Chocolate Mousse Pie


No matter the decade, no matter the trend, chocolate mousse figures as the ultimate in dinner party desserts. This particular lovable chocolate mousse pie has stood as one my favorite desserts for decades, not least because its method is just so cool. With one batter, you make both the crust and the filling of a chocolate-y pie that’s at once hearty and light. All that goes into this super-batter are eggs, chocolate, and sugar (more or less), which means that this exquisite, elegant tart is both flour and butter free.

Maida Heatter has a way with chocolate. She mastered not-too-sweet, not-too-rich chocolate desserts even before these times of high-quality, bittersweet bars. And this recipe, from her book, Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts, not only shows her cacao expertise but also comes with the cutest intro paragraph I’ve ever read.

Of the many recipes that were born in my kitchen, this was one of the most exciting because it became The New York Times’s 1972 Dessert of the Year.

Cute, right?

Maida Heatter is right on. Forty years later, this recipe is still exciting. And as we head towards 2013–forty-one years later–the tart will stay exciting, which is one of the reasons I’m posting this today. I think it would make a fabulous, festive, elegant New Year’s Eve dessert, if you’re hosting a party at home or responsible for bringing dessert to a friend’s dinner party.

Happy new year, BGSK readers!

More Festive New Year’s Eve Dishes:


Brie and Red Pepper Crostini

Broiled Oysters with Sriracha-Lime Butter

Tomato-Basil Soup


Green Harissa Salmon

Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder with Fennel and Apples

Mac ‘n Cheese with Pesto, Prosciutto, and Peas


Coconut Budino

Homemade Frozen Yogurt Ice Cream

S’more Chocolate Bark



Chocolate Mousse Pie
Serves 8-12
Adapted from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts

Butter for the pan
8 ounces semisweet chocolate (I used a block of Callebaut, chopped finely)
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1/4 cup boiling water
8 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Whipped cream for serving

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch glass pie pan well.

Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. In a small bowl, dissolve the coffee in the hot water, then add to the chocolate. Microwave until just smooth in 30-second intervals – it shouldn’t take more than a minute to a minute and a half if you cut your chocolate small. Set aside to cool. You can also melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler.

In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg yolks on high speed for 5 minutes, until they’re lightened and thickened. Slowly stream in the sugar while beating, then continue to beat on high speed for 5 more minutes. The yolks will be very thick and a little sticky. Add the vanilla and chocolate and beat them in slowly, scraping down the bowl. Set aside and wash and dry the mixer’s beaters well.

Put the egg whites in another mixing bowl and add the salt. With those clean, dry beaters, beat the whites until they hold soft peaks, but not until they are stiff or dry.

In two or three small additions, fold about half of the egg whites into the egg yolk-chocolate mixture – no need to be very thorough. Then fold the chocolate into the remaining whites. Fold only until no egg whites show, using big but gentle movements so as not to deflate all those egg whites you just inflated with air.

Handling as little as possible, remove 4 cups of the mousse to a bowl or storage container. Store in the fridge.

Turn the rest of the batter into the pie plate – it won’t look like there’s that much, but don’t worry. Gently, level it out. Bake for 22 minutes, until puffed. Turn off the oven and leave the pie plate in for another 5 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool completely – the mousse will deflate, leaving a high rim, which will become the crust.

When the baked mousse is completely cool, remove the reserved mousse from the fridge and gently mound it in the center of the shell. Spread it to the edges, leaving it slightly higher in the center. Smooth the top so it looks pretty to serve, but don’t deflate the air out of it.

Refrigerate at least 2 to 3 hours, or overnight. The tart will set, making it easy to cut.

Serve in wedges, with whipped cream scooped on each slice.

Posted in: Baking For Others
  • Taylor

    I’m friends with Cara and she generously donated some of her chocolate pie to a person in confectionary need — ME.

    It was delicious and fans of this blog should be unequivocally jealous of my taste buds.

    I hope your version was half as tasty

    • BGSK

      Damn, you’re lucky.

  • Bev @ Bev Cooks

    Oh my WORD I want thissss. AND, I saw you on freaking Barefoot Con the other day and nearly wet my face. Congrats!

  • Warm Vanilla Sugar

    Yuussss! This looks fabulous!

    • BGSK

      It is! I swear!

  • ChocolateCakeBlog

    Yum… looks scrumptious!

