Amanda & Merrill

Chocolate Mousse with Cointreau and Chocolate Shards

January 26, 2010

- Merrill

Last Thursday, Amanda and I enjoyed an atypically fabulous day of back-to-back meetings that included lunch at Pastis, a chic brasserie in downtown Manhattan. We both chose prudently for the first half of the meal (Amanda ordered a beet salad, and I had an herb omelet), but when it was time for dessert, the urge struck me with a vengeance: I wanted the deepest, darkest chocolate thing I could get my hands on. I don’t often order chocolate mousse, and I was a little afraid Pastis's version would be creamier and lighter than what I was craving. But just a few minutes after I ordered it, I was totally delighted when the waiter set down a small dish of what was perhaps the densest, most intense-looking chocolate mousse I’d ever seen. It looked like a scoop of bittersweet chocolate sorbet, only fluffier.

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The mousse reminded me of a recipe given to me by the pastry chef at Anthos, an excellent Greek restaurant here in New York, for a piece I wrote for the Times. It couldn’t be simpler to make, but the results are spectacular -- you use nothing but good quality dark chocolate, a little milk and some heavy cream, ending up with essentially a whipped ganache.

Back when I used to make chocolate mousse a lot for dinner parties and catering gigs, I often folded in a splash of Cointreau and some chocolate shards, which I thought gave it some extra oomph. Last week’s experience renewed my enthusiasm for this decadent dessert, so I decided to revisit the Anthos recipe, adding my signature twist. I hope you enjoy it!

Chocolate Mousse with Grand Marnier and Chocolate Shards

Adapted from Anthos

Serves 8

  • 10.5 oz. good quality semisweet chocolate (Valhrona, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream


1. Roughly chop 7.5 oz. of the chocolate and put it into a medium, heavy saucepan. Refrigerate the rest of the chocolate until you're ready to use it. Add the milk and salt to the saucepan and gently heat the mixture until the chocolate melts, whisking until smooth. Set aside to cool completely. 

2. Meanwhile, grate the cold chocolate so that you have coarse shards and return them to the fridge in a small bowl. Stir the Grand Marnier into the chocolate mixture, combining thoroughly. Whip the cream until it holds soft peaks, and then gently fold in the cooled chocolate and the chocolate shards, just until combined. Spoon the mousse into 8 individual cups or glasses and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until set. Serve with a sip of Cointreau or Grand Marnier on the side if you like.


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alliedoesstuff February 11, 2010
I made this for a dinner party last night and it was so good! Everyone raved. I usually make chocolate mouse from Julia Child's recipe, but this was so much lighter with a great firm, airy texture. It was a lot easier and less messy, too! The only change I made was that I coarsely chopped the reserved chocolate in my food processor rather than grating it.
JenRiebow February 2, 2010
Recipe clarification: I am assuming in item #2, you stir the Grand Marnier into the cooled chocolate mixture from line #1, and not the grated chocolate that I just returned to fridge. That makes the most sense, but just want to clarify.

