Hervé This' Chocolate Mousse

February 10, 2012

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: It took a brilliant, adventurous chemist to discover the simplest way to make chocolate mousse at home. Hervé This, the father of molecular gastronomy, discovered how to make a flawless, creamy chocolate mousse out of just chocolate and water.

This all happens fast as the mixture cools, so chances are you'll go too far on your first try. Don't worry — just return it to the pan, melt it, and start over (see step 3). Once you have the rhythm down, you can flavor it as you wish with liqueurs or coffee or spices, sweeten it to your liking, or just keep it dark and intense. In all of these scenarios, a little whipped cream up top is never a bad idea. Adapted from Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor (Columbia University Press, 2008)
Genius Recipes

Serves: 4


  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) water
  • 8 ounces chocolate (we used 70% bittersweet — choose a high quality chocolate you love)
  • ice cubes
  • whipped cream for topping (optional)
In This Recipe


  1. Simply pour water into a saucepan (which will be improved from the gastronomic point of view if it is flavored with orange juice, for example, or cassis puree). Then, over medium-low heat, whisk in the chocolate. The result is a homogenous sauce.
  2. Put the saucepan in a bowl partly filled with ice cubes (or pour into another bowl over the ice -- it will chill faster), then whisk the chocolate sauce, either manually with a whisk or with an electric mixer (if using an electric mixer, watch closely -- it will thicken faster). Whisking creates large air bubbles in the sauce, which steadily thickens. After a while strands of chocolate form inside the loops of the whisk. Pour or spoon immediately into ramekins, small bowls or jars and let set.
  3. Note: Three things can go wrong. Here's how to fix them. If your chocolate doesn't contain enough fat, melt the mixture again, add some chocolate, and then whisk it again. If the mousse is not light enough, melt the mixture again, add some water, and whisk it once more. If you whisk it too much, so that it becomes grainy, this means that the foam has turned into an emulsion. In that case simply melt the mixture and whisk it again, adding nothing.
  4. Serve immediately, or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream if desired.

More Great Recipes:
Milk/Cream|Chocolate|Serves a Crowd|Make Ahead|5 Ingredients or Fewer|Mother's Day|Passover|Spring|Valentine's Day|Winter|Rosh Hashanah|Christmas

Reviews (103) Questions (5)

