Easy authentic French recipe for dark chocolate mousse. Made with egg whites and without cream or butter, it's healthy too. The result is the lightest, fluffiest yet intense mousse au chocolat - and the most typical dessert in France, popular on many restaurant menus around Paris.
I LOVE this chocolate mousse! I have made other recipes and eaten many chocolate mousses in France but this recipe is the best! I also like that it is light. Thanks so much for sharing! - Kathleen
Traditional Recipe Ingredients
Trust the French to transform just four simple yet good quality ingredients into a most elegant dessert. This French 'mousse au chocolat' recipe essentially consists of 70% dark chocolate with whipped, organic egg whites making it extremely light.
It's a fluffy yet still intense French recipe for dark chocolate mousse - without cream or butter.
It's not unlike this egg white-based light-as-a-feather white chocolate mousse with orange blossom.
Is Mousse from France? Some History
According to my Larousse Gastronomique, a Mousse is from France. According to journalist Olivier Poels for Europe 1 channel, it was around during King Louis XVI time in the 18th century thanks to the royal Swiss cook, Charles Fazi. As I would recount in my Parisian chocolate tours, Queen Marie-Antoinette was also partial to her chocolate, procuring such a luxury at the time via the pharmacies to avoid paying taxes on medicines.
It wasn't until slightly later in 1820 that the term, "mousse" came on the scene by the royal chef, Viard. He wrote out the royal recipe for chocolate mousse and, from then on, was made in well-to-do households and gradually became popular.
Even artist, Toulouse-Lautrec created a French chocolate mousse not unlike this recipe below. He mixed together cacao with whipped egg whites, adding sugar and butter.
What Does Mousse Mean in French?
French 'Mousse' is literally translated as 'foam' and can be savoury as well as sweet.
It's created by whipping up many egg whites to achieve this and cream is normally not used - although many recipes add a touch of cream to lighten it up if you're not used to intense dark (bittersweet) chocolate.
Personally I prefer it like the French - without the cream. That way the chocolate shines through completely.
What Chocolate is Best for Dark Chocolate Mousse?
In this chocolate mousse recipe, I use 70% bittersweet (dark) couverture chocolate.
The better quality the chocolate, the better this mousse will be. One of my best-loved cooking chocolate is Nestlé's Corsé tablets with 64% cocoa or Lindt's intense dark cooking chocolate.
Even more intense in chocolate, then use Cacao Barry's 72% Venezuelan chocolate. It has complicated flavours of wine, black olives and a woodiness that comes from using two cacao beans, Criollo (the most rare) and Trinitario.
I'm not sponsored in mentioning them above, but just sharing what I normally use for this recipe.
What Can Go Wrong With Chocolate Mousse?
The recipe is easy, using a few best quality ingredients: good bittersweet (couverture) chocolate - I use 70% cacao; a spoonful of unsweetened cocoa powder, a little sugar, fresh & organic egg whites and only one egg yolk (which is optional).
However, what can possibly go wrong when making chocolate mousse?
It doesn't matter for the egg whites, but if the yolk is cold and added to the chocolate it will seize the chocolate up while added. If this does happen, then just add a spoon of boiling water to fix it.
So, here are my recipe tips:
- If egg whites are 2-3 days' old, they will whip and mousse up even easier than if fresh;
- Ensure your egg yolk is at room temperature.
- Moreover, to make it EVEN EASIER, add the egg yolk to the whites at the END of whipping.
Seizing of Chocolate Problem completely solved!
French Chocolate Mousse Recipe - Without Cream
What makes an authentic French chocolate mousse? As you can see from the recipe below, it is made without any cream.
The whipped egg whites make this light and fluffy to appreciate the good quality of the chocolate. So the result is an intense mousse for the most gourmet of chocolate lovers.
Melt (good quality) dark chocolate and unsweetened chocolate powder together over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie or water boiler), then fold in whipped egg whites with a little sugar and an egg yolk (as if as an afterthought).
