Paris will always be a home away from home for Phil and I.  If we could, we’d fly back there more often, but unfortunately we go through several years of (switching briefly to Portuguese) “saudades de Paris”.  Saudade is a word from my native language that has no exact match is English. From Wikipedia: “Saudade describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or deeply melancholic longing for an absent something or someone who one loves”.  The word originated in Portugal to describe the feelings of family members of sailors who would see them leave shore on the glorious days of Portuguese expeditions, uncertain of their return.  And the exact same feeling hit the sailors themselves, as the distance between them and their beloved country would get bigger and bigger.  It’s been 3 years since we’ve last been to Paris, so the “saudade” is intensifying quite a bit.  How do I deal with it? I indulge in reading some wonderful French food blogs, like Du Miel et Du Sel, where I found this post about a chocolate mousse. It was described as  “légère comme une plumme“, or “light as a feather”.  It delivered exactly what it promised, a mousse without the cloying nature that often sends it over the top for my taste. The secret? No egg yolks and no butter!  Just pure chocolate deliciousness


(from Marie Claire,  Du Miel et du Sel)

* 8 servings*

200 g dark chocolate (I used 72% cocoa)
200 g heavy cream
200 g egg whites (6 egg whites)
pinch of salt
60 g sugar

Cut the chocolate in small pieces and place inside a large bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a gentle boil, then pour it over the chocolate, one-third of the volume at a time, mixing well after each addition.  After all the cream is added, the chocolate emulsion should be very smooth, without any lumps.

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt for a few minutes until they start to get some body.  At this point, add the sugar slowly, a little at a time, always whipping the eggs.  Beat until they form firm peaks.

Mix 1/3 of the beaten egg whites to the chocolate, no need to be gentle at this point, just mix it all well to lighten up the chocolate mixture.  Add the rest of the egg whites very gently, folding with a spatula, making sure not to deflate the egg whites too much.  Divide the mousse into 8 serving cups, refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.


to print the recipe, click here

We make desserts exclusively when we have guests over for dinner.  For this particular occasion, we had three very special guests at home, a Brazilian scientists who came over to give a talk, and two friends from KSU.   Our Brazilian guest not only is a great scientist and a dear friend, but once suffered through a tricky situation in our home in Oklahoma.  He came to give a talk in our former department (just like he did now at KSU), and on that evening we hosted a lab party that ended with a strawberry genoise cake.  By far the worst concoction I’ve ever made, one that my guests ate in silence, but not the “good” type of silence.  The bottom layer of my “masterpiece” had somehow turned into a solid rock, hard to cut even with a serrated knife!  I know, I know, how could anyone achieve that?  It was very embarrassing. I wanted to disappear from the face of the planet. Of course, once the initial shock was over,  we laughed about it, and everyone salvaged the top layer of the cake and left the concrete part untouched.   I’ve never attempted a genoise again, although my friend Gary, patissier extraordinaire, keeps telling me to go for it.  I will, once I get over that trauma (sigh). Anyway, I wanted to exorcise the demons of my past, and make a dessert that our guests would enjoy. A chocolate mousse light as a feather could not possibly turn into a rock, right?  Right.  This was the happy ending I was hoping for our pizza party.  You can make them big, you can make them small, you can top with strawberries, you can add shaved chocolate, or go for the kill and top with some whipped cream.  Whatever route you choose, Marie Claire said it all in her post:

Vous allez vous lécher les doigts.  (It’s finger-licking good!)

Black Olive Sourdough Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Buttermilk Cluster

THREE YEARS AGO: Farfalle, Farfalle


  1. I think I understand the word “saudade”, in Romanian we call it “dor”!
    Your mousse looks delicious, I think it goes well with the strawberries.


    • Liana, how interesting! We have the exact same word in Portuguese and it means “pain”. It is amazing how Romanian and Portuguese have a lot in common and the languages ‘sound’ similar. I had a co-worker from Romania while I lived in Paris and listening to him speak on the phone with his wife was so cool! I could not quite understand it, but it sounded familiar 😉


  2. I always love hearing about words that exist in other languages that have no English counterpart. Italian has a few but nothing quite like saudade! How lovely (not the feeling, but the emotional richness of it…if that makes sense). This mousse looks amazing! I can’t believe that it’s really just chocolate and heavy cream!


    • I am a complete sucker for languages – love how different languages deal with expressing emotions.

