Why It Works
- The alkalinity of Dutch cocoa prevents the dairy from curdling.
- Condensing the milk and cream creates a thick, stable base without eggs.
- Cocoa powder, a starch, intensifies the overall flavor while adding stability to the base.
The creamy toffee notes of homemade condensed milk set this recipe apart from the custardy, yolk-rich profile of traditional chocolate mousse. The result is a dark, silky smooth chocolate custard that lightens to a mousse-like texture with the addition of freshly whipped cream. If you like, the chocolate base can be made up to a week in advance to help streamline dessert prep for special occasions.
- For the Base:
- 7 ounces plain or toasted sugar (1 cup; 195g)
- 2 ounces Dutch cocoa powder, such as Cacao Barry Extra Brute (about 2/3 cup, spooned; 55g)
- 1/4 teaspoon (1g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
- 32 ounces milk, any percentage will do (4 cups; 910g)
- 6 ounces heavy cream (3/4 cup; 170g)
- For the Mousse:
- 10 ounces heavy cream (about 1 1/4 cups; 285g)
For the Base: Combine sugar, Dutch cocoa, and salt in a 5-quart stainless steel or enameled Dutch oven. When the cocoa is distributed into the sugar, whisk in the milk and cream. If you have a scale, weigh the pot and ingredients together so you can digitally track the reduction. Place over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a heat resistant spatula, until the milk begins to simmer, about 12 minutes.
Continue simmering an additional 30 minutes, scraping continuously to prevent a milky buildup from forming around the sides, until the mixture is as thick and dark as chocolate pudding and reduced to about 2 1/3 cups or 24 ounces. If using a scale, the pot will weigh 23 ounces less than when you started. Transfer to a wide dish, such as a 7- by 11-inch casserole, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until thick and cold, about 1 hour.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip remaining cream to medium-stiff peaks. Meanwhile, stir the chilled cocoa-base until smooth. Fold in about half of the whipped cream, and, when well combined, gently fold in the rest. Immediately divide between individual dishes, using a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, if you prefer, then cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. If you like, garnish with shaved chocolate, Valrhona's Crunchy Pearls, fresh fruit, or dollops of unsweetened whipped cream.
Stainless steel Dutch oven, heat-resistant spatula
This recipe works well with any good quality Dutch cocoa powder, but for the deepest chocolate flavor and color I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute.