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Learn how to make Julia Child's chocolate mousse! Julia's version of this classic French dessert uses raw eggs instead of heavy cream, and brandy for a boozy orange flavor. It's decadent, airy, and easier to make than you might think!
For a decadent dairy-free chocolate dessert, try our vegan pots de creme.
It's really satisfying to master a skill like Julia Child's chocolate mousse. Her recipe is by far the best chocolate mousse we've tasted. It manages to be rich and decadent while also being light, airy, and silky smooth.
In our take on this classic French dessert, we swap the orange extract for a splash of brandy. You could also mix it up and use coffee liquor, creme de menthe, or whiskey, or just leave it out entirely.
It's not a complicated recipe, but it's a bit of a workout to make. The reward at the end is totally worth it though and if we can make it, you can make it, too!
It's a special dessert you can make again and again for all the chocolate lovers in your life.
Chocolate mousse ingredients
Here's everything you'll need to make this rich chocolate mousse recipe at home:
- Eggs – this classic French recipe uses raw eggs which gives the mousse a light texture, similar to meringue. Make sure to separate the egg whites and the yolks.
- Sugar – the original recipe calls for a whopping ¾ cup of sugar, which we found too sweet. Feel free to increase the amount of sugar to your taste. If you like less sweet desserts, ⅓ cup of sugar (as the recipe is written) will be perfect for you.
- Orange liquor – we use brandy but you can also use cointreau, triple sec, grand marnier, or curaçao. Use orange extract for alcohol-free.
- Semi-sweet chocolate – to make a killer chocolate mousse, you need high-quality chocolate. Some grocery stores may carry a selection, or check out your local chocolatier.
- Strong coffee – when paired with chocolate, they bring out the best in each other.
- Butter – to add richness and for added creamy texture.
- Salt – just a pinch to balance the sweetness, and stabilize the egg whites.
- Glazed orange peel – optional, for garnish.
How to make Julia Child's chocolate mousse
Making a classic French dessert like Julia Child's chocolate mousse might seem intimidating, but it's easier than you think. All you need is a few ingredients and a little elbow grease. Let's break down the steps:
- Start by beating the egg yolks and sugar together, followed by the orange liquor.
- Next, it needs some heat. Set the bowl over a pot of (almost) simmering water, and beat until it becomes foamy.
- Now beat it some more over a bowl of cold ice water until it's cool and the consistency resembles mayonnaise.
- In a separate bowl, melt the chocolate and coffee together, whisk in the butter, then add the chocolate to the egg yolks and beat again. Your arm might feel like it's going to fall off at this point.
- In another separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks are formed, sprinkle some sugar on top, and then gently fold it into the chocolate mixture.
- Pour into one large or several individual serving cups and refrigerate. When ready to serve, garnish with candied orange peel or some chopped chocolate. Enjoy!
Tips for making perfect chocolate mousse
- Because this recipe uses raw eggs instead of heavy cream, we recommend using the freshest eggs you can find.
- Better chocolate makes better chocolate mousse!
- Make sure when you beat the egg whites that your equipment (bowl and attachments) is completely grease free. If not, they might not rise properly.
- When adding the egg whites to the chocolate mixture, gently fold the mixtures together to keep as much airiness as possible.
Can I use a stand mixer instead of a whisk?
For the egg whites, you can definitely use a stand mixer or electric mixer. For the egg yolk mixture, you'll want to use a whisk because you'll be transferring the bowl from hot to cold.
Can I make it ahead of time?
Absolutely! It's a perfect make-ahead dessert that will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
How do I know when the egg yolks are the right texture?
This is where you'll need to use your eyes to watch the mixture closely. It's a fine line between being too runny and overcooked so as soon as it starts to thicken and resemble mayonnaise, remove the bowl from the heat and place it in the bowl of cold water.
What's the best type of chocolate to use for chocolate mousse?
We use semi-sweet chocolate because we find it gives just the right amount of sweetness and chocolate flavor. It's not as bitter as some dark chocolates, but not as sweet as regular chocolate. Look for a good quality baking bar at the grocery store or your local chocolatier.
What kind of coffee is best to use?
There's a lot of variety in coffee available out there but any strong brewed coffee will work. Just steer clear of instant coffees like Folgers.
Ideas for serving Julia Child's chocolate mousse
We like to serve this decadent chocolate mousse on special occasions like Valentine's Day or Mother's Day. It gives us a little something to look forward to during those wintry and early spring months. It's very rich so small portions are perfect.
- 4 large eggs (yolks and whites separated)
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar (see notes)
- ¼ cup orange liquor (optional)
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate
- 4 tablespoons strong coffee
- 1 cup butter (at room temperature)
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ cup finely diced glazed orange peel (optional)
- Beat egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until the mixture is thick, pale yellow, and falls back upon itself forming a slowly dissolving ribbon. Beat in orange liquor.4 large eggs, ⅓ cup granulated sugar, ¼ cup orange liquor
- Set the bowl over a pot of not-quite-simmering water and continue beating for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is foamy and too hot for your finger.
- Then beat it over a bowl of cold water for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is cool and again forms the ribbon. It will have the consistency of mayonnaise.
- Melt chocolate and coffee either over a pot of hot water or in your microwave. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter a bit at a time, to make a smooth cream. Beat the chocolate into the bowl with the egg yolks.1 cup semi-sweet chocolate, 4 tablespoons strong coffee, 1 cup butter, ¼ cup finely diced glazed orange peel
- Beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed. Stir one-fourth of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the rest.1 pinch salt, 1 tablespoon sugar
- Turn into serving dish, dessert cups or petite pots. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.
The original Julia Child's Chocolate Mousse Recipe, generously shared with us by Alfred A. Knopf.