  • Rebecca Wiggins Richmond

    Thank you for posting my New Year’s Day dessert. Perfect for my dairy-intolerant crowd!

    • BGSK

      You’re so welcome! Amazing how Maida anticipated our dietary needs forty years in advance…

  • Victoria

    I made this two days ago and it was AMAZING! Just perfect; texture, taste, and so chocolaty and rich, and at the same time pillowy and soft.
    Thank you so much for the best chocolate mousse pie ever.

    • BGSK

      Happy to hear it, Victoria, and you’re welcome!

  • Brian Samuels

    You are so right… she does it right. My first intro to baking with chocolate was with her books. I am so glad I’m seeing this AFTER we had our NYE dinner, otherwise I totally would have made this and I would have felt wicked guilty.

    • BGSK

      That’s so funny, Brian! I also love Alice Medrich…she’s kind of Maida’s heir, I think.

  • Emily

    This looks amazing…I love chocolate mousse, and a good recipe is hard to find. Thank you!

  • expert

    Yummmm, very nice

  • Cookie and Kate

    You have absolutely sold me on this pie and Ms. Maider. I’m giving this a try as soon as I find a worthy occasion. Happy New Year, Cara!

    • BGSK

      Oh hooray! She doesn’t disappoint. Happy new year to you, Kathryne!

  • Kristina

    Chocolate mousse pie is a family tradition for EVERY holiday. My grandpa is obsessed w/Julia child’s recipe and brings it to every Christmas :) So cool that you use the same batter for the mousse and crust! Grandpa’s going to be upset… but I think we need to mix it up w/this one next time!

  • Robin

    How come the top is not baked and it has egg yolks in it? Is this okay to eat? I made it last night and have the BBQ today. Don’t want ppl getting salmonella. Thanks!

    • BGSK

      This is a mousse, made with raw eggs. I recommend using the best-quality organic eggs, as you’ll be eating them without cooking.

  • Shi Hui

    is it possible to halve the recipe? If yes, what pan size should I use and how do I modify the baking time for the crust?=)

    • BGSK

      I wouldn’t recommend halving it! However, I can attest that leftovers freeze really well and are best enjoyed straight from the freezer.

  • Ken D’Ambrosio

    In my family, this recipe has gained — literally — heirloom status. Back when it was in the NYT Magazine, my mother clipped it and made it. And we were utter converts to what is, if I may be so bold, the single best chocolate dessert on God’s green Earth. (Note: if you’re not a fan of chocolate, don’t spend your time on this recipe. But if you *are* a fan, this isn’t one of those recipes where you wind up with something with the shape, texture, and appeal of a chocolate-flavored brick. This dessert needs to be made to be believed.) Sadly, the specter of salmonella made my mother take it off her annual rotation sometime in the early 80’s. My brother and I would beg, to no end — until for my 25th birthday party, she typed it up and gave me a copy. Which — alas — I lost. I asked her for it many times, but she either sidestepped or claimed she didn’t know of its whereabouts.

    Upon her passing in ’09, I was the one who acquired her cookbooks and recipe clippings. I went through and found something similar, but it didn’t strike the right tone; there were elements missing that detracted from perfection. So then I sat down and studiously went through every. single. recipe… and found it.

    And tonight, I’m making it for my brother’s 45th birthday. As Fate would have it, her birthday precedes his by one day.

    So here’s to you, mom. And happy birthday to the both of you.

    • BGSK

      What a sweet story, Ken! Funnily enough, one of the very early recipes posted on BGSK had a similar background. It’s a chocolate cake (, and my mom had cut the recipe out of Bon Appetit ages ago. And then she lost the recipe. It wasn’t till the early 2000s that she was able to find it online (no organized binders in this family). Happy birthday to your brother, and hope the dessert was as good as you remembered! – Cara

  • Julie

    Hi! If this is the recipe I have been searching for…I LOVE this pie!! i first made this when I was 17 back in 1972 and made it a few times before I left my mother’s home to get married. She (not being a baker) threw the recipe away and I have been searching ever since. Thing is, I’m not so adventurous nowadays and don’t like the idea of ingesting this much raw egg. Any ideas without compromising the flavor too much…I’m thinking, maybe a few tablespoons of brandy. If it wasn’t chocolate I would add lemon juice to the eggs…I don’t think orange juice would have the same effect as lemon juice or I’d give that a whirl….

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