Just Two Little Words: Chocolate Mousse

The Musing: Chocolate Mousse. Two words that speak to just about everybody, across all ethnic groups, dietary proclivities, age groups and religious beliefs. No one complains about having to eat chocolate mousse. It’s practically a unifier. Serve chocolate mousse, and red and blue cross over to make purple.

 The Recipe: So I jump back in after months of not blogging (never had a good track record for blogging consistency, anyway) with these two little words. Why? Because they need no explanation. But also because blogger Miso for Breakfast recently asked about my recipe for the Chocolate Dream Mousse I published in the New Now and Zen Epicure 10 years ago, and I thought it was indeed a great subject. 
        I’ve been making chocolate mousse since I first encountered it as a child, fully expecting a moose-shaped chocolate (like an Easter bunny). Oddly, or maybe not much so, I have more memories of my experiments with chocolate mousse than any other food. There was the Christmas in college when I didn’t go home (3000 miles away), and a friend and I did our best to stave off loneliness by sharing Christmas dinner together. The only detail of our meal that I recall was the ultra-rich, butter-laden chocolate mousse I made using a recipe from Julia Child. For years, I  approached each dish of chocolate mousse with a bit of trepidation, recalling the time in Japan when I entertained friends for dinner, and served chocolate mousse for dessert. Drinking, laughing, and savoring the first few bites of my mousse, I suddenly bit into a piece of garlic — the strangest taste combination ever. My face flushed over and I lost track of the conversation as I spent the rest of the evening wondering if any of my guests had had the same unsavory experience but were too Japanese to say anything. I’ve since learned to clean up better between cooking savory dishes and dessert.
        Over the thirty or so years I’ve been experimenting with vegan chocolate mousse, I’ve come up with perhaps a dozen or more versions. The first ones inevitably were tofu-based, and were more or less glorified puddings. In fact, the Chocolate Dream Mousse contains tofu as well, although it is lightened up by a copious amount of cashew creme. It’s a great recipe, and since then, I’ve improved on it several times, but I really think I have the ultimate recipe now — which is why I call it the Ultimate Chocolate Mousse. My quest to further perfect it is over – everyone I serve it to dreads seeing the bottom of their dish (and not just vegans). I’m not going to pretend that it’s a healthy recipe, however – perhaps a bit better for you than one made with unsalted butter, but it’s still basically made with high-fat ingredients. Ever-so rich yet light and creamy, and  just airy enough, it’s so good that it has helped me overcome my fear of garlic-flavored chocolate. I’m going to share this recipe today, as well as the one from my cookbook 10 years ago. 

Ultimate Chocolate Mousse
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tsp. Vanilla
5 ounces dark chocolate
3/4 – 1 cup coconut milk solids from chilled coconut milk (refrigerate can of coconut milk for at least 24 hours, then drain water from can)
2 – 3 Tbs. powdered sugar (optional)
1 Tbs. Orange liqueur (optional)

Note: To make this dish, you must first refrigerate a can of full-fat coconut milk overnight. This will separate and solidify the coconut cream solids from the water. Measure only the solid coconut cream. For a darker chocolate mousse, use about 3/4 cup of coconut milk solids. For a lighter, milk-chocolate flavor, use 1 cup. 
       Puree cashews with water and maple syrup until absolutely creamy. Melt chocolate over a double boiler and add to the blender with the cashews and puree together. Allow this mixture to come to room temperature and thicken slightly. It should thicken as it cools slightly to become like a runny pudding. Do not allow it to harden.
       Meanwhile, in an electric mixer, whip the solid part of the chilled coconut milk until light and fluffy and resembles whipped cream. Add the vanilla and the optional powdered sugar and whip again. (For a truly bittersweet mousse, do not add the sugar). Add the chocolate mixture to the whipped coconut cream and fold gently but thoroughly. Mix in the optional orange liqueur. Pour into ramekins and chill for a couple of hours until firm. If desired, top with additional whipped coconut cream. Makes about 6 servings.  

And now here’s a slightly healthier, but still a rich concoction —

Chocolate Dream Mousse from The New Now and Zen Epicure

1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup water
1 1/4 cups nondairy semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted over a double boiler
24 ounces silken tofu
6 tablespoons Dutch cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 tablespoons maple syrup, agave or sugar

Puree the cashews and water in a blender until thick, smooth and creamy. Put the mixture in a medium size bowl and set it aside. Place the tofu in the blender, and add the melted chocolate, cocoa, vanilla and sweetener of choice. Puree until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as necessary. Pour the mixture into the cashew creme and fold it together with a whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour into ramekins or wine glasses. Makes 8 servings. 


  1. These both look ah-mazing! Bookmarking them and will link at the PPK.

  2. Thanks, Miyoko.. A few of us have been hanging on, hoping for an update from you for months (or some advice on the cheese book!), and then Celyn (above) linked to this on the PPK after I said that the Now and Zen Epicure mousse was the best I’ve tasted.

    Thanks for being awesome. I can’t wait to try the updated recipe.

  3. Mmmm. I plan to make and share!

    Also, just wanted to mention that I still have the original Now and Zen book, purchased new in 1991 and subsequently my bible for many years of Thanksgiving wonderfulness. Thank you for making my vegan world rock for two decades.

  4. Thanks, Matt, for checking in every now and then (or now and zen). I have already written several other posts, and will be posting them over the next few days – one is going up today. And Jeannie, thanks for your sweet comments!

  5. I did the same thing once with the garlic and chocolate. Everyone I asked claimed not to have noticed anything wrong with their dessert, but I did still wonder if some people were just being polite.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I also have the original Now and Zen book, wonderful recipes and I am looking forward to making the updated Choc Mousse recipe, yum.
    So glad to see you posting again Miyoko.

  7. So I am not alone in the world of garlic and chocolate!

  8. Hi,
    So many of the recipes (both deserts and main dishes) in the new now and zen epicure contain tofu. What can be used instead ?
    Thank you

  9. Hi,
    Is there anything that can be used instead of tofu in your recipes ?
    In the new now and zen eipicure, many of the recipes contain tofu as an ingredient.
    Are there some things which can be used instead of silken tofu and regular tofu ?
    Thank you

    • It depends on the type of recipe as to what you can use to replace the tofu. Yes, there are substitutes for certain things. It could be pureed cashew milk, or non-dairy yogurt, or such, but it really depends on the recipe. Let me know what you’re trying to replace.

  10. What would be suitable to replace the tofu when making a quiche ?

  11. I made the ultimate version of this mousse for Christmas, layered in a glass with macerated berries, and it was amazing.

  12. Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thank you for providing this information.