At approximately the same time that my cooking hero, Smitten Kitchen, was beset by a bout of francophilia, I—independently, I swear—had a similar one of my own. It resulted in a number of lovely things, but the most notable was, go figure, a Smitten recipe.
It is unclear to me where this chocolate mousse has been my whole life. It is, as she says, silky, decadent, and old-school; it is also appallingly easy to make. The only hard part is washing the mixer. The rest is cake. Er, mousse.
From Smitten Kitchen
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao), chopped
3/4 stick (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
3 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon Cognac or other brandy (or swap with a liqueur of your choice) [I used Cointreau]
1 cup very cold heavy or whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
Get out one large heatproof, two medium and one small mixing bowl and dust off your electric hand mixer. [Or use a stand mixer whose bowl you’ll wash frequently.]
Set the large bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and melt the chocolate and butter in it, gently stirring it until smooth. Remove from heat. Alternately, you can melt them in your microwave, stirring thoroughly at 30 seconds and every 15 seconds thereafter until the mixture is smooth.
In the small bowl, beat yolks with your electric mixer until thick enough to form a ribbon that takes a few seconds to dissolve—this will take about two to four minutes to achieve. Whisk yolks into chocolate mixture along with Cognac, then cool to warm.
In one of the medium bowls, beat the cream with cleaned beaters until it just holds stiff peaks.
In the other medium bowl, beat the egg whites and salt with cleaned beaters until they just hold soft peaks.
Fold the whipped cream and beaten whites into the chocolate mixture, gently but thoroughly. Transfer to 8 (4 ounce) ramekins or one large serving bowl, or go restaurant-style, serving it in stemmed glasses with white or dark chocolate shavings on top.
Do ahead: Mousse can be chilled, its surface covered with parchment paper, up to 2 days. Let stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving.