Chocolate Mousse with Cocoa Nibs

4 August 2013

Post image for Chocolate Mousse with Cocoa Nibs

With summer in full swing in Europe at the moment, a chilled dessert is the ideal way to end a nice meal. That or a big bowl of ice-cream. And one can hardly go past the quintessential French classic, a mousse au chocolat.

My husband’s grandmother is well-known for her chocolate mousse, a treat which she often served up when my husband was a wee little boy and well into his adulthood. Alas, given her advancing age, she retired from the kitchen some time ago but I was ever thankful when she shared her “secret” recipe with me and my sister-in-law. I was bemused, but not overly surprised, to discover that her secret ingredient was the humble bar of milk chocolate, something which gave the mousse a nursery sweetness and which made it just right for the palates of little (and big) babes.

For a more grown-up chocolate mousse, this indulgent recipe from Rachel Khoo is hard to go past. Most chocolate mousses are very airy and light, but this one is quite rich and decadent, in part because it is made from a chocolate crème pâtissière, the French equivalent of a thickened custard, which is then lightened with a meringue mixture and whipped cream. Rachel Khoo’s recipe takes a bit more time to prepare than your typical chocolate mousse recipe with a lot of steps and different components; it’s a fiddly recipe but not overly complicated, and you will be thankful once you taste the end result.

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For this recipe, you will need to find some cocoa nibs. These are essentially crushed pieces of roasted cocoa beans which taste a bit like roasted coffee beans, although they taste more of bitter chocolate than coffee. Cocoa nibs are an interesting way to add texture and flavour and I happen to think that they work really well here in a chocolate mousse, providing a bit of crunch and bitterness between the sweet creaminess of the mousse. I haven’t been able to find cocoa nibs in Zurich but, as I love a foodie hunt of any sort when I am travelling, I was happy to discover them at G. Detou in Paris, a small but bountiful store, well-stocked with an amazing array of baking goods and other delights.

{Cocoa nibs from G. Detou in Paris}

{Cocoa nibs from G. Detou in Paris}

If you can’t find cocoa nibs, Rachel Khoo suggests coating some finely chopped nuts with cocoa powder for a similar effect. An easier alternative would be some tiny dark chocolate chips – heavenly if you are a chocoholic.

And speaking of chocolate, a chocolate mousse will only be as good as the quality of the chocolate used to make it. Whenever I am making a dish where chocolate is the star ingredient, I always opt for best-quality chocolate and cocoa powder. For this recipe, I used Lindt Ecuador chocolate buttons with 70% cocoa content, and a very dark unsweetened cocoa powder by Comptoir du Cacao. If you are making this chocolate mousse to serve to children, I would suggest using a chocolate with at least 60% cocoa content; there is quite a bit of sugar in the recipe to sweeten the mousse and to dilute the bitterness of the dark chocolate.

Chocolate mousses make for a great dessert if you have people coming over for dinner, especially since they have to be made in advance (they keep in the fridge for 2-3 days), and there is something to be said for having a small bowl of pudding just to yourself. Just be sure to make extra in case your guests want seconds.

Chocolate Mousse with Cocoa Nibs
Recipe adapted from The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo

Serves 4-6

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Cook’s Notes

In Rachel Khoo’s recipe, ingredients are listed for what she calls a chocolate meringue, including 1 heaped tablespoon of cocoa powder. However, nowhere in the recipe are there instructions on when to add this cocoa powder. Also, in the episode of The Little Paris Kitchen where she makes this chocolate mousse, no cocoa powder is added to the meringue. Perhaps this is an error in the book? Has anyone else tried this recipe? I would love to hear your thoughts.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Nkem 4 August 2013 at 7:10 am

Thanks for the step-by-step guide! It makes it easier to attempt. And attempt I shall! I’ll give feedback when I do:-)

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eat, little bird 4 August 2013 at 6:12 pm

I hope you will enjoy this recipe!

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thelittleloaf 4 August 2013 at 10:45 am

Cocoa nibs on chocolate mousse are the best thing ever! Gorgeous recipe.

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eat, little bird 4 August 2013 at 6:14 pm

I agree! Now that I have a big bag of cocoa nibs to get through, I’m guessing that chocolate mousse might be on the menu a few more times in the coming months :-)

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Paula 4 August 2013 at 11:57 am

Mousse au chocolate!! I love it!!
I see you’re enjoying your husband family recipes!! You choose well your family… or your husband… or everything! :P

My favourite dessert when I was a child was mousse au chocolate, always end with it in every restaurant… if they had in menu!
Now I’m more of pies and cakes, but I prepare mousse often.