I too, like CKM was, am having pregnant chocolate cravings nonstop. I was just dreaming of chocolate mousse last week and weighing option of daring to subject the baby to raw eggs. Now I don't have to!! YUM, YUM, YUM can't wait to try
JenRiebow February 8, 2010
I made this yesterday. YUM! It is so much easier than making with eggs, but just as rich and decedant. Halved the recipe and it worked great. Topped with freshly whipped cream, liked that to help cut the richness. Also couldn't get my chocolate to grate well, so ended up finely chopping. Liked the larger pieces.
Merrill S. February 8, 2010
So glad you liked it. And I'm sorry I never responded to your earlier comment -- somehow I missed it. And yes, the grating of the chocolate is the one potential annoyance of this recipe -- but I say bravo for chunks!
Skylor P. February 1, 2010
I have never been one for mousse, but I have to say this one is something I need to try. The idea of chocolate "shards" is too tempting! What do you think would happen to the mousse with a milk subsitute, such as almond milk? And what would be a good substitute for heavy whipping cream for those less-than-friendly-with-dairy folk?
Merrill S. February 1, 2010
Almond milk might be okay, but I don't think there's anything that will sub for the cream and give you the same results. Maybe someone else has thoughts?
MrsWheelbarrow February 1, 2010
silken tofu can often stand in for heavy cream.
WinnieAb February 1, 2010
or maybe coconut cream...
Merrill S. February 1, 2010
Would either of those whip well enough?
MrsWheelbarrow February 1, 2010
The tofu wouldn't whip - but if whipped, it has a good consistency that might make the mousse stand up, so to speak. I've used it for vegan puddings.
mrslarkin February 1, 2010
what about mixing gelatin or agar agar into well-drained coconut milk, then chill and whip?? (there's always coolwhip if you're desperate.)
CKM January 27, 2010
I wish I knew about this when I was pregnant and craving a decadent chocolate mousse, but anything that was worth it only had tempered yolks. Wonder how my newborn will react when I whip this up and indulge? I'll have to make sure it's well before bedtime!
Allison C. January 27, 2010
OH GOD! Merrill, I just dropped by for a casual check-in on the site and saw this mousse staring at me. Almost cruel, you are. This sounds really, really good. I love the combo of orange with chocolate, and the shards to add texture contrast to the smoothness of the mousse. I am going to have to make this. Definitely.
Merrill S. February 1, 2010
Occasionally, we all have to indulge our wicked side, no?
Jennifer A. January 26, 2010
I love the way this is presented in the photo - in scoops, instead of the dish it was set in.
Merrill S. January 26, 2010
Nothing gets by you! We made it one big container for easier transport and then scooped it into the dish for the photo. Either way works just as well.
shayma January 26, 2010
is there anything more decadent and delightful than the combination of orange and dark chocolate? a wonderful recipe, thanks, merrill.
Merrill S. January 26, 2010
So glad you like this combo. I know some people like chocolate on its own, with no additional flavors, but I find that orange often amplifies the flavor of chocolate.
Linda H. January 26, 2010
Recently been scavenging through recipe files (piles, actually) and cookbooks for recipe hubby and I used to make when we
were 'kids.' This fits the bill best, especially with GranMa now that we're 'grown up.'
Merrill S. January 26, 2010
What a lovely compliment!
Oui, C. January 26, 2010
I've always preferred my mousse dense and rich, not light and airy....if I want light and airy I'll make a soufflé. This sounds perfect....I might have to make some with the girls tonight. Thanks!
Merrill S. January 26, 2010
You're welcome! Let me know how it turns out if you make it.
Kelsey B. January 26, 2010
I love the combination of chocolate and orange - yummy!
TasteFood January 26, 2010
Lovely. A scoop of that, with a much needed martini a few of us are discussing, should take care of everything.
Sodium G. January 26, 2010
I have been having chocolate for breakfast for the past few weeks - a habit I keep swearing I will break. But so glad to know I'm not the only one who craves (and eats) chocolate at every hour of the day. This looks like a simple and decadent dessert. I cannot wait to try it.
Merrill S. January 26, 2010
Chocolate = breakfast of champions.
Cara E. January 27, 2010
I've been putting chocolate chips in my bowl of granola. I highly recommend it.
mariaraynal January 26, 2010
Am in the midst of a major chocolate craving and this would hit the spot perfectly!
Aliwaks January 26, 2010
So simple! And no eggs which makes it not scary for the high risk pop. ( am in the midst of serv safe certification class & immersed in food safety)... MrsL..I've also been on a bit of a creme fraiche binge.. like creme fraiche topped butter scotch pie, creme fraiche scramble eggs, cream fraiche on a toasted bagel w/ smoked salmon, creme fraiche mashed potatoes..thank goodness its gone and I can return to exhibiting a modicum of self least until I make this mousse
mrslarkin January 26, 2010
whew, i feel so much better now! thnx aliwaks.
Merrill S. January 26, 2010
Do you have a recipe for that butterscotch pie? Sounds right up my alley...
Aliwaks January 27, 2010
Merrill..bit embarrassed to say but it was totally a Sandra Lee type deal, found a package of butterscotch pudding in the back of pantry..had frozen pie dough, tarted it up with some salt, real vanilla, shot of actual scotch, a couple of egg yolks + tiny bit homemade off the cuff butterscotch whipped in to the creme fraiche, I will how ever put up recipe for another creme fraiche topped pie: Brown Sugar Buttermilk pie w/ Vanilla Creme Fraiche.
CatherineTornow January 26, 2010
'Extra oomph' is right! This looks delicious and chocolate shards sound appropriately dangerous.
MrsWheelbarrow January 26, 2010
I, too, wonder where the creme fraiche is? Looks amazing, decadent, and pantry friendly, too.
Merrill S. January 26, 2010
I managed to resist this time, ladies!
mrslarkin January 26, 2010
oh my goodness. that looks deadly. I'd better lighten that up with a dollop of homemade creme fraiche on top (which i'm eating out of the jar - how sick am I?)
WinnieAb January 26, 2010