I've been making chocolate mousse à la Julia Child since I was 12. I vaguely recall trying it with butterscotch chips, which didn't work. Now I have high quality white chocolate I'd like to try in lieu of semisweet, but what to substitute for the two liquids, espresso and liqueur/orange juice?

I want this mousse to taste like white chocolate, so orange juice, Cointreau, Amaretto, and coconut milk are out if a quarter cup would compete flavorwise. Rum may be a safe choice, but I only have Captain Morgan's on hand. I won't up the liqueur to a half cup.

I appreciate the mocha flavor of the original, and wonder if using espresso would overpower the white chocolate, or if orange juice would any more than rum. I have a couple more days to figure out what to do. Suggestions?

  • 1
    Hmm, white chocolate is normally vanilla flavored, as cocoa butter has very little flavor of its own, so is there a vanilla liqueur? I seem to recall seeing some sort of vanilla tea, or you could probably mix some vanilla extract up with water (and sugar to match liqueur/juice) to make 1/2 cup and be done. Orange juice would presumably head you towards orange chocolate (the form of which I'm thinking of is white chocolate, orange flavored and colored, though there are of course dark chocolate orange versions which are generally better.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Jul 1, 2017 at 22:11

3 Answers 3


Guittard replied to my query after the fact, so I learned firsthand that one should use less liquid because cocoa solids in dark chocolate are absent from white chocolate. I substituted 1/4 cup milk for the same amount of strong coffee in the original recipe, and the Baker's Premium White Chocolate liquefied. Melted semisweet doesn't pour like it did, and I was paranoid my mousse wouldn't set.

I studied my liqueur options at the store. A 750mL bottle of crème de cacao tempted me with thoughts of frozen cocktails, all requiring additional 750mL bottles of other liqueurs, and I didn't want to go there. The selection of 50mL bottles was limited, but I settled on E&J Vanilla brandy.

When I opened it, there was no essence of vanilla; I smelled only brandy. The 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract I added to the milk was imperceptible, as well. My attempt at white chocolate mousse was more like a brandy Alexander custard. My official taster said he wouldn't have known I used either white chocolate or vanilla if I hadn't told him all about it.

His initial "Wow!" and the way he savored it conveyed his appreciation nonetheless. Brandy made for a good flavoring. If I found Baker's 4-ounce bars on sale again, I'd forgo using liquid in the melting step, and hope for a less custardy consistency. I even reduced the butter by 2 tablespoons, and beat the living daylights out of it before folding in the egg whites. It set, but a spoon won't stand up in it like the original.

Thank you for your advice:)

  • Thanks for the update, Cheryl. My experience in liquor stores is quite limited so I always head for one of the experienced clerks. I had no idea there was such a thing as vanilla brandy. I only know about vanilla vodka when a friend made cocktails and I asked what was in it. A well stocked liquor cabinet is costly! I'm glad you experimented and posted the results. Some of our best creations result from tweaking what we've made. I've just made lemon muffins by doing this. Intense lemon flavour which my son & I prefer. Others who've had them said they loved them too.
    – Jude
    Jul 6, 2017 at 4:53

Cheryl, to me (as I can't speak for others), white chocolate doesn't taste at all 'chocolaty' but just has the mellow rich flavour of the bean's fat and the cream used in making it. Even if someone added a very small amount of expresso or coffee liquor to it, it would only taste like coffee, although fairly faint. Not at all like mocha.

White rum has little flavour so I'm assuming you mean dark rum. I think dark rum would overpower it but perhaps not one that's somewhere between the two. I don't know if Captain Morgan makes one. If you like the flavour rum adds, use it. But Captain Morgan is a very rough tasting rum so yes, cut it down to 1/4 cup or less. Make up the difference with cream when cooking the egg yolk mixture.

It seems like there are a number of Julia Child Chocolate Mousse recipes and not all are the same. The original recipe published from her cookbook in 1961 has this for the ingredients.

4 egg yolks

¼ cup instant sugar (very finely granulated)

¼ cup orange liqueur

6 ounces or squares semisweet baking chocolate

4 Tb strong coffee

6 ounces or 1 ½ sticks softened unsalted butter

¼ cup finely diced, glazed orange peel (optional)

4 egg whites

pinch of salt

1 Tb granulated sugar

Does this sound the same?