I tend to use a recipe with chocolate, sugar and eggs, sometimes use cocoa nibs (I love them!), but I want to prepare another type of mousse, like this Rachel recipe! I suppose it’s a fault of the book but, if using cocoa powder, I’d introduce it in the crème pattisière, I suppose…

Photos, great as always, I’d see them once and once again!

Finally, we visited Basel, Zurich, Stein am Rhein and Rhine falls at Neuhausen, we loved it!! And bought lot of stuff for the pantry :P

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eat, little bird 4 August 2013 at 6:19 pm

Hi Paula!

Yes, I’m lucky that my husband’s family will share some of their recipes with me, but I have to admit that I almost have to beg for them! They have always been a bit secretive about their recipes but, I think as they are getting older, they are realising that they need to share their recipes with the next generation.

I think Rachel Khoo must have experimented with this recipe and perhaps one version had a chocolate meringue where cocoa powder was added to the beaten egg whites. Her recipe has separate instructions for making the chocolate crème pâtissière which also contains 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder.

I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed your trip through Switzerland! Stein am Rhein is such a beautiful little town, as are Basel and Zurich. I’m curious about what you bought! :-)

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Paula 6 September 2013 at 11:31 am

Oh Thanh, I bought pasta (yeah, that’s not Italy, but you love pasta there, I see!!), some cheese, vegetables, chocolate, and, of course, lots of Ovomaltine things!!!! Love it!! And here, well, Ovomaltine doesn’t exist. Well, you can buy Ovomaltine chocolate bars at Decathlon, but thats my less favourite Ovomaltine food :P

I think I bought something more, but don’t remember alreay.

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eat, little bird 7 September 2013 at 3:28 pm

Oh you are an Ovomaltine fan! So am I! I regularly have a hot Ovomaltine each morning at breakfast or morning tea – I count it as part of my dairy intake ;-) I also love the Ovomaltine biscuits … they are addictive! I hope you bought some of those. If not, let me know and I will happily send some to you :-)

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Paula 18 September 2013 at 6:19 pm

Yeah, I am!! And my boyf is also, and he’s not easy to convince!!
I have the Ovomaltine powder to drink (fortunately, it lasts a long time), and we also bouth some muesli and the spread (wow, so addictive!), but didn’t see the cookies.
I have to go back soon, Thanh!!

Nor Ovomaltine ice saw I, is there? Well, I tried one of Mövenpick, of gruyère and meringue, you don’t know how much I sorry not being able to bring liters back home!!

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Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar 4 August 2013 at 6:11 pm

This looks like THE perfect chocolate mousse – it’s awesome you got the recipe for it! I totally agree. It’s perfect for summer!

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eat, little bird 4 August 2013 at 6:21 pm

Thank you! Rachel Khoo’s recipe is indeed really good. My grandmother-in-law’s recipe is a bit different in that it’s quicker to make, it’s lighter in texture and a little sweeter. There’s a place for both versions, I think :-)

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Jennifer @ Delicieux 5 August 2013 at 10:12 am

I’ve had this on my list of recipes to try ever since I saw it on Rachel Khoo’s show. It looks so decadent, and I love the crunch of the cocoa nibs. How sweet was the mousse with the 70% chocolate you used?

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eat, little bird 5 August 2013 at 9:39 pm

With the 70% chocolate which I used, as well as the extra dark unsweetened cocoa powder, the mousse had just the right balance of sweetness and hit of chocolate for me. Of course, my tastes have changed a bit over time; it wasn’t too long ago when my preference was for milk chocolate over dark! In recent years, I feel like I’ve suddenly discovered the point of dark chocolate, and I think living in Switzerland has had something to do with that ;-)

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Rushi 6 August 2013 at 5:47 pm

What a decadent treat! I never could resist Mousse au chocolat. When I’m stuck for dessert ideas I turn to Nigella’s instant chocolate mousse which uses marshmallows instead of egg whites or I use my mom’s recipe. I’m dying to try this one out, I mean you can never have too many chocolaty recipes can you? :D

Oh and I need to head to G. Detou, always wanted to but never found the time.

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eat, little bird 6 August 2013 at 6:04 pm

Hi Rushi!
I’ve always been curious to try Nigella’s instant chocolate mousse recipe but my husband doesn’t like marshmallows. How does it taste? And can you taste the marshmallows somehow?

And G. Detou is worth visiting if you need to stock up on some baking supplies, like good quality chocolate and the like. The store is smaller than I thought, but once you start looking through the shelves, you realise how much they have in such a small space.

