Oh come on, you know me by now. I can hear you saying, I can’t believe she’s writing about chocolate…again! But yeah, I am. You know it’s my favorite topic. But I’m going to switch it up a little, and this time post a recipe about white chocolate. I think I’ve really overlooked the virtues of white chocolate on this blog, to be quite honest with you. But I’m going to try and make up for it with this recipe for a White Chocolate and Vanilla Mousse.
I think what really prompted me to post this recipe was my most recent trip to Cost Plus World Market, where I found a big hunk of Callebaut white chocolate and whole vanilla beans on sale. This hunk of chocolate was just screaming mousse, and the end result was just heavenly. Is it too dramatic to call mousse heavenly? Well, I’m going to anyway. If you use whole vanilla bean in this recipe you will get these lovely black flecks throughout your mousse, but you can use vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract if that is what you have, and still get fantastic results.
And now the best part…nuts. Nuts are my favorite food accessory, if there is such a thing. I think everything tastes better with nuts in it or on it, especially desserts. The pistachios are the perfect companion to this velvety, delicate mousse; and I love the combination of creamy and crunchy together. I loved it so much in fact, that I ate three of these mousses. Oh, did I really just admit that.
White Chocolate & Vanilla Mousse
From Vanilla by Joanna Farrow
- 1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts
- 7 ounces (good quality, Callebaut or Valrhona) white chocolate, chopped
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon either vanilla bean paste, a whole vanilla bean or pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup plain yogurt
- 4 egg whites
- powdered sugar for dusting
- I purchased a bag of pistachio nut meats (at Trader Joe’s) so I did not have to shell the pistachios. If you cannot purchase them that way, make sure you take off all the brown skins. Then, transfer the nuts to a food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped. I then transferred the nuts to a strainer for a good shaking to get rid of all the nut dust.
- I then put the chopped chocolate in a medium-sized plastic bowl with 3 tablespoons of the cream and microwaved, first for 20 seconds; stirred, 15 seconds; stirred, 10 seconds, stirred, etc. This method of chocolate melting seems to work best for me. Naturally, you can try placing the bowl over a double boiler, bringing the water to a simmer and then turning the heat off and letting the chocolate melt until smooth.
- Using the whisk attachment on the electric mixer, lightly whip the remaining cream with the vanilla until very lightly peaking, then stir in the yogurt. Transfer mixture to another clean bowl. Clean out your mixer bowl very well and then dry. Beat the egg whites until just peaking.
- Fold the cream mixture into the melted chocolate, then gently fold in the egg whites. Spoon half the mousse mixture into 6 small glass dishes or cups (I got mine at Cost Plus World Market). Then sprinkle a layer of nuts, reserving some nuts to decorate the tops of the mousse. Add the remaining mousse and sprinkle with the reserved nuts. Chill for at least 2 hours and dust with powdered sugar just before serving.
Mama’s Tips: When melting white chocolate, be very careful not to overheat it (even for a few seconds) or it will turn into a gloppy mess.
The mini mousse’s will keep chilled in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Just cover with a piece of plastic wrap pressed on the surface of the mousse.
Cost Plus World Market has a great selection of mini serving glasses. If you don’t live near one of their retail stores, you can order from them online.
Last weekend my job was to bring a dessert to a friend’s wedding shower. I thought I had been handed quite a daunting task. I knew that if I was going to serve dessert to a group of women in Los Angeles that it would have to be in mini portions. Perfect. No problem. What better way to end a meal than with a rich, creamy, chocolatey mousse. Any three ounce vessel will work for the mini portion. Being the Mama that I am, it made me very happy to see that everyone had finished their desserts.
Mini Chocolate Mousse
From Tyler’s Ultimate
- 6 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped (good quality)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup chilled heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Bring about an inch or two of water to a simmer in a saucepan; put the chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl and set it over the pan. Stir with a wooden spoon until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. At no time can any water get into the chocolate or it will seize. Remove the bowl from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly. Then whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time until the mixture is smooth.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the whisk attachment until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1/4 cup of sugar until stiff peaks form.Gently transfer the egg white mixture to a grease-free bowl, and rinse the electric mixer bowl with very cold water.
- In the cleaned bowl of the electric mixer, beat the heavy cream until it begins to thicken. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and the vanilla and continue beating until the cream holds soft peaks.
- Next, stir a spoonful of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the rest. Next, fold in the whipped cream, do not overwork the mousse or it will become heavy. You can now evenly divide the mousse among your glasses. This recipe will serve 4 regular sized portions, or about 10 mini portions.
