Posts Tagged ‘mousse’

Savor the Pumpkin!

October 5, 2010

I feel so unoriginal working with pumpkin and apples for Fall, but there’s a reason they’re such popular ingredients – they’re so good! I’m actually quite proud of this recipe because I have not tasted or seen a dish quite like this.

Pumpkin pie and its variations are always popular as the combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and pumpkin is a guaranteed success. Pumpkin soups are also very popular, but that’s just pumpkin, heavy cream, and a few spices (ironically, not so different from what I made!). Chopped pumpkin garnished with nuts and spices and baked as a casserole is good, but simple. I wanted to create something interesting and different for First Friday. I think I succeeded!

savory pumpkin mousse

Savory pumpkin mousse served on pumpkin skin. Yes, it's entirely edible. And yes, it was sitting on my laptop.

Savory Pumpkin Mousse

created on-the-fly by Sarah Johnson

Ingredients

  1. Cut the pumpkin in half and place face down on a baking sheet.
  2. Bake the pumpkin at 400F for about 30 minutes, until you can easily poke through it with a fork.
  3. Scoop out the pulp of the pumpkin, leaving the skin intact.
  4. Chill the pumpkin skin so that it is not soft and flimsy.
  5. Puree the pumpkin pulp.
  6. Simmer the pumpkin in a pot over very low heat.
  7. Chop about 10 sage leaves and grind the coriander seeds (or use powder).
  8. Add the butter, sage, coriander, and ginger to the pumpkin, cover, and simmer until the flavors are blended.
  9. Chill the pumpkin mixture until it is room temperature or colder.
  10. Whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar.
  11. Carefully fold the whipped cream and pumpkin mixture together. Use about a 1:2 ratio of whipped cream to pumpkin.
  12. Slice the pumpkin skin away from large amounts of remaining pulp.
  13. Cut the skin into 1"x1" squares, or slightly larger triangles.
  14. Spoon about 1 T of the pumpkin mixture onto each square or triangle of skin.
  15. Slice the remaining sage leaves into thin ribbons and curl for garnish atop each piece of pumpkin.
Advertisements

Decadent Mini-Explosions of Chocolatey Goodness

May 9, 2010

Success! As a birthday treat for Sarah of Two Percent to Glory and a celebration of First Friday, I attempted to make a variation on my signature dish of chocolate mousse pie. Appropriately this post comes on Mother’s Day as this was my mother’s standard dessert. Not that there’s anything standard about it, but if she needed to make a dessert, it was chocolate mousse. It’s a fairly simple recipe and gets the same reaction every time: orgasmic silence of a mouthful of chocolatey goodness.

Mini Chocolate Mousse Cup

Miniature chocolate mousse cup.

Since First Friday is a finger food occasion, I needed to modify the pie recipe to be portable and bite-sized. This was not an easy feat for a dessert that consists of gooey filling in a crumbly crust. Even worse, I found out why my mom stock piles the cookies required for the crust – it’s not just cause she likes to have extras of every food item on hand at all times. They are incredibly hard to find!

I started experimenting on Wednesday with chocolate wafers and semi-sweet chocolate chips in a miniature muffin tin. Between time chilling in the fridge and modifications to the recipe, it took three days to perfect the miniature mousse cups. And I do mean perfect!

WARNING! This is a recipe which you may no longer consume once you know the ingredients! Sometimes ignorance makes for delicious (if fattening) bliss.

Miniature Chocolate Mousse Cups

inspired by my mother’s recipe, originally featured in Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • 18 oz chocolate cookies (Archway Dutch Cocoa)
  • 1 c butter
  • 1/2 lb semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 T powdered sugar

Equipment

miniature muffin tin
miniature muffin wrappers
food processor

  1. Grind cookies into a fine powder in the food processor.
  2. Melt butter, then mix with cookie powder until completely blended. It’s best to get messy and use your hand for this part.
  3. Chocolate Hand

    Making the cookie crumb crust is a messy but delicious job.

