Love and Olive Oil - Eat to Live. Cook to Love.

Chocolate Mousse Brownies

Chocolate Mousse Brownies from @loveandoliveoil

I can never settle for just a plain brownie. Instead, my mind is always thinking of what I can swirl, drizzle, frost, or fill them with next.

No matter how fancy I might get, however, the base is equally as important as any toppings or add-ins. You can’t mask a bad brownie with frosting. While I used to be a die-hard proponent of chocolate-based brownies, I’ve been experimenting more and more with cocoa brownies. Probably because they are way easier (no double boiler nonsense or chopping chocolate). I’ve had mediocre results before, but these hold their own against my previous favorite. The secret, I think, is lots of butter (just say no to vegetable oil) and way more cocoa powder than you think is reasonable. Seriously, don’t skimp. I buy big 2-pound bags of the stuff just so I’m never short.

Chocolate Mousse Brownies from @loveandoliveoil

The chocolate mousse topping is lighter and less sweet than a buttercream; the rich chocolate flavor further deepened by the espresso powder (yet the coffee flavor is not as apparent as you might think it would be. If it were, I’d have called these mocha mousse brownies). The gelatin in the mousse makes it firmer than a mousse you might serve in a cup – which is necessary if you have any hope of getting clean cuts when you slice your brownies.

Chocolate Mousse Brownies from @loveandoliveoil

Have I mentioned I hate cutting brownies? It is not easy to get clean cuts, especially with layered brownies. While I know that roughly cut brownies don’t taste any less delicious, I love seeing the layers in crisp perfection. Over the years, while I still struggle with getting photo-worthy slices, I have learned a few tricks for clean cuts:

  • Chill out. Don’t rush. I usually let my brownies chill overnight before I even attempt to cut them. I know, it’s hard to wait when faced with an aromatic pan of brownies just out of oven, but they’re really better the next day, I promise. The overnight chill makes them even fudgier. And easier to cut.
  • Stay sharp. Some people say plastic doesn’t stick, but I have a hard time using plastic knives. I pull out my biggest, sharpest knife, and try to get one smooth cut. Don’t saw. Cut down, and carefully slide it out. Then wipe off the knife before making another cut. Sometimes warming the knife slightly under hot water can help also.
  • Measure twice. Or at least, measure once. Yes, I totally get out the ruler when cutting brownies. My eye just isn’t that good. If I don’t measure first I end up with uneven sizes and non-square squares.
  • Be a square. If you can, invest in a nice 8×8 pan with square corners (I have this one). Then you won’t have any brownies with ugly rounded corners or waste any trimming off the edges (although, I admit, the trimmings make excellent snacks).

I could also see this becoming an elegant ‘black and white’ brownie – with white chocolate mousse on top and tuxedo-like drizzles of dark chocolate.

Chocolate Mousse Brownies

Yield: 16 servings

Total Time: 12 hours

Ingredients:

For Brownies:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup dark or dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

For Mousse:

  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 4 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate, shaved or very finely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-by-8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl. Add cocoa powder, sugar, and brown sugar and stir until it forms a thick, grainy paste. Add eggs, vanilla, salt, and espresso powder and whisk until smooth. Fold in flour until just incorporated and no streaks of white remain. Spread into prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  3. To prepare mousse topping, in a small dish, sprinkle gelatin over 1 tablespoon of cold water and let sit for 5 minutes to soften. Place shaved chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.
  4. In a small saucepan, warm 1/3 cup of the heavy cream until steaming. Whisk in softened gelatin and espresso powder until dissolved. Pour warm cream over shaved chocolate. Let sit for 20 to 30 seconds, then gently whisk until smooth.
  5. Place remaining 2/3 cup heavy cream and granulated sugar in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until it forms soft peaks.
  6. With a large rubber spatula, fold in half of whipped cream to chocolate mixture to lighten. Add remaining cream and gently fold, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, until mousse is uniform in color.
  7. Spoon mousse on top of cooled brownies, and smooth into an even layer with an offset spatula. Do this fairly quickly, as the gelatin will begin to set up fairly quickly and the mousse will be much harder to spread smoothly.
  8. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours or overnight (if possible).
  9. To cut, lift out entire block using the parchment paper as handles. Cut into a 4x4 grid of squares (or smaller if you prefer) using a sharp knife, wiping off knife between cuts. If desired, drizzle with melted chocolate for garnish before or after cutting into squares.

