Officials unveil Uncle Don’s top-secret chocolate mousse recipe

Uncle Don

Uncle Don

SPOKANE — Saying the time was right to lift the veil of secrecy, government officials today released the full, uncensored recipe for Uncle Don’s top-secret chocolate mousse, a mind-blowingly delicious dessert that was only offered to Tedesco kids once a year on Thanksgiving.

“We’ve determined that Uncle Don’s chocolate mousse recipe is no longer a national security issue and can be shared with the public,” said Pentagon spokesman Gary Hughes. “Get ready for bliss, America.”

Hughes said Tedesco kids were among the lucky few who were ever allowed to devour the incredibly rich treat every Thanksgiving. Filled with arcane ingredients and bewildering footnotes, the secret recipe is believed to have originated from a 1970s edition of Sunset Magazine.

“That chocolate mousse was crazy good,” Hughes said. “It looked like pudding. But it totally tasted better than pudding, which is surreal if you think about it. Because pudding is already the bomb. So just imagine how freakin’ decadent that chocolate mousse tasted. We have no idea how Uncle Don did it.”

Pentagon officials said they could no longer justify keeping such a kick ass recipe a secret. At the end of the Cold War, they began the long, arduous process of declassifying the mysterious concoction to unleash its sheer awesomeness on the American public:

Uncle Don’s Bitter Chocolate Mousse Recipe (Declassified)

3 eggs, separated (see note 3)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons Gran Marnier
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 oz unsweetened chocolate (I like Ghirardelli’s)
4 tablespoons butter at room temperature
3 tablespoons strong coffee (see note 1)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

In the upper half of a double boiler, beat the egg yolks. Add the granulated sugar, Gran Marnier (see note 2 below), vanilla and coffee. Beat together. Put upper half of double boiler over lower half with simmering water. Beat mixture until it thickens a bit and becomes slightly foamy. This will take at least 5 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature.

In a saucepan, slowly melt the chocolate over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in butter. The butter should melt completely and mix with the chocolate. Stir this chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture.

Beat the egg whites (see note 3 below) until foamy. Add powdered sugar. Beat to stiff peaks. Stir into the chocolate mixture a bit at a time (see note 4 below).

Whip cream (see note 5). Fold into above chocolate mixture (see note 3 below). Cool for a minimum of several hours and serve.


1. I like to make espresso coffee for this.

2. Adding the Gran Marnier at this point tends to cook out some of its flavor. It could be added after the chocolate mixture is cooked and cooled down somewhat, but the mixture tends to become stiff and grainy without the added liquid from the Gran Marnier. Your mileage may vary.

3. Long ago, I used fresh eggs for both the yolks and the whites. When the warnings about not using raw eggs were sounded, I stopped making this recipe for many years because the whites are raw (the yolks are cooked). I then discovered dried eggs yolks, which are safe. So I began making the mousse again. I typically use a bit more of the egg white powder than specified on the container so that the egg whites whip up well to stiff peaks. I use the whites from the fresh eggs for an omelet the next day.

4. I don’t like to thoroughly mix in the egg whites or the whipped cream. If over-mixed, the mousse becomes heavy. For the egg whites, I usually add a small portion (maybe 1/4 at most) to the chocolate mixture and mix thoroughly. This softens the mixture. I then fold in the rest. Note that the egg whites will be mixed in more when the whipped cream is added. I think that little bits of unmixed egg white and whipped cream add interest.

5. There is a balance to whipping the cream. Too little and the whipped cream collapses when mixed with the chocolate mixture. Too much and the whipped cream is too stiff to mix well.

General note: This recipe is originally from Sunset magazine, probably from the early 1970s. I got it from Peggy Manor, who sang in the St. Anne Choir (where I also sang when I worked for Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, CA). Some of the choir members would gather Sunday evening to sing vespers, and then have dinner. She often brought this for dessert. It was her idea to add the Gran Marnier.

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