mousse (no antlers)

Welcome to Kitchen Week!  This week’s posts will give you a glimpse into what goes on in my kitchen on the decorating side and, starting today, on the culinary side as well.

My friend Beth gave me the biggest, most amazing dessert-only cookbook for my birthday, and of the few recipes I’ve been able to conquer, one stands out: Frozen Milky Way Mousse.  If you can’t quite picture that, I’ll help you out.  Let’s go in stages (skipping some because there are a lot!).

The recipe dictates that the steps be completed in an order that just doesn’t make sense in my kitchen, so I freely adapted.  First I made sugar syrup in a small saucepan.  While that was boiling its way to goldeny deliciousness, I set my KitchenAid mixer to the task of whipping three egg whites and some cream of tartar into this:

Next I gradually poured in the syrup, which crystallized some–I’m guessing that’s because I didn’t let my eggs warm to room temperature before meringuing them.  I think the cold egg whites made the syrup cool too quickly.  Oh, well; it barely matters.
While the syrup was bubbling along and the mixer was whirring away, I was on the other side of the kitchen (a whole two steps away) chopping lots and lots of chocolate–bittersweet, unsweetened, and (of course) Milky Way minis.  I threw it all in my biggest mixing bowl with half a stick of butter, then subjected it to the powers of the microwave.
The recipe requires a double boiler, but I can’t even rig the acceptable substitute–a metal bowl hovering over a pan of water–because my pans are wide on top and my one metal bowl is narrow on the bottom.  Besides that, it had meringue in it at the time.  I try to work with what I’ve got and in this case that meant chocolate and butter got melty the modern way.
Then chocolate mess met meringue-plus-candy mix:
The recipe specifies adding the meringue in “two additions.”  I’m not sure why that’s the case, but I can comply with those instructions so I do.  Here’s the second addition in progress:
All that remained after this was to whip up some cream with a splash of homemade vanilla extract.  That also went into the chocolate in two additions.  Once everything was pretty well mixed (no visible white streaks) I scraped the contents of the bowl into a parchment-lined loaf pan.  (The recipe wanted a metal pan, but mine is glass, so again with the “what I’ve got” thing.)
I wrapped this tightly with plastic and popped it in the freezer for a good long while.  The recipe said at least six hours; it was more than that.  Then…
You can see there were still some white spots.  It was just whipped cream, no big deal.  I quit mixing when I quit seeing white; I could have mixed–or, I should say, folded–more but I was afraid to deflate the mousse.  The white may not lend itself to ideal presentation but it didn’t affect the taste at all.  And pretty soon it got blanketed anyway:
Lovely hubby, who shocks me repeatedly by not being a chocolate fiend like I am, thought this multi-chocolate confection was “missing something.”  I was in creamy, lightweight, ice-cold chocolate paradise, but no matter.  I snapped out of it and jumped online to find a recipe for peanut butter sauce.
Here’s the link to where I found a simple and satisfying answer to the conundrum of “something missing” from the flavor of our dessert.  I just poured approximately* 1/8 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar into a saucepan and stirred it until the sugar dissolved, then boiled for one minute.  Once syrupy (after the minute) I took the pan off the burner and added approximately 1/8 cup of creamy peanut butter.  It took some stirring to get it incorporated, and I’ll admit it looked unappealing for much of that stirring process.  But when it all got together, oh, my, my; I saw what he meant about the mousse needing a finishing touch.  Mm-mm-mm.
*”approximately” means that I filled my 1/4 cup measure (the smallest I have) to what looked like about the halfway point
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