Chocolate mousse is one of the most divine desserts ever created, but it will make you prematurely bold. If you’re already bold, now you know why. It has nothing to do with nutrition in a chocolate mousse recipe, but with its temperamental nature.
It takes a single mistake and the mousse will turn runny or grainy. You could be doing something wrong, or you’re not using the exact brand and the type of chocolate that the writer of the recipe used. So, what now?
I’ll show you a couple of ways to fix chocolate mousse, and a few ways to prevent it from happening. Also, hot to tell that it’s time to throw in the towel and what to do with this failed (probably expensive) experiment. If you’re in trouble right now, skip ahead for solutions.
What went wrong?
Let’s first try and understand what’s happening in a chocolate mousse. This way you’re less likely to find yourself in a similar situation.
The reason this dessert is even possible is because of cocoa butter. Cocoa butter sets solid and becomes the most important structural component of a chocolate mousse.
Some recipes call for other stabilizers like cornstarch or gelatine. All of them are great, but did you know that you can make chocolate mousse only with a chocolate bar and water? That’s because there is cocoa butter to stabilize the bubbles.
Speaking of the bubbles, they usually come from whipping cream. Fridge temperature is always better for whipping and easily getting to the stiff peak stage. All other ingredients (from sugar to vanilla and other flavorings), should be added before the whip so you don’t lose any air. The cream should be at least 30% fat to whip up well.
Most mousse recipes also contain egg whites, They bring even more bubbles to the party and help stabilize the mixture.
Simple enough? No. There’s so much that can go wrong. You’re using the wrong kind of chocolate, you’re using composite chocolate (no cocoa butter), the ratios are wrong, the eggs or the cream are not whipped properly, the flavorings are messing with the ratios, you’re using substitutes (vegan, dairy-free, etc), and so forth. This is just scratching the tip of an iceberg.
The fewer ingredients in a recipe, the more important it is to get everything right. It takes a single misstep and you’ll end up with chocolate soup.
So, before you make your next chocolate mousse, follow the recipe to a T and use the exact ingredients it calls for. And make sure you do a practice run or two if you plan to serve this for a special occasion.
How to fix runny chocolate mousse.
A lot of things could be at fault, but most likely there’s too much cream or you’re using a cream with not enough fat.
What to do?
Cornstarch could do the trick, but it will make the mousse look a bit dull and muddy. Something called liaison is a lot better.
No, we are not talking about human relationships here, but a thickener made from egg yolks and cream. Both of those ingredients are probably already in the recipe you’re using, so now it’s only a matter of adjusting ratios.
- First, prepare a bain marine. Fill a pot half full of water and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, you’ll also need a stainless steel bowl to place on top.
- Then, prepare the ingredients. Quickly measure out your runny mousse. For every 2 cups of the runny mouse, you’ll need 1 egg yolk and 3 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream.
- Time to work now. Mix the cream and yolks until fully combined (you don’t want to see even a tiny streak of yellow). Heat the mixture on top of the bain marine until it reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the mixture to the mousse and leave it to cool completely.
- Once it cools, whip it up with a whisk or a mixer. The texture will resemble whipped ganache but it won’t set in the same way.
You can also use this trick and add the liaison to the recipe directly before you fold in egg whites and whipped cream. You’ll get the best results if you catch the issue before you fold in the egg whites.
- Try adding more chocolate. More chocolate means more cocoa butter, and cocoa butter will act as a thickener. If you only add chocolate, you will also have to let it cool and whip it up again.
- Adding more whipped egg whites could fix that (as well as the texture of the product made with a liaison). Whip up as half the egg whites as the original recipe calls for. Fold about a third into the chocolate mixture and check for a change in texture.
If the texture is still runny, gently fold in more egg whites. How many depends on the problem you’re currently facing, but don’t be tempted to go over what you’ve prepared for this rescue mission. Too many eggs will make your mousse taste like a chocolate omelet. After all, the eggy aroma is stronger in egg whites.
How to prevent this from happening again?
Watch your ratios. And always make sure you’re using heavy whipping cream (legally in the US at least 36% fat) and that it’s fridge cold before you whip it up.
How to fix curdled chocolate mousse.
The mousse is actually not curdling in that exact sense as milk, but the texture is changing. That’s because chocolate seizes and turns grainy at a drop of a hat when it comes in touch with liquid. That looks like curds to you now because the chocolate is seizing in certain places more than the others.
It’s weird but the liquid is also the solution to our problem, more on that in the next segment. But first, let’s talk about what caused it in the first place.
There are 2 possible culprits: you or the dishes. Look around and see if there is a wet utensil or were using a wet bowl. If you see water on them they are at fault. If you’re the culprit, it’s because you went out of order with the recipe. You should always add ingredients with a high-fat content to chocolate first.
What to do?