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Rushi 8 August 2013 at 4:29 pm

Well the instant chocolate mousse is quite yummy, you don’t taste the marshmallows at all. Just make sure not to overbeat the cream :) I usually use dark chocolate because the milk ones make it wayyy too sweet. Plus it doesn’t take a long time to set. It’s a great dessert for people who can’t have uncooked eggs. Speaking of mousse have you tried her white chocolate one? It’s very rich and a little goes a looooooooooong way.

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eat, little bird 8 August 2013 at 9:08 pm

Thanks, Rushi! I’ll keep Nigella’s instant choc mousse in mind for my pregnant friends who can’t have raw egg. But I’m curious about how it tastes so I might try it soon!

Are you referring to the white chocolate mousse from Forever Summer? I tried that recipe a few times and, unfortunately, it didn’t really work for me. For some reason, I couldn’t get the mousse to set each time. Not sure what I did wrong but I followed the recipe closely and even watched the episode several times to double-check!

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Rushi 12 August 2013 at 1:53 pm

Are you talking about the white chocolate mousse with passionfruit, I didn’t have a lot of luck with it as well. It kept separating. I thought it was me until I compared with notes with fellow foodies and realized that they had similar problems.

This white chocolate one is a minty one, if I’m not mistaken it’s on express and it’s so dreamy. Try it out when you get a chance. I’ll be making your mousse this week, going over to a friend and this will be my offering :)

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eat, little bird 12 August 2013 at 4:48 pm

I’ve just looked up the recipe in Express and it looks so simple and delicious!! What’s more, I bought a little bottle of peppermint extract when I was in London last year and haven’t had a chance to use it … yet! I can’t wait to try this recipe :-) Thank you!

And yes, the other white chocolate mousse is with the passionfruit. Interesting that it also didn’t work out for you … Hope you and your friend will enjoy Rachel Khoo’s mousse :-)

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Liz Headon 7 August 2013 at 10:06 am

Oh, I love the “cooking shops” in that area of Paris. My nephew used to live just off Rue Montorgeuil and therefore tantalisingly (dangerously ?) close to Dehillerin…

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eat, little bird 7 August 2013 at 10:34 am

I also love visiting E. Dehillerin! Although, I’ve had to refrain from doing so in recent trips to Paris because my kitchen is just bursting with kitchenware. So now I stock up on perishables when I travel because, well, they will eventually be used up and won’t take up permanent space on the shelves :-)

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Abbie @ Needs Salt 7 August 2013 at 11:21 pm

OMG. this is looks so amazingly decadent. gorgeous.
I am addicted to cacao nibs. xD yes, I think addicted is the right word to describe my relationship with them.

Man, it’s going to be hard to not pin every single picture on this page. <333

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eat, little bird 8 August 2013 at 9:04 pm

Thank you! This was the first time I had tried cocoa nibs and I think I see the start of something also :-)

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Michaela 1 September 2013 at 10:25 pm

This chocolate mousse looks so amazingly yummy! I have tried so may different
recipes, but they always seem too sweet for my taste.. As you said, it really does make
a difference, what kind of chocolate you use. I will definetely try this one out as soon I will get the chance :)
I too live in switzerland, lucerne. I can’t remember ever seeing the Lindt Ecuador chocolate buttons
with 70% cocoa content to be sold near where I live, where did you buy these if I may ask?
Another question a have always been wanting to ask you ever since I started visitng your blog, was to ask you where you got your beautiful measuring cups and mixing bowls, they look so pretty I have never seen such a beautiful “set”
of cooking ware :)

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eat, little bird 5 September 2013 at 3:29 pm

The Lindt chocolate buttons are, unfortunately, not available for sale in the supermarkets. I am lucky to get my supply through my neighbour who works for Lindt. However, the chocolate shop at the Lindt factory in Kilchberg (Zurich) sometimes sell these chocolate buttons, but the type of chocolate (e.g. Ecuador, Trinidad, etc) varies. The chocolate shop is, nevertheless, always worth a visit for some goodies :-) The usual Lindt chocolate with 70% cocoa content which you can buy from the supermarkets would be equally good in this recipe.

And thank you for noticing my measuring cups and mixing bowls :-) I love kitchenware and being able to show them off in my photos makes me feel that they have a dual purpose! The measuring bowls and cups in the photos above are from the Sophie Conran collection.

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Not Only Sugar 3 September 2013 at 10:31 am

I love this chocolate mousse..

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