Let's talk about Mousse!
So today I wanted to talk about Mousse!
I mean MOUSSE
Chocolatey, airy goodness.
I love chocolate mousse, its rich and decadent but it's so light and silky and just overall great. If I make a batch of chocolate mousse generally there isn't much left by the end of the day between my family and my boyfriend - and if there is it's not long before my cousins and friends find out.
I've got a chocolate mousse recipe that is tried and tested, and very well received by my customers. But it wasn't until about a week ago when my little sister asked if I could make Nutella Mousse instead, that I realised - a lot of people don't know what to look for in mousse recipe, because there were a lot of recipes out there that were just lacking.
Almost every recipe I looked at for Nutella Mousse was missing either egg whites or cream, some where missing both. The very definition of Mousse is a sweet or savoury dish made as a smooth, light mass where the main ingredients are whipped cream and whipped egg whites.
So I'm sure your face looks a little like mine - how can you make mousse without the main ingredients??
Well most of them will turn to whipped cream and gelatine to give the mousse the right texture. That's all well and good, except that the mousse still wont have the right texture because there isn't enough air incorporated into the mixture.
I kind of feel like I'm becoming a walking text book with the post but I want to assure you that I am no expert at making Mousse - just a baker who is quite logical. Also someone who has consumed more chocolate mousse than most people do on a yearly basis - but that's another story for another time.
So back to my quest. I decided that none of the recipes were worth trying - so instead I would alter my own recipe. The recipe I started with a long time ago was a Donny Hay recipe which you can find here! I love this recipe because I've always had success with it, but being me I've played around with it - adding a little extra chocolate to the mix, changing the type of meringue I've used, mixing up the order of ingredients.
I feel like the recipe I now use is now completely my own since I've made so many changes, although I think I've turned into my grandmother who doesn't write a single thing down - because seriously I can't find a single place I've written it down. So instead of a recipe I'm going to give you guys a bit of advice on finding a good recipe and/or a few tips and tricks I've learnt along the way!
- A mousse recipe MUST contain cream AND egg whites for it to have the right texture.
Make sure you whip these in separate clean bowls until they're holding stiff peaks. But be careful - don't overwhip the cream and make butter like I have multiple times!
- Use a nice clean bowl, and whip your egg whites until they're as stiff as can be.
Making sure they're super stiff ensures that you don't loose too much air when folding it in to the mixture.
- Add a little Sugar and/or Cream of Tartar to your Egg Whites
Most Chocolate Mousse recipes, Donna Hay's included, call for just a little bit of sugar to be added to the egg whites. By adding the sugar you're essentially creating a meringue which is a little more stable. I always personally add a pinch (or two) of Cream of Tartar to my egg whites whenever I'm whipping them because it does create a much more stable meringue.
- Incorporate the whipped cream and THEN the egg whites
I kinda worked this out the hard way; egg whites deflate very quickly, and the cream needs to be folded through quite vigorously to make sure the it is evenly distributed. Some recipes will tell you to fold the egg whites in first, but I ignore that and do it my own way. I had my sister telling me that there was something odd about the consistency of my Chocolate Mousse a few times - it was more like yoghurt than airy heaven and I wasn't sure why. When I next made a batch of Chocolate Mousse I realised I'd been following the recipe down to the T - and that was my problem.
- Make sure your eggs are at room temperature
This is a big one generally (honestly I'm lazy and never do this because my family insists that eggs belong in the fridge even though they're find on a shelf), because it can make your ingredients curdle from the temperature difference. With Mousse I find that it's important to have room temperature eggs because when you add the egg yolks to the still warm chocolate/butter mixture - it seizes up and becomes a little grainy. This is because you are adding a liquidy substance to the chocolate at a completely different temperature. If this happens it can be saved! let it sit and cool a little longer and then fold through your whipped cream. It'll take a little longer to distribute evenly but it will come back together normally.
- Watch your whipped cream
If you have been following my blog for a little, or you just know me, you'd know that I've accidentally made butter a few times because I walked away from my stand mixer and just forgotten my cream. Don't do that. At least not while making mousse - you'll just have to get more cream out and start again if it happens!
- Add a little icing sugar to your whipped cream
I find a little bit of icing sugar, and sometimes a hint of vanilla, really helps stabilise the cream and really bring out the chocolate flavour
- Unless you really love Dark Chocolate, use Milk Chocolate
Know your audience, my family likes dark chocolate but in a mousse it's just a little too intense for them. So I've settled on Milk Chocolate as my fan favourite. I use the same amount of chocolate, just use what you prefer. This also works for White Chocolate!
- Add a little Gelatin
Now I'm not a huge fan of using gelatin in my desserts, BUT I have come to accept that a hot summer in Sydney and dairy based desserts do not go very well without a little gelatin. I found this to be the key to ensure that it sets firm, it's consistency doesn't change, and that it really just doesn't melt. I personally use gelatin powder, mainly because that's the easiest for me to use and find, although I have used gelatin sheets before and I think I kinda prefer to use that.
If you're using powder, make sure that you use about a teaspoon or so worth of gelatin, mix it with hot water as per the instructions and then let it cool. If you don't let it cool you're essentially throwing boiling water into a mixture of raw eggs and cream - not good. Make sure it's cool but not firm, if it's a little firm add a bit more warm water until it just looks like murky water and then throw it in and mix it. If you throw it in too early the difference in temperature causes the gelatin to seize and you'll end up with clumps of rubbery gelatin in your mousse. This happened to me once and my boyfriend came to me with a sad look on his face, placed is cup down and just looked at me and said "What. is this. THIS isn't chocolatey goodness" - lesson learnt.
Next time I made chocolate mousse, I promise I'll stop myself and measure things before I throw them in so that you can give it a go.
Hope this finds you well
- Kat xx
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