Chocolate mousse needs no introduction to chocolate lovers! We are all familiar with its wonderful texture, full of tiny bubbles that deliver the most amazing chocolate experience!
In fact, it’s so good that bakers have found countless ways to make it so they never run out! If you’ve got leftover egg whites, you can make a meringue based mousse! If you have egg yolks, make it with pâte à bombe! And if you don’t have any eggs, keep it simple and just add whipped cream to the chocolate!
Today we will be learning how to make it with pâte à bombe.
Chocolate Mousse Components
There are three components in a chocolate mousse that is made with pâte à bombe:
- An egg foam: The pâte à bombe
- A base: Chocolate ganache
- Whipped cream
The egg foam is first added to the chocolate ganache. The whipped cream is then carefully folded into the mixture.
Let’s go through each component together.
What Is Pâte A Bombe?
A pâte à bombe is an egg foam consisting of egg yolks, sugar and water (or a sugar syrup). Whole eggs are sometimes used in combination with the egg yolks.
A pâte à bombe can be used to lighten desserts such as chocolate mousse, French buttercream, or frozen desserts.
How To Make Pâte A Bombe
There are two methods to make pâte à bombe:
- Combine all the ingredients from the start: All the ingredients are heated together over a double boiler-whilst whisking constantly- until the temperature reaches 82-84°C (180-183°F). The egg mixture is then taken off the heat and whipped at medium speed until it has lightened in color, at least doubled in volume and reached the ribbon stage.
- Cook the partially whipped eggs with a sugar syrup: Cook the sugar and water until a digital thermometer registers between 118-121°C (244-250°F). In the meantime, start whipping the eggs. Once the syrup has reached the desired temperature, pour it over the partially whipped eggs and keep whipping until you reach the ribbon stage. You might be familiar with this method if you made Italian meringue.
Ribbon stage: When you lift the beater, the egg foam will fall back into the bowl in a ribbon and won’t disappear immediately into the remaining egg foam.
I personally prefer the first method, where the eggs are cooked to a safe temperature. Valrhona (French video with English subtitles) also recommends opting for the first method, for a pâte à bombe that is more stable and doesn’t separate when saved for later.
Pâte A Bombe And Italian Meringue
Making a pâte à bombe is similar to making an Italian meringue (the second method mentioned above). A hot syrup is poured onto eggs that have been partially whipped. The mixture is then whipped at medium-high speed until it reaches the ribbon stage. The only difference is that egg whites are used in an Italian meringue while a pâte à bombe calls for egg yolks.
Chocolate Mousse Base: Chocolate Ganache
The type of chocolate used
The chocolate you use will affect the quality, texture and sweetness of your chocolate mousse.
- Percentage of cocoa: The cocoa content will determine how well the chocolate mousse sets and how intense the chocolate flavor is. A mousse made from dark chocolate (55-80% cocoa) for example will be more stable and firm than a mousse made from milk chocolate (10-45% cocoa). It will also have a stronger chocolate flavor. Mousse made entirely from milk (or white) chocolate will generally need gelatin to help it set properly.
- Sweetness: When picking the chocolate, you should keep in mind that the pâte à bombe is already quite sweet. I personally love using a combination of dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Don’t be tempted to pick any milk chocolate. It’s best to use couverture chocolate, which is high in cocoa solids and doesn’t contain too much sugar, which would make your mousse cloyingly sweet.
Melting the chocolate
The chocolate can be melted in a double boiler or in the microwave, in small increments (about 10-20 seconds).
In order to melt all the cocoa butter, the temperature of the melted chocolate should reach about 43°C/109°F (milk and white chocolate) to 49°C/120°F (dark chocolate)1.
Making a chocolate ganache
Adding melted chocolate directly to the other components of a chocolate mousse is feasible. But it can sometimes be hard to incorporate. You might end up with a grainy texture and low volume, as you over-stir the mousse, trying to combine everything together!
To overcome these issues, it’s best to make a chocolate ganache base with the melted chocolate. Use part of the heavy cream in a recipe to make a ganache, instead of simply whipping it all. The resulting creamy base will be much easier to combine with the other components of the chocolate mousse.
Combining the chocolate ganache and the pâte à bombe
The temperature of the melted chocolate is important when combining it with the pâte à bombe.
The chocolate should be at a temperature of about 40°C (104°F) to 45°C (113°F) when you add the pâte à bombe. If it’s too cold, it will become grainy when combined with the other components of the mousse. It’s best to reheat it slowly, if needed, until it’s at the right temperature. The pâte à bombe should ideally be at about the same temperature when added to the melted chocolate.
Whipped cream will add richness, lightness and airiness to a mousse. You should use cream with a fat content of 35%. How much whipped cream to add will depend on your preferences. The more you use, the lighter the texture of the mousse, and the milder the flavor of the base.
In case you missed it, head over to the sweetened whipped cream post to read all the tips for whipping cream.
The cream should be whipped to soft peaks (not stiff) so that you can easily fold it into the other components of the mousse.
When to add whipped cream to the chocolate mousse?
To avoid overmixing the whipped cream, which would lead to a grainy texture, it is usually added at the end, once you’ve folded the pâte à bombe into the chocolate ganache. Fold it in gently, being careful not to deflate it, and just until incorporated.
The temperature of the chocolate mousse will start to drop when you add the cold whipped cream. The mousse will start to set and should be poured immediately into desired cups.
Making Chocolate Mousse With Pâte A Bombe, Step-by-Step
Let’s quickly summarize the different steps so you have a general idea of what you are doing.
