Grandmother Catlin’s Chocolate Dessert: Chocolate Mousse with Ginger Cookie Crust



This is a twist our family’s “Chocolate Dessert”, a Christmas specialty of my Grandmother Catlin’s (who was described in Ring Around the Punch Bowl as a woman “who could ride and swear like a man.”  I never considered her a cook, but her take on mousse is a perennial favorite that debuts on birthdays and other special family occasions, coast to coast.  The director of a summer camp in Maine told the author(s) of The Joy of Cooking about the “crestfallen faces in the dining room when it turned out that the “moose” promised for evening dessert had emerged from the pages of Joy instead of from the woods.” Gammy’s recipe shares some ingredients with the Rombauer’s recipe, but like my grandmother, it’s an original.

Chocolate Mousse with Ginger Cookie Crust

Serves 4-8 depending on serving size/appetite.




3 oz. (3/4 cup) cookie GF Ginger Cookie crumbs (I like Mi-Del’s)

3 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter


3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped.  (Use chips if you have them.)

3 oz. heavy cream


3 oz. bittersweet chocolate (chips)

3 oz. milk chocolate (chips)

1 Tablespoon powdered sugar

1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso dissolved in 2 teaspoons water OR 2 teaspoons strong coffee

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs separated


2/3 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon powdered sugar (more to taste.)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup candied ginger – chopped (optional as a garnish.)


2 small spring form pans or 4 small ramekins or 1 8” spring form pan

  1. Crush the GF ginger cookies in a plastic bag using a rolling pin or by pulsing in a food processor.  Place in a small bowl.
  2. Add the melted butter to the cookie crumbs; stir until well blended and press firmly into your chosen (pan.)  Chill whilst you move on to the next step.
  3. Ganache: bring 3 oz. heavy cream just to boiling.  Remove from heat and add 3 oz. chocolate chips or pieces.  Stir and cover for 3-5 minutes or until chocolate is melted.  Stir to blend.
  4. Pour ganache over the cookie crust(s), distributing evenly. Return the pan(s) to the refrigerator.
  5. Put 3 oz. bittersweet plus 3 oz. milk chocolate, powdered sugar, and coffee in a pan over boiling water.  Sir until melted/blended.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  6. Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time, blending well after each addition.
  7. Beat the egg whites until stiff (but not dry.)  On low speed, or with a whisk, blend in a little of the chocolate/egg mixture.  Gently, but thoroughly, fold in the remaining chocolate with a rubber spatula.
  8. Pour the chocolate (mousse) over the ganache layer.  Return the (pans) to the refrigerator.
  9. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  10. Run a narrow flexible metal spreading knife under hot water, dry, and run it around the sides of the (pans). Undo the spring-form side to release the mousse.  Use a metal spatula to lift/shift the (cake) off the spring-form base onto a flat serving platter.
  11. Whip the remaining cream; add sugar and vanilla to taste. Chop the candied ginger.
  12. Serve with a dollop of cream and sprinkle of ginger.  A couple of fresh mint leaves would be pretty, especially if you use them as holly “leaves” and the ginger as “berries.”

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