Although slightly tweaked with more dark chocolate, less cocoa powder and the addition of salt, this is my favourite recipe originally inspired by chef Raymond Blanc. I also added the yolk in the egg whites rather than adding it to the chocolate.
Perfect Egg White Dessert Recipe
What you can do with egg whites for dessert? You're in luck! This recipe uses six fresh egg whites.
Only ONE egg yolk is used, although it's optional as I've discovered it's a recipe that works well also without it.
More egg white recipes
How Long do Egg Whites Last in the Fridge?
Egg whites can last for 5 days - even up to a week - in the fridge. I normally store them sealed in a clean jam jar. What's more, egg whites freeze well.
So if you're making any of the egg yolk recipes, keep the whites aside and freeze them until needed. I like to defrost them overnight.
French Dark Mousse au Chocolat - Low in Sugar
Little sugar is used in this healthy chocolate mousse. As I have learned from many French pastry chefs, too much sugar not only makes the mousse become grainy but it also interferes with the flavour of the intense, dark chocolate.
What's the point of having good quality ingredients if you mask it with too much sugar?
For another healthy mousse recipe, see my white chocolate mousse - it's made with cream but no added sugar.
How Long Does Chocolate Mousse Take to Set in the Fridge?
This light and fluffy French chocolate mousse only takes about 2 hours to set in the fridge. What's more, if you have any leftovers, it can keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Serving Ideas for French Chocolate Mousse
What can you serve with it?
In most French restaurants, chocolate mousse traditionally arrives with a simple dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder on top.
C'est tout (that's it)!
However, if you like the extra frills and garnishes, serve with
- Coconut macaroons;
- French tuiles, or edible flowers;
- If you love nuts, top with some toasted nuts or this delicious soft caramel nougatine.
- Fruits: I love to top it with fresh cherries in summer or in winter with pears, boozy cherries, clementines or candied chestnuts.
- Macarons (recipes in my books);
- Palets Bretons (French salted butter biscuits) using some of the remaining egg yolks.
More French Chocolate Desserts
Like this mousse? Then for an exotic version also made without cream, make this fluffy chocolate mousse with passion fruit, topped with soft, nutty caramel.
French Dark Chocolate Mousse (Mousse au chocolat)
- 170 g (6oz) 70% dark (bittersweet) cooking chocolate (a cup)
- 10 g (2 tsp) unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Van Houten)
- 170 g (6oz) organic egg whites (from 5 large fresh eggs)
- 30 g (1oz/ 2 tbsp) sugar
- 1 organic egg, separated (at room temperature)
- pinch salt fleur de sel (Maldon or Celtic sea salt)*
- Separate the extra egg, keeping the yolk aside for later (at room temperature). Add the egg white to the rest of the whites (to make to about 200g).
- Melt the chocolate and cocoa powder together in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (Bain-marie), taking care not to overcook the chocolate (don't have the water at a rolling boil, just simmering gently). As soon as the chocolate begins to melt, switch off the heat and stir until completely smooth, then take the bowl off the heat.
- In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites (using a stand mixer or electric beaters) with the sugar until soft and strong peaks form.
- When the whites are strong and hold well, continue to whisk in the egg yolk and add the fleur de sel.Gradually add the whipped egg whites to the chocolate using a strong yet flexible spatula, folding each carefully until well blended together. Repeat folding gently until the consistency is completely mixed together, light and airy.
- Either transfer the bowl to the fridge or pour/spoon into serving glasses and place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours until ready to serve.Serve chilled and top with fresh fruit, shaved chocolate or a sprig of mint.
This post was originally published on 8 October 2018 but now completely updated with a video.
More Chocolate - in Paris
Planning on a trip to Paris and need a fix of good chocolate? I have you covered (pun intended!). Check out your DIY self-guided tour around Montmartre, the best chocolate candy or sweet shops and some of the most wonderful chocolate shops and pâtisseries in Paris in French Food Guides.