Mousses are wonderful summertime desserts. They are light, require no (or minimal) cooking and can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to be served – and it is certainly hard to resist a cool dessert on a hot night. Chocolate mousse has to be one of the most popular mousses out there, and a rich, velvety chocolate mousse is the ideal dessert if you’re in the mood for something that isn’t heavy and won’t weigh you down after a meal, but is still ultra indulgent. Of course, in the face of how light chocolate mousse feels, we all know that they are generally chock full of melted chocolate and whipped cream, so the lightness of a mousse is definitely not in fat and calories.
Fortunately, there are ways to have a deliciously chocolaty mousse without all the unhealthy extras. This light chocolate mousse is just such a dessert and that makes it a much better option than a more traditional mousse for a summertime dessert in my book. Its light texture comes from meringue, rather than from whipped cream, and it is stabilized with gelatin. The gelatin is really easy to work with and this recipe is a great one to start with if your only previous gelatin experience is making boxed Jello (it goes without saying that the experienced gelatin handlers should not have a problem, either).
The mousse has a light, almost milk-chocolaty color, but is not too sweet and tastes more like cocoa than anything else. The flavor is not intense, but it comes through very well and would be an amazing backdrop for fresh summer berries. Once you’ve worked with the recipe, you might even want to play around by adding a few drops of mint or a splash of a favorite liqueur to the mixture before refrigerating it. I boosted the flavor in the finished dish by grating some dark chocolate over the top, using a zester to create a fine dusting. I also garnished mine with a few larger pieces of dark chocolate, although a sprig of mint or a few cookies would be a lovely accompaniment, as well.
Light Chocolate Mousse
1/2 cup water, boiling
2 tsp gelatin (powdered)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
Combine water and gelatin in a small bowl and whisk until gelatin has completely dissolved. Whisk in cocoa powder and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
Place the egg whites in a medium bowl and, using an electric mixer, beat until soft peaks form. Add sugar gradually, working with 1-2 tbsp at a time, while you beat the egg whites.
Once the egg white mixture has reached soft peaks, beat in the egg yolks one at a time at high speed. Slowly pour in the gelatin mixture and mix until uniform in color and well-combined. Evenly distribute the mousse into six 8-oz. ramekins or other serving cups (small coffee cups would make a nice presentation) and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours.
Using a zester, grate dark chocolate over the top of each mousse before serving. Garnish with larger shards of chocolate, if desired.