Nothing is smoother than...Mousse

First of all, when making chocolate mousse, always use a high-quality chocolate. Store-bought chocolate chips are great for chocolate chip cookies, but they contain stabilizers that can create a slightly grainy mouth-feel. Instead, buy whole bars of chocolate and chop them yourself. Chopping the chocolate finely is essential because if the chocolate isn't chopped well enough, the hot cream won't be able to melt it. A long offset serrated knife works very well for this task. Once you pour the hot cream over the chocolate, let it sit for a moment to melt the chocolate before whisking.

The second part of making mousse involves folding in whipped cream, which should be whipped to soft peaks and kept chilled until ready to use. The key to folding in the whipped cream is to first add a small portion of the whipped cream to the mousse base to lighten it, which makes it easier to combine the heavier base with the lighter whipped cream. Next, gently fold in the remaining cream, but be careful not to over-fold as the mousse can become grainy or completely deflate.

Armed with this error-proof method for making mousse, it's time to get creative. There's no denying that plain chocolate mousse can seem boring and hackneyed; thankfully there are almost endless ways to make unique mousses to satisfy different palates and occasions. Dark Chocolate Mousse with Cocoa Nibs is a basic dark chocolate mousse made with a high-percentage chocolate and enhanced with cocoa nibs, which create interesting texture and a more complex cocoa flavor. Garnishes, like fresh fruit or flavored whipped cream are another way to add interest to mousse. An attractive slice of star fruit makes a beautiful and appropriate finish to the tropical-themed White Chocolate Coconut Mousse Parfait and our recipe for Chocolate Irish Coffee Mousse includes instructions for whipped cream spiked with Bailey's Irish Cream.

A final trick for turning ordinary chocolate mousse into an extraordinary dessert lies in presentation. Cakes and pies, like our Lemon White Chocolate Mousse Pie, are popular and convenient for parties, but individual desserts, served in beautiful or festive glasses or bowls, make for a more dramatic and special presentation. Milk Chocolate Caramel Mousse, for example, is simple but elegantly presented in a classic martini glass. Guests will enjoy the idea of having their own individual dessert and it eliminates the trouble and messiness of slicing and serving.