  4. Chill the mixture for up to 30 minutes so that it will hold its shape when pressed together.
  5. Place muffin wrappers in the muffin tin.
  6. Each cup will use about 3 T of the cookie/butter mixture. Scoop some into each cup and press the crumbs against the sides of the wrapper until it is about 1/4" thick. Fill in the bottom last.
  7. Chill the cups in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Melt the chocolate on the stove, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
  9. Let the chocolate cool to 95F.
  10. Add a whole egg to the melted chocolate and stir until blended.
  11. Add 2 egg yolks to the melted chocolate and stir until blended. Set aside.
  12. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream and 3 T of powdered sugar until peaks form. Set aside.
  13. Whip 2 egg whites until they form stiff peaks but are not dry.
  14. Fold half of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Then fold half of the egg whites into the mixture. Repeat with the rest of the cream and egg whites.
  15. Spoon the mousse mixture into the cookie crumb cups, about 1 t per cup.
  16. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream and 3 T of powdered sugar until peaks form.
  17. Place about 1 T of whipped cream on top of each mousse cup.
  18. Chill mousse cups in the fridge for 6 hours until the mousse is set and thick. Then devour!

Variations
I have had decades of experience making this chocolate mousse in all kinds of kitchens. The hardest one was a college dorm with no food processor and no electric mixer. If you ever want to test your endurance and desire for chocolate mousse, whip egg whites using a whisk!

Cookie Crumb Crust
The original recipe uses double the amount of filling and whipped cream and half the amount of cookie crumb crust. It’s made in a 9″ spring form pan and served in slices. The type of cookies for the crust is important. This past time I could not find the Archway or even the chocolate Nilla Wafers. I could hardly find plain chocolate cookies in any grocery store! So I took a gamble and used a chocolate wafer cookie which was too dry and not rich enough. I came up with a great solution though: ground semi-sweet chocolate chips in the food processor with the cookies! I used about 1 cup of chocolate chips to 9 ounces of cookies. Worked perfectly.

Cookie Crumb Cup

The perfection of my experimentation in the form of a chocolate cookie crumb cup.

Powdered Sugar
I have taken to not keeping powdered sugar on hand because it’s just one more box to store. Instead, I used a spice grinder (mini food processor) to make powdered sugar. Although powdered sugar has corn starch in it, I left that out and it worked fine.

Whipped Cream Topping
The easy way to add the topping is with a spoon. The fun way to add the topping is with a pastry tube. I used a small star nozzle, started in the center of the cup spiraling out, then up to make a pyramid/rosette type thing. Can you tell I’ve never spent much time decorating cakes? Any nozzle with ridges will create a beautiful design. Just be sure to add at least 1 T of whipped cream, unless you want death by chocolate. Which isn’t a bad thing!

Whipped Cream Topping

For fancy mousse cups use a pastry tube to add the whipped cream. Otherwise, just spoon some on!

Chocolate
I like dark chocolate. I don’t keep semi-sweet on hand because 1) I eat it and 2) supposedly the dark stuff is healthier if you’re going to eat chocolate at all. So I simply doubled the amount of sugar in the mousse itself (6 T when whipping the cream instead of 3). Tasted good to me. This is a very rich dessert and the sugar can be adjusted for your taste in chocolate. I will say though, it is important to choose good chocolate because it is the basis of the flavor of the dessert. My mother always uses fancy imported baking chocolate. Desserts like this require splurging for the good stuff!

Melting Chocolate
Melting chocolate is a lot easier than it used to be when this recipe was originated. I have a recipe for making fudge that takes about 5 minutes in the microwave. My mother always used a double boiler when melting chocolate. This is the most traditional and probably safest way of not burning the chocolate as the heat from the steam is gentle. I do not have a double boiler but use very low heat on the stovetop and stir the chocolate a whole lot. Another method would be to melt the chocolate on medium heat in the microwave. Probably a lot faster. I’m just not a fan of microwaves. Too much guess work. And how fun is it to watch chocolate melt!

melted chocolate

The beauty of melted chocolate.

Flavors
My final variation on this classic recipe calls for creativity and has no bounds: additions! My mother makes this dessert the same way every time. Why mess with a classic? Because I am not my mother (happy mother’s day!). Consider this a form of evolution. I once used raspberry jam to create a middle layer in the mousse. I added half the mousse mixture to the crust, then added some raspberry preserves which had been heated until liquified, then the rest of the mousse. Make sure to let the jam cool a bit before adding it to prevent the mousse from melting entirely.

A coffee-flavored mousse would be delicious with espresso powder or instant coffee added to the melted chocolate while still hot. Probably 1-3 T depending on your coffee hankering. Extracts and zest work well too. Extracts such as almond or vanilla should be added to the whipped cream for the mousse after it has taken shape. Zest (lime, lemon, orange) should be folded into the whipped cream topping. I want to try every combination but given the ingredients, this is a dessert that I make no more than once a year.