Friday, May 18, 2012

Triple Chocolate Mousse Tart

I'm calling this a tart, because I'm not sure what else to call it. It was my contribution to my family's Mother's Day dinner last weekend and everyone there called it amazing, but I don't think Triple Chocolate Mousse Amazing is very good name for a recipe.

This dessert started out as an attempt to recreate a wonderful dessert we had at the Gran Bier Cafe in Madrid. The original plan was to make 2 small ramekins, just for Jake and I to have this weekend, but when I realized just how far the leftover shortbread dough (from TWD's hungarian shortbread) would go I figured I'd make a large one to take to my aunt's house as well. If you can't use your family as Guinea pigs to test out a new recipe, who can you use? Just kidding. That's what the individual ramekin servings were for, although I ended up eating most of those myself. That should tell you just how good this recipe was.

Now, usually when I make chocolate mousse, it's a rather involved process that originally came from Julia Child, but Anita Chu at Dessert First did a series of posts recently on chocolate mousse methodology and I've been wanting to try out one of the versions that didn't involve raw eggs.

Let me tell you, this was oh, so easy in comparison to Julia's method. Once I typed that statement, I wanted to clarify that the flavor of Julia Child's mousse was by far the best as a stand-alone mousse, and then I started wondering what would happen if I incorporated more of the ingredients from Julia's version into Anita's process. I had to go home and try it out.

The result is more dense than Julia's process, but not much is lost in the flavor profile. The addition of orange juice, espresso, sugar and a pinch of salt created a rich, complex dessert with a thick texture that was all around a joy to eat. Plus it took half the dishes and less than half the time. The original is still a little better, but when I don't feel like spending 45 minutes making a mousse or can't eat raw eggs, this is a definite option.

But back to the tart. You might notice that in the original dessert, the white chocolate mousse is on the bottom and the dark chocolate mousse is on the top, whereas mine is reversed. Funny story about that. I intended to do it just like the original. I knew I had white chocolate in the pantry so I didn't pick up any more at the store, and then when I went to start the mousse, I couldn't find it. I assumed I was just wrong and had eaten it all used it for a very important cooking project so I adjusted my plan to just do a 2-layer tart. No biggie. I can roll with the punches. And then after I'd spread the milk chocolate layer, I found it. It had fallen off the shelf and was hiding behind the powdered sugar. (The powdered sugar that I was pulling out to dust the top of another bit of Hungarian Shortbread. Seriously, that dough went a loooooooong way.)

I tasted the tart both with and without the white chocolate layer and while it's fine without it, the flavor has a much better balance with it (read: the bittersweet layer doesn't overpower the milk chocolate layer).

Let me just say that I realize there are a heck of a lot of steps to this recipe. Quite possibly the most steps I've ever written in a recipe, but 3-4 steps are done 3 times (once for each layer) so it's really not difficult, just wordy. The other cool thing about this recipe? I did the entire thing using the microwave instead of a double-boiler and saucepan on the stove top. Normally I feel like this is somehow cheating, but it worked out rather well so maybe I'll "cheat" more often.

Triple Chocolate Mousse Tart

Makes one 9" tart

  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate (73%-ish)
  • 4 oz milk chocolate (40%-ish)
  • 2 oz white chocolate
  • 3 c heavy whipping cream, divided (2 c-1/2 c-1/2 c)
  • Shortbread dough for crust (any leftovers from another recipe, your favorite recipe or the recipe for the Hungarian Shortbread dough in Dorie Greenspan's Baking with Julia will all work fine)


  1. Cut a 9" circle of parchment paper and line the bottom of a 9" springform pan. Cut a strip of parchment paper 2 1/2-3" wide and line the inside of the pan (lining the side isn't absolutely necessary but it will make for a prettier presentation).
  2. Press dough into the bottom of the pan but not up the sides. You're going for about 1/16" here. Bake for 15-20 minutes, just until it starts to brown, then set aside to cool.
  3. Once the springform pan is cool to the touch, whip 2 c heavy cream to soft peak stage, cover and set aside in refrigerator.
    Note: you can separate the cream into 1 c cream for the bittersweet chocolate and 1/2 c each for the white and milk chocolate and whip them separately or you can whip it all together and eyeball it. Either way is perfectly fine.
  4. Heat the bittersweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating period, until the chocolate melts. It should take 1-2 minutes for the chocolate to melt completely.
  5. In another microwave-safe bowl, heat 1/2 c cream for 25 seconds and add to the bittersweet chocolate in 2-3 parts, stirring well to incorporate. You should have a very shiny ganache at this point.
  6. Add 40% (2/5) of the total whipped cream to the bittersweet ganache in 3 stages, folding in well after each addition.
  7. Pour the bittersweet mousse into the springform pan and smooth as best you can. An offset spatula is great for this but not a necessity. Once the bittersweet mousse is fairly even, stick the pan in the freezer (sticking it in the fridge is fine, but the freezer helps the first layer solidify a bit more before adding the second).
  8. Heat the milk chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl for 20 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating period, until the chocolate melts. It should take 1-1/2 minutes for the chocolate to melt completely.
  9. In another microwave-safe bowl, heat 1/4 c cream for 25 seconds and add to the milk chocolate in 2-3 parts, stirring well to incorporate.
  10. Fold in another 40% (2/5) of the total whipped cream (2/3 of the remaining whipped cream) to the milk chocolate ganache in 3 stages, folding in well after each addition.
  11. Pour the milk chocolate mousse into the springform pan on top of the bittersweet layer and smooth as best you can. Again, an offset spatula is great for this but not a necessity. Return the springform pan to the freezer.
  12. Heat white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl for 20 seconds at a time at 50% power, stirring after each heating period, until the chocolate is melted. It should only take a minute or so for the chocolate to melt completely.
  13. Fold the remaining whipped cream (roughly 20% or 1/5 of the original amount) into the white chocolate in 3 stages, folding in well after each addition.
    Note: This is not an error. Do not add any cream to the melted white chocolate before folding in the whipped cream.
  14. Spread the white chocolate mousse over the milk chocolate layer. This will be the thinnest layer but it should cover the milk chocolate layer completely so none is visible. Put the springform pan in the fridge to chill for at least 6 hours before serving. The tart will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.

I only took a few photos since it's the same steps repeated over and over. Apparently the bittersweet mousse all by itself tastes exactly like Central Market's chocolate truffles. So says my husband. Duly noted.

Things I learned from this project:
  1. The easiest way to whip up a small amount of heavy cream is in a glass measuring cup with a hand mixer using only a single wire wisk (instead of both). It's fast and it doesn't splatter everywhere.
  2. The chocolate chantilly method is much easier than a custard-base method for chocolate mousse but can still produce mousse almost as flavorful with the same ingredients.


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