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We've all done it: You're trying to take on a decadent dessert recipe that calls for slowly tempering eggs in hot milk or cream, but you get too eager to see that custard form, only to have those pesky eggs scramble right before your eyes. Most of the time it means hitting the reset button and starting again from scratch. But while custard-making is certainly a baking skill that everyone should master for right situations, sometimes there's an easier road to deliciously rich results. Such is the case with Food & Wine Culinary Director Justin Chapple's Mad Genius milk chocolate mousse, which makes the whole process as simple as whipping up a ganache (quite literally).
The whole process starts with bringing heavy cream to a simmer and — spoiler alert! — that's about as complicated as the cooking portion of this recipe gets. Remove the pot from the burner and whisk in the milk chocolate chips or chopped chocolate until it's smooth, forming a thinned-out ganache (or, as Chapple points out, a drinkable but "very rich hot chocolate"). Then Chapple amps up the chocolate flavor with unsweetened dark cocoa powder, a bit of instant espresso powder, and pure vanilla extract (plus some salt for good measure, of course).
The next steps are as familiar as making whipped cream. Transfer the chocolate mixture into a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours until it's super cold and takes on a thin pudding-like texture. Then transfer the cold chocolate cream into the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Start the mixer on low, and increase the speed as the "cheater mousse" starts to thicken. (Chapple points out that this method eliminates another pitfall of mousse-making: The cold whipped cream solidifying the chocolate in the custard creating an unpleasant gritty texture.)
Once the mousse is fully whipped and fluffy, chill for later or serve immediately topped with some whipped cream and chocolate shavings. We said it was simple.
Watch even more of his Mad Genius Tips here.