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My French chocolate mousse recipe is for a fluffy chocolate dessert called mousse au chocolat. Make this indulgent treat easily with only 5 ingredients – perfect for a Valentine’s Day dessert!
Although they may seem difficult to make, the truth is, many French recipes, including mousse, aren’t all that difficult to make.
The trick is knowing how to handle the ingredients properly. Don’t worry, my recipe tips and video will walk you through it step by step!
French chocolate mousse recipe
I’ve had many different versions of mousse in my time, and this one is so much better than the others I’ve tried! It’s not a custard, chocolate whipped cream, or a thin, runny pudding. Nope. This is beyond anything like that. It’s incredibly rich and decadent, but light as a cloud.
What is a mousse?
The French word mousse in English means “foam”. While many of us associate the word with a chocolate dessert, mousse is a culinary technique that involves whipping air into a mixture, creating bubbles or foam.
Next, a stabilizer like eggs is used to suspend the bubbles into the mixture. So, mousse recipes can be made sweet or savory. Salmon mousse is an example of a savory mousse.
To see the process of making mousse au chocolat from start to finish, and to get more tips for making a perfectly fluffy chocolate dessert, watch the video in the recipe card below!
Ingredients in mousse au chocolat
For the best flavor, use the best quality chocolate you can afford. In French restaurants, the dessert is usually made with either dark, or bittersweet chocolate but I prefer semi sweet; any of these are fine. Whichever kind you use, for the best results, I recommend grating or chopping bars of chocolate rather than using chips or chunks.
- Egg yolks
Some recipes call for whipped egg whites and sugar (aka, meringue) to stabilize the foam for a mousse. Others, including this one, use whipped cream and sugar instead of meringue. You can use whichever you prefer.
Either way, you’ll also be using whole egg yolks.
If you use heavy cream, save the egg whites to use for an egg white omelet or chocolate meringue cookies! Just store them in a covered container in the fridge and use them up within a couple of days.
The egg yolks will remain raw in this dessert. Consuming raw eggs does pose a potential risk of Salmonella bacteria poisoning. Keep this in mind when deciding whether this is a risk you are willing to take (not advisable for young children, pregnant women, or other groups at risk for food poisoning).
To eliminate any potential risk, use pasteurized eggs.
The addition of sugar is essential for making a French chocolate mousse recipe, which is why you don’t want to use a chocolate that’s too sweet.
- Heavy cream
Just like egg yolks, heavy cream lends to the rich flavor and creamy consistency. It’s very important that you use full fat heavy cream, also known as heavy whipping cream, or in the U.K., double cream.
Non-dairy milks and dairy milks and creams with less than 36 percent fat (like half and half) have too much water in them. Water in the chocolate can cause it to seize up (harden), and it also prevents the mousse from setting up properly.
- Grand Marnier OR orange extract
Because the dessert isn’t cooked or baked, the alcohol won’t be cooked out. If you abstain from alcohol, substitute orange extract for the Grand Marnier.
The main difference between pudding and mousse is that while mousse requires no cooking, traditional pudding is a cooked mixture of milk, sugar and cornstarch. The consistency of pudding is creamy and dense. Mousse is full of bubbles, so it’s light and fluffy.
Raw eggs are potentially dangerous, as about 1 in 20,000 eggs have a harmful bacteria called Salmonella. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using pasteurized eggs if you plan to consume them raw, as the pasteurization process eliminates any bacteria.
This French chocolate mousse recipe is made with raw eggs, so refrigerate the dessert, serve cold, and eat it within 1-2 days after making it.
Instructions and tips for making mousse au chocolat
In just a few easy steps, you’ll have a luxuriously fluffy French dessert ready to serve for Valentine’s Day or any other special occasion.
- Melt the chocolate.
The best way to melt chocolate in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Just chop up the chocolate into small pieces, then place it into the bowl. Be sure to stir the chocolate occasionally, so everything melts evenly.
- Combine the egg yolks and sugar.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar until you have a foamy, light, pale yellow mixture.