103 Reviews

Austin B. February 13, 2019
So if I was gonna use OJ or coffee, what proportion to water would I use? Or would it just be a straight swap, 6 oz?
Kristen M. February 13, 2019
Hervé suggests merely "flavoring" the water, but Renee below says she's done a straight swap of both and liked it—depends on how strong you'd like it, but the chocolate can likely stand up to a lot.
Lisa W. October 25, 2018
Interesting, but looks very similar to a truffle in terms of richness and maybe even texture? I do like the quick ease of it, though. I will have to try.
I think the best chocolate mousse recipe is Lyndsay Shere-- Chez Panisse. Not a complicated recipe.
bodhi_lisa October 13, 2018
I had 2 4oz high quality 70% dark chocolate bars, added 3/4 cup water but the mixture was way too soupy. I added enough chocolate to try to match the video but ended up just eyeballing the liquid mousse until I thought I should stop. I also added 1/4 cup sugar. Use a lot if ice cubes and a balloon whisk and it worked so far. My mousse is now chillin in the fridge. Texture looks like the mousse and did not come out grainy but very very intense chocolate flavor. You need to cut it with sweet whipped cream. I would totally do this again. But I feel like it took the same time if I had decided to make a chocolate pudding. But you can't beat a 2 ingredients recipe. Especially when the outcome is chocolate mousse!!
Scott March 27, 2018
Is that 8 oz of chocolate by weight or volume?
Kristen M. February 13, 2019
Apologies for the very long delay—it's by weight.
Ester April 16, 2017
Can I sub the water fr goat milk?
Kristen M. February 13, 2019
Apologies for the very long delay—I haven't tried it, but since others have been using cow's milk, I think goat milk should work just fine.
Vivian February 15, 2017
Used a mix of milk and dark chocolate, and subbed 2% milk for water, and it came out great! Very rich. I would say it serves closer to 6 than 4, especially after dinner. The leftovers are yummy spread on toast.
Ester April 16, 2017
Do you think I can us goat milk instead?
Beth100 February 13, 2017
What happens to this at room temperature? Will it hold up, or does it melt to a liquid? Thank you!
Kristen M. February 13, 2019
Apologies for the very long delay—it depends somewhat on when you stop whisking, but it definitely holds a shape at room temperature.
Miranda M. January 24, 2017
Can I use non-dairy milk instead of water?
CatalunaLilith February 9, 2017
Probably not, the extra fat and additives are likely to interfere with the foam formation. You could try it with a smaller amount, though
Marisa October 25, 2016
Sill question but what format of chocolate should I use? Chocolate powder? Baking chocolate bars? Chips?
CatalunaLilith February 9, 2017
chocolate is by definition the mixture of cocoa solids and cocoa butter (not cocoa powder, which is dried out cocoa solids. I've never heard of chocolate powder but if it exists not that either). Baking chocolate, chocote bars, or chocolate chips should all work. Just be careful, much baking chocolate is 100% cocoa and very bitter, so it won't taste good to most people. Many chocolate bars and chips are less than 60% cocoa, so there won't be enought fat to make the foam. Many chocolates labeled "bittersweet" or "dark" are 60% cocoa or more
dchu July 5, 2016
Not entirely sold on this as is--it doesn't have as creamy a mouthfeel as mousse made with, well, cream--but mix a generous spoonful or two into a mug of hot milk and you get an INCREDIBLE hot chocolate. The whipped texture melts into a frothy, barista-worthy concoction.
cocolat September 5, 2016
The reason for this is because of the fat present in the cream traditionally used to make mousse. I personally think that this application lets the pure flavour of the chocolate to shine through! To each their own :)
Yas April 22, 2016
wich brand of chocolate did you use? thank you
cocolat September 5, 2016
You can use any brand as long as it has a high enough cocoa content, around 60% or higher. I've tried with a few and they've all turned out well!
JoanB March 2, 2016
Made this twice and love it, but when I put it in the refrigerator for 1hour+ it is hard and loses its mousse consistency. How long after making this can you leave it at room temperature ?
CatalunaLilith February 9, 2017
there's nothing perishable in it, so from a food safety perspective you have more than a full day. I'm not sure if it would fall and lose the mousse consistency at room temp.
Theresa O. January 25, 2016
I'm excited to try this & want to assign this to a couple for an upcoming cooking club dinner we're hosting (each couple makes a recipe no one has tried). To clarify, is the water hot before the melted chocolate is whisked in? It's implied but want to make sure our friends are successful.
Renée (. January 25, 2016
No. And the chocolate is not pre-melted. Pour the un-heated water (tap water, bottled water whatever) into the saucepan. Add the chocolate. Turn on the heat, and whisk together as the chocolate melts. Then, just continue with the recipe as written. It works!
Theresa O. January 25, 2016
thank you!
ariel A. January 24, 2016
Life changing.
lauriw September 19, 2015
That this works is magic. The trick is knowing when to stop whisking. I went from pudding to more mousse like in a flash. Next time I'll concentrate harder on the tip about strands of chocolate in the whisk, it was hard for me to see on this first pass.
Sara August 5, 2015
Question about the water: how long do I wait before whisking in the chocolate? How hot should the water be? Thanks.
cocolat September 5, 2016
The purpose of the first step is to melt the chocolate and water together. As long as your water is not piping hot, it will melt the chocolate without burning it :)
ATG117 June 6, 2015
Maxine B. April 27, 2015
Ingrid W. April 26, 2015
I had terrible difficulty getting the consistency correct (even after trying the fixes described in the recipe). After three failed attempts with high quality chocolate, I will be returning to more complicated recipes that produce a more consistent result. Was really hoping that this would be a wonderful, easy mousse!
Jane L. April 20, 2015
Could you make this with coffee instead of water?
Renée (. April 23, 2015
Jane, you can absolutely make this with coffee instead of water. Just make sure that it's room temp or colder (not hot!). I've made this with orange juice with excellent results, too.