you are the chocolate to our mousse
Until tonight, I never quite grasped how important Julia Child was to American cooks. I have read her endearing memoir and flipped through her cookbooks, but until tonight, I had never cooked through a full recipe of hers (unless you count a basic vinaigrette). Last week, my husband gifted me a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It’s a classic and one that I believe every home cook should have. Although I’ll likely never prepare an aspic or de-bone a duck, there are so many recipes within these pages that will be part of my permanent collection. Her recipes are straight forward, impeccably on point and explained perfectly. There was not one confusing thing about this chocolate dessert, which for a maiden mousse voyage, proved to be very helpful.
Tomorrow would have been Julia’s 100th birthday. People from all over the globe are celebrating the contribution she made to the culinary world through her extraordinary life. She effortlessly empowered men and women to become better cooks, to be fearless in the kitchen and to love what they do. One of her most famous quotes, “Never apologize!” seems unfit coming from such an accomplished chef, but her accomplishments did not come immediately. In her memoir, My Life in France, she recounts a meal she made for a friend that was nearly inedible, but instead of apologizing and offering something else, she just powered through it and moved on, without a word. Her husband Paul, quipped in some letters to his brother that Julia was not a great cook at first, but she was determined and she improved every single day until eventually she commanded the kitchen. What an inspiration! We all begin that way don’t we? No one starts something they know little about with the skill of an expert, we learn as we experience and as we do.
Although Julia got her start later in life, she made a monumental impact. I can’t imagine what she would have accomplished had she started in her 20′s. Who knows where we would be now, having had that much time with Julia. Her life, her love and her relentless dedication to the kitchen has shaped us, and for that we are better people and supremely grateful.
Julia, you are the chocolate to our mousse, and we thank you for the light of your life. Happy birthday darling.
mousseline au chocolat (chocolate mousse)
adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking
- 4 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup bourbon (or orange liqueur)
- 6 ounces semi sweet chocolate
- 4 tablespoon strong coffee
- 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) softened butter
- 4 egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Place a small saucepan with about two inches of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.
- In a large bowl, prepare an ice bath, set aside.
- In a medium sized metal bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture is thick, pale yellow, and falls back on itself forming a slowly dissolving ribbon. Beat in the bourbon (or orange liqueur). Then, set the mixing bowl over the simmering water (be sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching water) and continue to beat the mixture for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is foamy and too hot for your finger. Then beat over the ice bath for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is cool and again forms a slowly dissolving ribbon. It will have the consistency of watery mayonnaise.
- Melt the chocolate with the coffee in a metal bowl over the simmering water. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter a little at a time to make a smooth cream. Beat the chocolate into the egg yolks and sugar.
- Whip the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form, then sprinkle on the sugar and continue to whip the mixture until stiff peaks form. Stir in one fourth of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the rest. Be sure to not mix in the remaining egg whites entirely, you should still see streaks and spots of white. The whites are what gives the mousse shape so you want them to retain some structure.
- Pour or spoon the mousse into a serving dish, dessert cups or little pots. Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.
- May be garnished with lightly whipped cream, but this is not necessary by any means.