- Whip the cold heavy cream to a soft peak consistency. Cover and chill until needed. I like to do this first to get it out of the way. And I don’t need to run around once my pâte à bombe is ready.
- Prepare the chocolate ganache. Melt the chocolate in the microwave and heat the cream. Combine them until you get a smooth ganache. Set aside.
- Prepare the pâte à bombe. Heat the egg yolks, sugar and water together in a double-boiler. Then remove from the heat and whip until thickened and lightened in color.
- Check the temperature of the ganache. Reheat it, if necessary in the microwave until it’s at 40°C (104°F) to 45°C (113°F).
- Add the pâte à bombe to the ganache.
- Fold in the whipped cream.
Okay, now that you have a general idea, let’s do this step-by-step!
Whip the cream to soft peaks
- Start whipping on low speed and gradually increase the speed to medium-high. Stop mixing when the cream starts taking shape and soft peaks form (they fall back). Cover and refrigerate until needed. The heavy cream should be very cold. I usually weigh the cream in the mixing bowl and refrigerate it, along with the beaters, while I prepare all the ingredients for the mousse.
Prepare the chocolate ganache
- Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl (microwave safe). This will be the main bowl where everything will be added later on so it shouldn’t be too small. Heat in the microwave in 20-second increments, stirring in-between, until melted. If you don’t want to use the microwave, melt the chocolate over a double boiler.
- Heat the heavy cream until hot, but not boiling. I just pour the heavy cream into a microwave safe cup and heat it for about 20 seconds in the microwave. Heat it in short increments so it doesn’t overheat and splatter everywhere.
- Pour about a third of the hot cream on the melted chocolate and gently stir using a spatula. Start by making circles in the center of the bowl and move outwards.
- Add the remaining cream in 2 additions and stir until completely smooth. Set aside while you prepare the pâte à bombe.
- Optional: If you notice that your ganache isn’t very smooth, you can strain it through a fine mesh sieve into another bowl. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender (make sure your bowl can handle it).
Prepare the pâte à bombe
- Pour the water into a round-bottomed stainless steel bowl and carefully add the sugar. Try not to get any on the sides of the bowl. Using a round-bottomed bowl will make it easier to scrape the sides and bottom so that the egg yolk doesn’t coagulate. I use a stainless steel mixing bowl so that I don’t have to transfer the mixture later on.
- Briefly whisk together then add the egg yolks and whisk again until combined.
- Place over a pot of simmering water (without touching). The water shouldn’t be boiling or the eggs will curdle. Heat on medium-low, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture registers 82°C (180°F) on a digital thermometer. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl frequently, to prevent any egg yolk from overcooking. The quantity is quite small so it can be a bit tricky to check the temperature. It’s best to use a bowl with a narrow bottom so that the layer of pâte à bombe isn’t too shallow. Tilt the bowl slightly before inserting the thermometer, if needed.
Whip the pâte à bombe
- Remove from the heat and using a hand-mixer, immediately start whipping on medium speed. Transfer to a mixing bowl first, if needed. The pâte à bombe is ready when: 1) the mixture lightens in color, 2) thickens, 3) increases in volume and 4) reaches the ribbon stage. This will take about 5 minutes. Don’t keep mixing for too long past this point. If the pâte à bombe cools down too much, it will be harder to combine with the other components.
Why isn’t the pâte à bombe increasing in volume? 1) You heated the eggs too quickly or for too long. 2) You waited too long before whipping the pâte à bombe. The syrup (water and sugar), which stabilizes the air bubbles incorporated, will thicken as it cools down and won’t move around as freely in the mixture. As it becomes more dense, it will start to sink to the bottom of the mixing bowl while the air bubbles escape.
Combine the chocolate ganache and pâte à bombe
- Briefly stir the chocolate ganache with a spoon and check the temperature. The chocolate should be at a temperature of about 40°C (104°F) to 45°C (113°F). If necessary, reheat it in the microwave in 10-second increments, stirring in-between until it reaches the desired temperature.
- Fold the pâte à bombe into the chocolate ganache. You’ll hear the wonderful foamy, mousse sound. Don’t forget to mix in the chocolate which is at the bottom of the bowl!
Fold in the whipped cream
- Fold in the whipped cream, in 3 additions, just until incorporated, being careful not to deflate the chocolate mousse. You can briefly mix the whipped cream again if you feel like it deflated while chilling.
- Once fully combined and homogeneous, pour the chocolate mousse into desired cups. It will start to set quickly so don’t leave it in the mixing bowl for too long.
Now all you need to do is chill it for 12 hours and enjoy it! Truth be told, we usually have finished most of the mousse before then! If you are like us, try to wait at least 4 hours, so that it sets!
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1Suas, M. (2008). Advanced Bread and Pastry: A Professional Approach (1st ed.). Delmar Cengage Learning
2Gisslen, W. (2005). Professional Baking (4th ed.). Wiley
Gilles, C. (2009). La Cuisine Expliquée. Editions BPI.
Thanks for sharing
Question: in my usual recipe for similar amounts of choc and creme, I use around 4 eggs, here it’s only 2 for the pate a bombe
Did you ever try to put more pate a bombe in your recipe ?
I originally started with more pate a bombe and whipped cream in the recipe but found the mousse too foamy for my taste. I also thought the chocolate flavor wasn’t intense enough. I kept tweaking the amounts until I was perfectly happy with the result. But it’s a matter of taste. You might like the mousse a bit airier and softer so using more pate a bombe would be the way to go! 🙂