The Secret Ingredient Marc Murphy Adds To His Chocolate Mousse

Every celebrity chef has their secrets, a fact that Food Network Magazine well knows. But, when the publication put out an article on some of the world's top and most well-known chefs' secret ingredients, some of the "secrets" were pretty unsurprising. Adding bay leaves to soups and stews is nothing new, nor is making your own crunchy croutons. However, some of these so-called secrets are pretty inventive, and even incredibly easy to replicate at home, such as "Chopped" judge Marc Murphy's secret chocolate mousse ingredient.

"In all my restaurants I brew espresso not just to serve as a warm beverage but as a secret addition to chocolate mousse and also in marinades for meat," he explained. "For chocolate mousse and other chocolate desserts, just a touch of espresso really complements the flavor while adding a layer of complexity. Not too much, though, as you don't want to actually taste coffee."

Using espresso to amplify your chocolatey desserts

You may not brew espresso every day like they do at Murphy's restaurants, but you can certainly replicate his use of espresso in chocolate desserts — mousse or otherwise — by swapping out brewed espresso for espresso powder. Typically affordable, easy to find at your average grocery store, and basically a more concentrated version of instant coffee, espresso powder won't make your desserts taste like coffee. 

Instead, professional and home bakers alike have long used espresso powder to amplify dark chocolate notes in rich desserts ranging from brownies to chocolate cake. King Arthur Baking compares it to adding a pinch of salt to your desserts, as the salt helps round out your flavors without actually making your dessert taste salty. All you have to do is add a teaspoon or so of espresso powder to your batter and taste the difference — and it's not just baked items that benefit. Any chocolate dessert item can be improved with a little espresso powder, King Arthur Baking even recommends using the powder in your chocolate frostings or sauces.