- Do not get any egg yolk into the egg whites, or stiff peaks will not form.
- Make sure all bowls and utensils used to whip egg whites are grease-free, or stiff peaks will not form.
- Do not get any water into chocolate, or the chocolate will seize.
It’s one of those dry, scorching Southern California summer days and I’m headed back to the valley through Malibu Canyon. What was once so green and lush has quickly turned brown and parched now that the rain has stopped, and summer is clearly here. Malibu Canyon is one of those places that’s been seemingly untouched since prehistoric times. It’s just jagged mountains, huge rocks and dried brush, really not much else. As I meander my way through the canyon, out of nowhere appears a strawberry stand. My eye is attracted to a giant hand-painted sign of a large, red strawberry. I figure, if you’re out in the middle of nowhere, the these must be some mighty fine strawberries this guy is selling. I pulled over to the side of the road, dust flying everywhere and approach the stand that seems like an oasis in the middle of a desert. Damn, these are some good looking berries…so I buy five baskets.
When life gives you berries, make mousse!
The Silver Palate Cookbook
2 1/2 pint baskets strawberries, stemmed, washed, drained
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
6 tablespoons boiling water
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Cointreau
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
additional strawberries for garnish
1.Combine strawberries, lemon juice and gelatin in the bowl of a food processor with a steel blade. Puree until smooth. Pour in boiling water and process again, briefly. Let mixture cool to room temperature.
2. In bowl of a mixer, beat egg yolks and sugar together until pale yellow and thick. Whisk in Cointreau and beat for another minute. Pour egg mixture into the top part of a double boiler and stir until slightly thickened, and hot to the touch. Cool to room temperature.
3. Combine strawberry and egg mixtures and chill until just beginning to set.
4. Whip cream to soft peaks and fold gently into chilled mousse mixture. You can spoon mixture into individual dessert glasses, or one large bowl. You could pipe into chocolate cups, or spoon over fruit. Chill for at least 4 hours.
Makes 8 to 10 portions
Ever since I was a little kid I’ve always been very crafty and artistic. When I was six years old I entered a drawing contest on the Gene London show, a Saturday morning children’s program. Anyone from Philadelphia growing up in the sixties should remember that show. Gene was a little odd to say the least. Anyway, first prize was a trip to Disneyland, and second prize was a box of “Sparkle Paints”. I won second prize. I was excited none-the-less.
I still like to make things with my hands. I love making these chocolate cups, I just do. Several years ago when we were making our final graduation dinner from culinary school, I made 225 of these cups for the dessert course. Since then, I seem to look for any reason or occassion to make them. I fill them with homemade ice cream, fresh fruit or a light, lemon-y mousse. Chocolate and lemon is one of my favorite flavor combinations, and it’s the perfect dessert for a warm summer evening.
I use the 5 ounce paper cups because the inside of the cup is waxed and it will peel off of the chocolate easily. Measure up from the bottom of the cup 2 1/4″, mark it, then with a sharp scissor, cut the top of the cup off. (For me the 5 ounce cup was just too large as is). You can use any good quality bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate to make the cup. Melt about 16 ounces of chocolate in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring well after each increment. When the chocolate is a smooth consistency, pour it into the cup, filling the entire cup, and then empty the excess back into the bowl. Place into the refrigerator to harden. Once hard, re-melt your chocolate and repeat the process giving the cups a second coat. Place back in the refrigerator to harden again.
To prepare cups for filling: Using a rubber band to secure it, wrap double thickness parchment paper around the cups so that it’s 1 1/2 inches above the top of the cup.
From Barefoot Contessa, Back To Basics
3 extra-large whole eggs
3 extra large eggs, separated
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the 3 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for about 15-20 minutes until the mixture is thick like pudding. Take off the heat and set aside for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate for about 1 1/2 hours, until completely chilled.
Place half the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat until the whites are stiff and shiny. Carefully fold the beaten whites into the cold lemon mixture with a rubber spatula. Place the cream in the same bowl of the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the lemon mixture.
Fill a pastry bag, fitted with a large round tip, with the lemon mixture. Pipe it into the prepared cups to the very top. Slide a knife over top of cup to take off excess so top is perfectly flat. Place in refrigerator for several hours to chill.
Right before serving, using a sieve, dust the top of the mousse with cocoa powder. Using a sharp scissor, cut the rubber band to release the parchment paper. Then, carefully snip the top of the cup and peel back the cup. Add any garnish of your choosing.
Makes 8 mousse cups