Orange liqueur like Cointreau sounds lovely with white chocolate but perhaps not what you're aiming? How does a little Grand Marnier? It has an orange flavour too but quite different to me. It's more robust than Cointreau so I wouldn't use that much. Ultimately, it comes down to your preferences and any guests you're serving it to. (As a side thought, I wonder how a nice brandy would go with white chocolate mousse? I've used it in different desserts before but back when I could afford to stock my cooking pantry with some liqueurs, rum and brandy.)


White chocolate makes me think of neither chocolate nor vanilla--- it definately has its own flavor.

I don't recall what edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking I copied the recipe from. It includes the same ingredients posted here, though I typed 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or 6 squares semisweet baking chocolate, and 1/4 cup orange juice, orange liqueur, or rum.

A family friend presented my parents a bottle of Amaretto Disaronno every Christmas, so I used that until I moved away from home. My experience with alcohol is very limited, and I'm unfamiliar with brandy outside of blackberry. I read that even white crème de cacao tastes chocolaty. I'll probably buy an airline style miniature bottle of whatever I go with.

I always suspected that the liqueur/orange juice was additional assurance any bacteria remaining after heating would be killed. Beating raw eggs over almost-simmering water isn't a death threat to Campylobacter jejuni, but I don't have a raw egg hangup. I've been sampling raw cookie dough for almost half a century, and even taking a pathogenic microbiology couse doesn't dissuade me.

In my opinion, adding cream would pollute Julia Child's recipe. The whipped cream used in other recipes for loft makes me think of bras that add a cup size with padding. Doesn't seem French by nature. The half cup of liquid I use has to be subtle enough not to mask or compete with the delicate flavor of white chocolate. Perhaps white rum is the best liqueur, and water instead of coffee to thin the chocolate. It's possible that much butter will overwhelm the lesser amount of white chocolate.

  • No, I didn't mean to use whipped whipping cream as that's completely different from Child's recipe. I only meant to make up the difference with some cream in the beaten egg yolk mix cooked over simmering water. Water would do but I think it would dilute the flavour. Cream is used in white chocolate which is why I suggested it. The small amount of alcohol in the liqueur wouldn't kill any bacteria in the whipped whites. I'm not worried over eating raw egg whites either. Real brandy is very different than fruit brandy. You'll have to get someone to give you a small taste sometime!
    – Jude
    Jul 2, 2017 at 1:38
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    I'm not that knowledgeable about alcoholic drinks myself but it occurred to me there might be a white chocolate liqueur so I checked. There is! It's called white creme de cacao and there are probably a number of brands. It's colorless but with a chocolaty flavour with hints of vanilla (according to the internet). That might be what you'd like. Or not... ;) But please, don't think I meant to add whipped cream along with whipped egg whites. Antithesis to Child's light mousse.
    – Jude
    Jul 2, 2017 at 1:47
  • Jude, I realized you were recommending unwhipped cream be added to the egg yolks from your first reply. I'd still prefer liqueur for that step, but I could use cream in melting the chocolate instead of plain water. Another subtle flavor may be preferable to either neutral cream or water, so one tastes more than butter. I'm afraid it may turn out like French buttercream instead of mousse. I hate investing in a 750mL bottle of crème de cacao, because I gave up drinking. At least I can cook with rum and whiskey. Jul 2, 2017 at 2:42
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    I'd love to drink occasionally but get a bad reaction. Cheaper this way. Most liqueurs come in tiny bottles containing about 1/4 cup (if I remember the amount right). I'm pretty sure if you phoned liquor stores in your area you'd find at least one selling it in a small bottle.
    – Jude
    Jul 2, 2017 at 3:15
  • So how did your white chocolate mousse turn out? Or have you made it yet? I'd really love to know your results and what you used as I think a whipped egg white mousse sounds better than whipped cream mousse. Not that whipped cream isn't lovely but I don't like that much fat in foods. I feel queasy eating more than a spoonful.
    – Jude
    Jul 6, 2017 at 2:03

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