Add booze. In fact, this may be part of the reason things went wrong.
You see, chocolate likes either no liquid or a lot of it. You never saw a cup of hot chocolate turn grainy, right? Consequently, if you were to cut almost all the amount of milk in a hot chocolate recipe, the results would be very different. Did you, by chance, put less alcohol in the mix than the recipe recommended? Maybe you thought you didn’t want it to be too boozy. That could be the root of all problems.
But even if you didn’t tinker with the recipe, break out a bottle of rum, bourbon, or liqueur. A coffee or a chocolate liqueur will blend in nicely and boost the flavor of chocolate. Once you master the technique, you can also try adding non-alcoholic drinks like strong black coffee.
Start by adding a shot and gently folding in. Pour the liquid over the back of a spoon or spatula so it distributes itself more evenly. Gently fold in so you don’t lose any bubbles. As with the previous case, this method will work even better if you have noticed the problem before adding egg whites.
There’s not much you can do when chocolate seizes. If the booze doesn’t help, not much of anything else will. You’ll have to figure out how to repurpose the mixture.
How to prevent this from happening again?
Add the ingredients in the correct order. Ones with high-fat content should always go first. Whatever the recipe says, it should always be whipped cream first, and whipped egg whites after.
Also, wipe the bowls and utensils completely dry. Make sure to keep the mixture away from the double boiler or any other thing that can splash some water into it.
How to thicken chocolate mousse
Let’s remind ourselves quickly of liaison and its wonderful thickening powers. As mentioned, you can use it with any chocolate mousse (or even souffle) recipe even before you fold in the egg whites and cream.
Here are other methods that you can try.
I mentioned above that it will make the mousse muddy, so use cornstarch only if you have nothing else available. Tapioca starch is a somewhat better choice since it gives a bit of a gloss to everything it thickens.
A slurry of 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1-2 tablespoons of water (or milk) should be enough to thicken most chocolate mousse recipes that serve 4-6 people.
Cornstarch slurry should go into melted chocolate before you fold in other whipped ingredients.
Gelatine is a great thickener for any occasion, including this one, and you don’t even need that much. Agar is a great alternative.
A standard recipe for 4-6 people should need only half of the envelope. Please est this method first, because the final amount will depend on the recipe you’re using.
Bloom the gelatine per the manufacturer’s instructions. Add it directly into chocolate before folding in cream and egg whites.
Marshmallows are sweetened whipped gelatine, so of course, they will work. You can even use them to replace egg whites in the recipe (by volume of whipped egg whites). But be careful, this will make the mousse very sweet.
Melt the marshmallows lightly so they resemble whipped egg whites. Fold into the chocolate mixture as per usual.
Since cocoa butter works as a glue and thickener, why not try adding it?
Melt about half to a full tablespoon of finely grated cocoa butter. Do it over gentle heat. If you can keep it between 105 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit, it would work best. Or add it directly to the chocolate and try not to get them above those temps. Then follow the rest of the recipe as usual.
The reason we’re watching the temperatures is that snap you get from properly tempered chocolate. That snap happens because of the cocoa butter. Tempering the chocolate has everything to do with “persuading” the fat to solidify in such a way so we get the snap. It’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t end up perfect, but temperature control will have a clear impact on the texture of the chocolate mousse.
Okay, here me out. Give it a chance.
Silken tofu is magic and is usually used as a substitute for heavy cream in vegan desserts. Don’t be afraid, it won’t taste of anything. In fact, it will even enhance the flavor of the chocolate. Tofu is a sponge for aromas and provides amazing silkiness without bringing any flavor to the party.
But it must be silken tofu, so read the label correctly. Use it to replace anything between half and all of the cream (by volume). Going half and half will give you a perfect balance of airiness and thickness.
One more thing. Since tofu absorbs aromas, make sure to cover the mousse properly while it’s setting in the fridge. Otherwise, the mousse may pick up some of that garlic chicken you have leftover from last night.
Kitchen tools you’ll need
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Using the right kitchen tools will really make cooking easier and save you time and energy in the long run. There are different tools that serve specific purposes, so here’s a list to help you get started:
- Premium Stainless-Steel Mixing Bowls with Airtight Lids
- Raw Cocoa Butter 100% Pure
- Puffed Mini Marshmallows
- Silken Extra Firm Tofu
- French Gelatin Sheets 9 sheets
- Mousse Mix, Chocolate
Maybe you can’t save the mousse.
If none of the methods above worked, that’s because the ratio is way off, and/or you’re using composite chocolate. That mousse will never set.
You don’t have to throw it out, though. It will become a lovely fudgesicle. All you have to do is pour the mixture into the molds and freeze.
If the catastrophe happened before you’ve added the egg whites, you can also pop in a healthy knob of butter and call it a chocolate sauce.