I was compensated by Nielsen-Massey Vanillas for my time in developing this recipe and post. All opinions are my own.
Some things go together so well that it’s difficult to even imagine one without the other. Bert & Ernie. Kim &
Kris Kanye. Bacon & Eggs. Wine & Cheese.
Chocolate & Vanilla is also one of these combinations, although we don’t think about it much. We tend to think of chocolate and vanilla as opposites, even though a hint of vanilla in a chocolate dish can actually make it taste even more “chocolate-y.” It can be difficult to even identify vanilla when it’s in a dish, partly because it can have such a range of flavor profiles depending on where it’s from and what form it is in.
Nielsen-Massey has a great chart that outlines some of the flavor differences between beans from Tahiti, Madagascar, and Mexico, and they offer suggestions for what type of vanilla to use depending on the dish you’re making. Did you know that Mexican or Madagascar vanilla pair best with chocolate, but Tahitian Vanilla is better suited for fruit dishes? It has naturally floral, fruity notes while Mexican vanilla is usually sweeter and spicier, and Madagascar vanilla tends to be creamy and velvety (and more versatile & mellow). That’s why my everyday vanilla is the Nielsen-Massey Organic Fairtrade Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract (also: Organic! Fairtrade! Yes!).
I personally love the combinations of chocolate & orange, orange & vanilla, and, of course, chocolate & vanilla. I couldn’t think of any reason why the three flavors wouldn’t be amazing together, so I was intrigued to see that Nielsen-Massey also carries Orange Blossom Water. I had to experiment with it, and fell in love. It’s a beautifully subtle orange flavor that perfectly accents both chocolate and vanilla without overwhelming the dish.
Now, on to the recipe! You can thank fancy French restaurants for making mousse seem more intimidating than it is. The dish is really as simple as taking three distinct components and gently mixing them together: melted chocolate, whipped cream, and whipped egg whites. (Note for purists: You can make chocolate mousse with a chocolate custard, but I don’t think the payoff is noticeable.) The chocolate and cream make the mousse rich and velvety, but the air that you incorporate into the whipped cream and egg whites makes the dish light and fluffy while also giving it some structure.
I originally made it like a traditional mousse with the cream and egg whites fully incorporated into the chocolate, but I lost some of the orange and vanilla flavors with that method. I love the marbleized look of not incorporating all of the whipped cream, which left lovely little pockets of vanilla and orange-flavored whipped cream and created textural contrast with the velvety chocolate. However, you’re welcome to incorporate the cream completely if you don’t like the marbleized look.
Just a few notes:
Since you’re using raw egg whites, I suggest using the highest quality eggs you can find – pasteurized, organic, free-range (or pastured).
A stand or hand mixer is very helpful for this recipe unless you have an extra whisk and a pair of helping hands. Or superhuman forearm strength. I can barely whip cream to soft peaks by myself with a whisk, so I can’t imagine trying to whip the cream AND the egg whites!
- 7 oz dark chocolate (plus extra for garnish)
- 3 egg whites
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, divided
- 1.5 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Organic Fair Trade Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1.5 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Orange Blossom Water
- orange zest, for garnish
- Gently melt the dark chocolate in a large bowl using your favorite method. Since I hate doing dishes, I prefer to use the microwave and use half power, stirring every 15 seconds. If you don’t have a microwave or don’t have the same aversion to doing dishes, you can use a double boiler. Set aside the chocolate to cool slightly.
- Add the heavy cream, 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, the vanilla extract and the orange blossom water to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Use a mixer to beat the whipped cream until it holds soft peaks. Set aside the bowl or transfer the whipped cream to another bowl if using a stand mixer.
- Rinse the beaters and mixing bowl clean. Dry with a clean towel. Add the egg whites and the remaining 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip until stiff peaks form.
- Add half of the egg whites and a scoop of whipped cream to the melted chocolate. Gently fold in until the egg and whipped cream is incorporated. Add the remaining egg whites and gently fold until incorporated.
- Set aside about ½ cup of whipped cream for garnishing, then add the remaining cream to the bowl with the chocolate. Fold gently until the mixture is marbleized and the whipped cream is still visible.
- Spoon into individual serving dishes. Garnish with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and orange zest. Serve within a few hours of making.
- You can make the recipe up to 2 days in advance and refrigerate. You want the mousse to warm up slightly before serving, so pull it out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before it’s time for dessert.