Elegant as a stand-alone dessert, but it can also fill a cake or tart.
Chocolate mousse! I used to thrill at ordering it in diners, where it would come served in a little aluminum foil cup, piped up high and covered in a chocolate shell. The absolute height of elegance, chocolate mousse!
But I never made a vegan version despite how they proliferate on the internet. Always with avocado or starch or the (to me) dreaded aquafaba, which doesn’t whip up in humidity—I just don’t know. It seemed like one of those things where people were pretending really works when it doesn’t.
It’s also interesting to look at what people consider chocolate mousse around the internet, vegan or not. Sometimes it looks to me like a plain-old pudding. Mousse, to me, is thick and stands on a spoon while being held upside-down. Pudding does not. I recently saw a craggy scoop of mousse on the Instagram story of the brilliant Sam Youkilis, in Italy, dotted with edible flowers and a drizzle of olive oil. This is the mousse of my adult dreams!
My version is scoopable and hefty. One could make it craggy. I make it with agar, as I do most creamy things, because agar is very stable in a hot, humid climate and it’s also generally a pretty accessible ingredient. I’ve taken this cue from Thai desserts that are agar-based. This also makes it pliable enough to work as a frosting, if you wanted, or a cake, tart, or pie filling. It’s a diverse little recipe! I always use as little agar as possible and you still want to be very thorough in whisking it and letting it boil for what feels like a long time, because it can come out grainy if not. That is its downfall. If doubling the recipe, I recommend going up only by the half-teaspoon with agar.
You also may notice I built this recipe on some standard sizes—a can of coconut milk, a 3-ounce bar of chocolate—because I want it to be easy. I like to serve it family-style in a 10-inch fluted ceramic pan, but you can also just put it in a bowl, a cake pan, a few ramekins, fancy glassware… Without further ado…