Chocolate Mousse Used To Be Known By Another Puzzling Name

chocolate mousse in glasses
chocolate mousse in glasses - Liliya Kandrashevich/Shutterstock

You know chocolate mousse. Chances are, you love chocolate mousse. A decadent concoction of chocolate and either whipped egg whites or whipped cream (or both), chocolate mousse is one of those desserts that just feels fancy despite it being surprisingly simple to make. It's also an extremely old dessert -- its first recorded recipe dates to the 1700s (although it didn't gain popularity until the late 19th century). Oh, and during its rise to popularity, it was called "chocolate mayonnaise."

No, you didn't read that wrong; chocolate mousse was, in fact, once referred to as "mayonnaise de chocolat." No, this doesn't mean they were combining chocolate with mayonnaise back then; they just called it that (in between calling it chocolate mousse both before and after). Why was it called that? It turns out we don't actually know; we just know that was its name at one point from contemporary sources. It starts to make sense when you think about the ingredients and how it's made, though.

Read more: 11 Discontinued Chocolates We Miss The Most

Mayonnaise And Mousse Are Made In Relatively Similar Ways

mayonnaise with whisk and egg shells
mayonnaise with whisk and egg shells - Floortje/Getty Images

Chocolate mousse and mayonnaise share more similarities than you might think. Both are made with eggs, though the process is slightly different. With chocolate mousse, egg yolks are cooked with chocolate, then whipped egg whites or whipped cream is added to the mixture, which gives it its signature airy texture. Homemade mayonnaise, meanwhile, is an emulsion of oil and vinegar whisked with either whole eggs or egg yolks (and no actual heat). Thus, while the two are different, it's easy to see where the overlap might come from.

What's a lot harder to see is where chocolate mousse came from in the first place. Many sources credit post-Impressionist painter Henri Toulouse-Lautrec in the late 1800s, but this is likely incorrect. We don't know exactly when the French started making mousse, but it was likely during the first half of the 18th century. In 1750, though, we got the first recorded instance of a recipe in a book called "La Science du Maître d'Hôtel Confiseur" (rough translation: "The Science of a Master Confectioner"), in which it is referred to as chocolate mousse. (Mayonnaise's own origin story, it's worth noting, dates from around the same time.) But it didn't become widespread until much later.

We Don't Know When They Started Calling It Chocolate Mayonnaise

chocolate mousse on board
chocolate mousse on board - RomanaMart/Shutterstock

It's likely the reason Henri Toulouse-Lautrec received credit for the invention is because it became popular when he was a big name. You see this throughout history sometimes, like how former Civil War general Abner Doubleday is often credited with the invention of baseball in Cooperstown, New York, even though this is almost certainly false. But the timing of Lautrec inventing the dish doesn't quite work. He was known as a cook in private, but the earliest written reference to chocolate mousse in America dates from 1887 (when he would've been 23 years old), while Lautrec didn't become famous even in his own country until 1888. That 1887 reference -- which does not use the term chocolate mayonnaise -- very closely resembles modern chocolate mousse, so it's not likely it was referring to another dish entirely.

The dish almost certainly predates Lautrec, but we don't know specifically when it started to be called chocolate mayonnaise. The term is used in a 1909 French cookbook and again later in a 1940 issue of Gourmet magazine. Regardless, it appears under that name in numerous 20th-century recipes before the nomenclature fell out of style and went back to its original moniker. But it's weird it was ever called that to begin with.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.