      I just got an email from my niece urging me to make her mousse recipe, which is the complete opposite: a lot of eggs and butter. But she says it is worth every spoonful… we shall see…. we shall see 😉


    • Home-sickness is close enough to one of the meanings of saudade, but it also applies to missing someone who passed away, or your childhood days… Not sure you ever listened to the typical music from Portugal, “fado”. Fado is all about saudade that is so ingrained in the Portuguese culture. When I visited Lisbon, we went to a particular spot where the ships used to leave shore and the view of the open ocean from that spot is unforgettable! You can sense the full meaning of the word saudade standing right there.


  3. Sally: This mousse looks very light indeed! (and inviting too). I thought that you has saudades from Brazil but it is Paris. How interesting is that! But I can understand. When I am here eu sinto saudades do Brasil but when I am there, eu sinto saudades dos USA. 🙂 It is like having two dear homes.


    • Well, because we were in Brazil just a couple of months ago, the “saudades do Brasil” stays in the background for the time being…

      But it’s exactly what you said – two dear homes, or in my case three because of Paris and all the years I’ve lived there. There is something that we lose when we leave our home country for good, but there’s also a lot we gain. Hard to explain… mas voce entende! 😉


  4. Looks great and not too hard!! I too count Paris as one of my favorite places. It was our 50th anniversary in April and my gift from my husband was a week in Paris..we go in early June.. I will sit at a nice sidewalk cafe with a glass of wine and raise a glass to you two. Barb


    • Oh, how wonderful! Congratulations on 50 years! That is a milestone that unfortunately I won’t be able to make it, unless I live to be 90 and Phil 98! Please do enjoy a special glass of wine for us! If you can stop by at Les Deux Magots, do so… it is our special place, well, one of them 🙂 And make a point of walking underneath the Eiffel when they have the light show on, at the hour! OH, my… saudades, that’s what it is!

      Again, congratulations on 50 years… have a wonderful time in June!


    • We are at a hotel not far from Les Deux Magots and have been there in the past,,will certainly enjoy a nice glass for you and Phil,,saudades for sure!! The toast that I gave at our celebration dinner is an a very favorite of mine… ” May all your towns be Paris..and may all your months be May..says it all does it not?? Barb


    • Isn’t that something? Apparently this was developed by a French patissier, who wanted to have a mousse as light and airy as possible. Well, I call his recipe a success!


  5. Your mousse looks delicious Sally…creamy and rich…a perfect way to end an elegant dinner. Yes, I tried to explain “saudades” to my husband and there is no word that can truly do it.
    Thanks for this awesome and yet great dessert. Have a wonderful weekend ahead 🙂


    • Saudade is by far one of the most poetic and beautiful words – I know that the German language is supposed to have very specific words to describe feelings (and things) – I often wonder if saudade is something they defined as closely in German.

      gosh, I need another life to explore all things language that fascinate me! 😉


  6. Magnifique ma belle! It does look light as a feather…you’ve illustrated it well but I think you need more excuses to make desserts beyond having guests over :). Perhaps you can practice your genoise again for just you & Phil! (loved the story and can relate! heehee, these things are always funny retrospectively ;-)). Love the addition of the berries here.


    • Did you just called me Ma belle? Well, well, well, you just won one thousand, five hundred and fifty nine brownie points, to be collected whenever you feel like stopping at our door in the Little Apple (that would be Manhattan, Kansas, USA!) 🙂

      see how far a little compliment takes you? Yeap, that’s the state of affairs at the present time…

      I promise to try the genoise sometime this year. From now to Dec 31st, 2013. There you have it. A little “ma belle”, and I lose my common sense.


  7. Oh France! It’s been one year since we visited Paris (and we had the most amazing chocolate mousse there). I miss it terribly! I can’t wait to go back. In the meantime, I’m just going to have to make this recipe! It looks just heavenly! Thank you for sharing. And thank you for your sweet words on my blog 🙂


  8. You are so right.. yearning would be the closest word to yours but it just skims the surface of the emotion you’re describing. You’ve really caught my Parisian fantasies.. the language here is so romantic..and then that desert.. magnificent. What a wonderful post to come back here to after a prolonged absence.. I believe I was feeling your saudade and now I feel refreshed:) xx


  9. The Welsh have a similar word Hiraeth apparently (I looked it up, I don’t speak Welsh 😀 ) but I am suffering from longing for your mousse, la belle dame sans merci, you are indeed publishing this when I am on my way to bed and there is no mousse in the house….. I love your stories Sally 🙂


    • Hiraeth – beautiful word indeed, I am going to jump into a virtual dictionary. Welsh is an amazing language, unique sounds that only native speakers seem to be able to pronounce. I had a friend many many many years ago who spoke the language and I had a lot of fun with her trying to teach me.. pretty hopeless, though 🙂


Click here to comment, love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.