Share this Post:

You may also like...

47 CommentsLeave a Comment →

  1. 1
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 4:22 am

    I love how creative you are when it comes to brownies Lindsay! The idea of a squidy layer of brownie topped with a creamy chocolate mousse sounds totally out of this world. 

    Reply

  2. 2
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 5:05 am

    Yummmmy! ??

    Reply

  3. 3
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 5:31 am

    These brownies are so gorgeous! I used to make plain brownies, but now I am just dying to try these!

    Reply

  4. 4
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 6:15 am

    I am more prone to chocolate brownies too…but these look so incredible that I just may need to switch! I’m always looking for ways to make over the top brownies too…and these are perfect for that! Love the espresso addition! Pinned

    Reply

  5. 5
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 6:22 am

    Amazing! Now a regular brownie will seem extra boring after seeing these ;)

    Reply

  6. 6
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 6:25 am

    These are so pretty! I love the mousse topping :-)

    Reply

  7. 7
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 6:28 am

    I just wanted to thank you for those cutting tips! Obviously these look amazing,  but I was most struck by how beautifully square and perfect these are and was totally going to ask if you had any tips!  Yummy and pretty!

    Reply

  8. 8
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 7:03 am

    I loooooove the mousse on these brownies! So yummy!

    Reply

  9. 9
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 7:32 am

    These are beyond divine… I have always left my brownies just the way they are.. but I’d make the exception for that choco mousse topping!!

    Reply

  10. 10
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 7:37 am

    I too love how creative you are.  Seriously, chocolate mousse topped brownies!  Love it.

    Reply

  11. 11
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 7:42 am

    These look so fudgy. Love that light mousse topping!

    Reply

  12. 12
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Yum and double yum! Can’t wait to try them!

    Reply

  13. 13
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Yep, pretty sure this is what you get at the gates of Heaven.

    Reply

  14. 14
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 8:17 am

    These look so perfect and delicious!  I am definitely following your advice on cutting brownies – it is so hard to avoid getting crumbs all over the place.  Next time, I am waiting overnight for them to cool!

    Reply

  15. 15
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Wow, they look amazing! I will have to try them tonight I think… :)

    Reply

    • Posted On April 12, 2014 at 2:33 am

      So I tried them and they turned out great!! I prepared the cake again yesterday, double the recipe, as I’ll bring it to a birthday. Turns out I only used half the butter the first time for some reason. It was fine but this time I took the right amount and might use some fresh mango as well… I love the recipe!! Thank you for sharing.

  16. 16
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 8:51 am

    These look great and great tips too! I just made Nanaimo Bars last night and I went to great lengths to get them cut nicely and not ruin the layers! This square baking pan is a must and it’s on my “to buy” list. Thanks, Lindsay!

    Reply

  17. 17
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 9:21 am

    I love the idea of mousse topping a brownie even better than frosting!! I hope you do make a tuxedo version…SOON!! :)

    Reply

  18. 18
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Unreasonable levels of cocoa and butter is where it’s at! Of course, no brownie in my life will be complete without chocolate mousse now…and I’m more than OK with that.

    Reply

  19. 19
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 9:50 am

    I am totally the same, plain brownies are just so so. I love the mousse topping, great idea.

    Reply

  20. 20
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Chocolate mousse… forgive me while I droooool!

    Reply

  21. 21
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 10:03 am

    What a perfect dessert, love the combination of chocolate and coffee:)

    Reply

  22. 22
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Oh My! These look heavenly!

    Reply

  23. 23
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Cutting layered brownies really is such a pain! Thanks for your tips!! And these brownies look so so delicious, love the layer of mousse. So good! Pinned :)

    Reply

  24. 24
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    this is amazing and such a good remedy to spicing up the regular brownie!! X

    Reply

  25. 25
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Mmmmm, I could definitely go for one or two of these brownies right now. They look phenomenal!!

