end up with my most creative meals. If only I had that garden of fresh spring vegetables and my own egg stash!

    • Amy says:

      Shelby, I totally agree! Necessity is the mother of invention, after all! If only you lived closer – you’d definitely have a stash of eggs, though I’m not sure JR would part so easily with the asparagus! Enjoy the rest of your eat-what-you-have sweep!

  2. Kimmy Bingham says:

    Oh I love this JC100 idea, I didn’t even realize it was going on and I’ve been meaning to make more of her recipes. Perfect excuse and this looks amazing. I miss you!

    • Amy says:

      KIMMY!!! I miss you, too! It’s funny about Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I tend to use it as reference and very seldom cook from it, so the JC100 celebration is a perfect reason to actually make the food! Perfect!

  3. Angry Asian says:

    sigh. this looks so lovely, especially in the little china cups. i’m already trying to figure out how i could make this dairy (butter) free.

    i’m not a fan of orange liqueur so i don’t have it on hand… what would be a good substitute? i have vodka & kahlua on hand…

    • Amy says:

      Hi Lan! I wish I was better versed in butter substitution – I’ll do a little research and see what I learn. In the meantime, I do at least know something about booze substitutions, and if that ancient bottle of Cointreau hadn’t been found, Kahlua was definitely next on the list! Now, just to figure the dairy part out!

  4. Sara says:

    I had no idea about JC100 but I’ve hopped over to like their facebook page and figure it all out. It’s been too long since I’ve spent good time with that book. Also, my mind is reeling at the thought of 11 eggs a day, wow. I’d love to make this but am wary of raw eggs with my little ones (even ones from happy hens). More for me I guess. I tried whipping egg whites by hand–in a ceramic bowl which I later learned is not helpful. Anyway, I still haven’t had the nerve to try it again. I’ve got to look at that Charlotte Malakoff recipe though.

    • Amy says:

      Oh nice! I’m glad that you headed over to their FB page! I totally understand about being wary about raw eggs with children. The yolks are *just* cooked, though I didn’t use a thermometer to check the end temp, and the whites aren’t (as you know!), so far better to be safe. If you really wanted to try it, you could halve the recipe and serve it just to adults. We still have 6 servings left, and we’ve had it 2 nights in a row (!) now, so it easily makes 8 servings in a full batch.

      You and I should probably form a club to discourage others from whipping egg whites by hand. My upper arm is STILL sore (okay, okay, I am out of shape, but really – two days later?).

      Please let me know what you think of the Charlotte Malakoff recipe and if you make it. I’m already looking forward to strawberry season so that I can make it! We may have to invite people over, though – it serves 8 to 10!

  5. Helene says:

    We used to have chicken at home when I was on the farm. So nice to have fresh eggs. For this recipe I did pasteurized the eggs before making the mousse. I can’t wait to try the Creme Renversee au Caramel from Julia. When you do the Charlotte I hope you will talk about it on your blog.

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