Be sure your eggs are at room temperature before you whip them. Cold eggs will not form as many bubbles as room temperature eggs, and you need the bubbles for a light and fluffy chocolate mousse.
- Slowly incorporate chocolate into the egg mixture.
The easiest way to combine these ingredients is with an electric mixer on a slow speed. The chocolate will still be warm, so you don’t want to add it too quickly or the eggs will cook. However, If you add it too slowly, the chocolate will begin to harden.
After all of the chocolate is fully incorporated, add the orange extract or Grand Marnier and blend it in.
- Whip the cream to stiff peaks and add it to the chocolate mixture.
Before adding the heavy cream to the chocolate, use a stand mixer with the whip attachment or a handheld mixer to beat it until it forms stiff peaks. It’s helpful to chill the beaters and bowl before whipping the cream.
Once it’s ready, use a silicone spatula to fold half of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Incorporate that completely before adding the other half of the whipped cream.
- Cover mousse with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
The chocolate mousse will be very loose at this point. It needs to be refrigerated to firm up. I recommend chilling it for 8 hours, but at a minimum, let it chill for 3 hours. Otherwise, the consistency will be more like pudding than mousse.
- Garnish and serve.
If you’re feeling fancy, use a piping bag fitted with a star tip to pipe the dessert into bowls. Serve chilled with your choice of toppings – whipped cream, strawberries, chocolate shavings, etc.
Troubleshooting French chocolate mousse
- The mousse separates or doesn’t set up properly.
There are 2 potential sources of the problem. The first is that the chocolate may have been slightly over-heated while it was melting. The other possibility is that your cream didn’t have enough fat content.
Non-dairy milks and dairy milks and creams with less than 36 percent fat (like half and half) have too much water in them.
- Consistency is dense rather than fluffy.
Remember that you need to incorporate air into the eggs to create the bubbly foam that makes for a light and fluffy chocolate mousse. If your dessert is dense, it’s likely that you didn’t beat the egg yolks long enough.
- The chocolate hardened instead of melting.
If water or small amounts of any other liquid come into contact with chocolate as it’s melting, it will seize up. This can also happen if the chocolate becomes too hot. This is why I recommend melting chocolate slowly over a pot of simmering water and not in the microwave.
If your chocolate seizes, don’t panic! Simply remove the chocolate from the heat and follow these instructions from Cook’s Illustrated.
If you take time to read the instructions carefully before you begin, and your ingredients are good quality, it’s very easy to make this French chocolate mousse recipe.
This recipe was one of the first ones published on Kevin is Cooking, on Aug 4, 2013. Back then, I published my family or personal favorite recipes, but there wasn’t much thought into writing the instructions well. So, this post has been updated with new content, photos and and video. Last updated Jan 6, 2022.
French Chocolate Mousse Recipe + Video
- Chop the chocolate and melt it in a metal bowl over hot water, stirring occasionally. (See Note 2)
- Beat the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is fluffy and light. Save egg whites for other use.
- Using an electric mixer on slow speed, beat the melted chocolate into the egg-sugar mixture a little at a time until just combined, working quickly so the chocolate does not harden. Beat the mixture on medium speed for 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to slow and blend in the orange extract. Set the mixture aside.
- Using a chilled bowl and beaters, whip the cream until it forms very stiff peaks, incorporating the vanilla as you beat. Using a whisk, fold half of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, blending completely to lighten it. Using a chopping motion with a spatula, fold in the remaining whipped cream.
- Refrigerate the mousse at least 8 hours or overnight (don’t skip this step or the mousse won’t have the proper consistency) and spoon or pipe into dessert bowls to serve. Feel free to top with shaved chocolate and serve with strawberries (optional).
- The mousse will keep refrigerated for 2 to 3 days. This batch yields 10 servings.
- In French restaurants, mousse au chocolat is typically made with either bittersweet or dark chocolate. Feel free to use semisweet if you prefer. For the best results, chop up bars of chocolate rather than using chocolate chips or chunks.
- Adapted from Piret Munger’s Chocolate Mousse recipe.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.