    Reply

  26. 26
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    These brownies look amazing. Thanks for the tips on cutting the perfect square. I can only wish to get that clean cut. My husband would never let a brownie sit for 24 hours; he can barely wait 10 minutes.

    Reply

  27. 27
    Posted On April 7, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    my goodness. I am a chocolate mousse lover and this recipe looks amazing!

    Reply

  28. 28
    Posted On April 8, 2014 at 1:57 am

    I’m definitely a failure at cutting brownies properly, because I just want to eat them right away! love the chocolate-espresso action in these.

    Reply

  29. 29
    Posted On April 8, 2014 at 9:03 am

    I agree, plain brownies are boring! Brownies need a little something added to make them special. These look spectacular!

    Reply

  30. 30
    Posted On April 8, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Wow – these brownies look incredible! Such a decadent treat. I bet that mousse is divine :)

    Reply

  31. 31
    Posted On April 8, 2014 at 11:47 am

    Yummy! I made peanut butter mousse topped brownies before which were also fantastic.

    Reply

  32. 32
    Posted On April 8, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    I love the mousse on top – so yummy! And great cutting suggestions – I have a special knife for cutting brownies, cakes, etc.  Perfectly sharp!  :)

    Reply

  33. 33
    Posted On April 8, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Oh this looks so stinkin good! I have not been thinking of anything but chocolate today… i have a good feeling this could satisfy my sweet tooth! Mmmm! Thank you for sharing – love your recipes! xo

    Reply

  34. 34
    Posted On April 9, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    you legit took the words out of my mouth as I saw that first pic and thought DAMN, this girrrl cuts her brownies perfect!!! really appreciate the tips, and I especially agree about the cut down/slide move with an extra sharp knife – fighting it only makes things a mess!! looks faboosh Linds :)

    Reply

  35. 35
    Posted On April 9, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Loving these brownies!! beautiful pics Lindsay! :)

    Reply

  36. 36
    Posted On April 10, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Beautiful brownies! I agree; I’m not happy with plain brownies either. I love experimenting with my brownies to see what I can come up with. 

    Reply

  37. 37
    Joe
    Posted On April 11, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    I’ve use a pizza cutter to cut brownies. Never had any problems. Works like a charm. You need a decent pizza cutter though. Cheapies probably won’t work. 

    Reply

  38. 38
    Posted On April 12, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Oh my, this looks SO delicious. 

    Reply

  39. 39
    Paola Passarelli
    Posted On April 14, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Hi, can I substitute the dutch process cocoa with baking chocolate? I want to make them now, but dont have enough cocoa…thanks!

    Reply

    • Posted On April 14, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      You could use regular cocoa instead of dutch, but baking chocolate is going to change the consistency of the brownies quite a bit, and I wouldn’t know what sort of quantities you’d substitute. I might seek out a brownie recipe that uses melted chocolate instead of cocoa to begin with, something like the base used here: http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2012/12/peppermint-bark-brownies.html. Then top it with the chocolate mousse. :)

  40. 40
    Posted On April 14, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    These look absolutely divine!

    Reply

  41. 41
    Noreen
    Posted On April 14, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    As soon as I read your post and recipe I looked at the clock to see if I had enough time to prepare, bake, cool, refrigerate and frost. I was flyinggggg!  I’m sure I looked nuts! haha Fun night out with friends, they will love these! The mousse is ridiculous! Thank you.

    Reply

  42. 42
    Lily
    Posted On April 20, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    How can I store these? I made them today (so delicious), but I am planning to bring the rest to an event on Thursday. Fridge, freezer, or what do you recommend? 

    Reply

  43. 43
    Jacqueline
    Posted On April 22, 2014 at 10:46 am

    I’m not usually one for frosted brownies (I think the brownies themselves are decadent enough) but something about the chocolate mousse sounds just right. I’ll have to keep these in mind next time I’m in a chocolate mood!

    Reply

  44. 44
    Posted On April 23, 2014 at 5:19 am

    This looks almost too good to be true! yum! 

    Reply

  45. 45
    Veronica
    Posted On July 9, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Can I use shortening besides butter allergic

    Reply

Leave a Comment