11/04/2011 02:47 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Make Chocolate Mousse

Making rich, velvety chocolate mousse at home doesn't have to be intimidating, says Todd Knaster of The Culinary Institute of America. He begins by adding 5 eggs and 9 ounces of sugar to a bowl set over simmering water and whisks until the mixture comes up to 145F. (You need to stir during this step or the eggs at the bottom may cook.) Once they reach a safe temperature, pour them into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat at high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they've tripled in volume. Turn down the speed and keep the mixer running while you melt the chocolate in a bowl set over simmering water. When it's melted, add 1.5 to 2 ounces of unsalted butter and stir to combine. Pour half of the egg mixture into the chocolate so the chocolate doesn't seize, then fold in the rest of the eggs. Last, you want to add 16 ounces of cream that's been whipped to a soft consistency. (If you like it, you can also add Frangelico liqueur at this point.) Be very gentle when folding in the whipped cream -- you want the air to stay in the mousse. Chef Knaster ladles the mousse into glasses and chills it for an hour, then this elegant dessert is ready to serve.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Knaster from the Culinary Institute of America, and today I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to make chocolate mousse.

We're making mousse today, which is basically any light, airy, creamy mixture. We're doing chocolate mousse. We've got eggs, sugar, bittersweet chocolate - but you can use your favorite kind of chocolate - a little bit of butter, and some heavy cream. We have five eggs and nine ounces of sugar, which I'm going to start to heat up. I'm going to do that over barely-simmering water, basically to heat up the eggs to about 145 degrees, to pasteurize them and make it safe to eat. You're stirring the whole time - otherwise the eggs will start to cook. It might take five to seven minutes to get the eggs heated up to 145 degrees. Right now they're really thick, but as they heat up you'll see they start to thin out.

Okay, the eggs are heated up to 145 degrees. We've got a good consistency here: you don't want to see them start to get thick at this point. We're going to put them into the Kitchen-aid. We'll whip this on high speed for about eight to ten minutes; they'll get to room temperature, triple in volume, and be nice and thick.

Now the bowl's nice and cool; I can see the beater marks in the egg mixture. I'm going to keep it on low speed while I start to melt my chocolate. No water can come into contact with chocolate, so you want to make sure my bowl's wiped out. Another precaution: you don't want to overheat the chocolate, so the water should be below a simmer. You don't want the water boiling, or you'll end up burning and scorching the chocolate, which will make it grainy and thick. I'm going to stir the whole time while it's melting. It's starting to melt. Keep stirring so it melts evenly. You shouldn't really heat chocolate past 120 degrees, but if you're keeping the water below a simmer, stirring constantly, you'll be fine.

I have all my chocolate melted, so I'll turn off the heat. I'll add one and a half to two ounces of unsalted butter, and once I get the butter incorporated you'll see it start to thicken up a little bit. I'm going to turn off my eggs.

I've just added half the eggs, and you want to make sure you get those incorporated quickly so the chocolate doesn't start to seize up. Now I can get the rest of the eggs. Here I'll start to fold it a little more delicately, so I can try to keep the air from the eggs, which will help make it nice and light and creamy. I'm turning the bowl in one direction, stirring through the center and over the top in the opposite direction, which helps incorporate it a little faster.

I have my cream whipped up, and as an optional ingredient I have some frangelico - some hazelnut liqueur, about an ounce and a half. If you don't want to use liqueur, you can omit it from the recipe. I'll add that before the cream - you always want to add the cream at the end, because you don't want to overmix the cream. I whipped my cream ahead of time; I had it in the refrigerator, kept it nice and cold. This is sixteen ounces of cream that I'll add into the chocolate. The consistency you want on the cream is a soft peak, because what will happen is during the folding it will firm up a little more, so you don't want to make it too stiff at this point. Same motion: through the center, over the top. You can see a few little streaks, which is okay; you don't want to overmix at this point. Now I have my mousse finished, so I'll just ladle it into my glass and just refrigerate it for about sixty minutes, to give it time to firm up. If you want you can leave a little room in there, to add some fresh berries or some whipped cream. FIll it up about halfway, and now refrigerate it for about an hour.

The mousse is set up nice and firm. I'm going to add a few chocolate shavings, or you can add a lot - depending on what you like. Again, you can add fresh berries, or some whipped cream would be really nice with that. And that's chocolate mousse!

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