Introduction to mousses (and yoghurt mousse recipe)

I always planned to move on to mousses this week, and by chance my dear friend Anne sent me the Mamamia blogger competition in conjunction with Rachel’s gourmet yoghurt.

I decided against entering in the end after reading the T&Cs closely, but did play around with a recipe using yoghurt as the basis for a mousse.

To take a step back, mousses generally comprise four components – the base, the egg foam, a setting agent and whipped cream.

  • Bases are the flavour element to the mousse and can be fruit purees, custards or ganache.
  • Egg foams will add lightness and volume to the mousse – Italian meringue or pâte á bombe (made from egg yolks and cooked sugar) are most commonly used.
  • The most common setting agent is gelatin although agar agar can be used as a vegetarian substitute.
  • Finally, whipped cream contributes to a mousse’s rich, creamy texture.

Over the next few weeks I’ll explore the different mousse types including Bavarian creams, fruit mousses and of course chocolate mousse.

In the meantime, I’ve included some tips for using sheet gelatin and also the recipe I developed for the competition using yoghurt instead of cream.

Tips for using sheet gelatin

Gelatin sheets can be purchased at specialty stores (I actually got mine at ASDA once!) and are generally easier to use than powdered gelatin. Ratios are usually 1 leaf for 100ml of cream or puree.

You simply need to soak the sheet of gelatin in a bowl of cold water and leave for 5 minutes. Lift out of the water and either add to warm liquid, or if the mixture is cold you’ll need to melt the softened sheet gently in a saucepan.

One big tip – always add your mixture to the gelatin rather than the other way round.

Yoghurt mousse with gingersnap base

Rachel’s yoghurt is one of those products where the fruit puree and the yoghurt are separated in the tub. This is very handy because it essentially removes a couple of the processes when making mousse. It’s also low-fat which can only be a good thing!!

I loved the idea of the black plum and roasted fig flavour combination so decided to add ginger for a bit of extra spice.

Black plum and roasted fig yoghurt mousse
Black plum and roasted fig yoghurt mousse

2 x 560g tubs Rachel’s black plum and roasted fig yoghurt
5 x gelatin leaves*
1 packet gingernut biscuits, crushed
100g melted butter
Glace ginger to decorate

Pour the yoghurt into a large bowl but reserve the fruit puree from one of the tubs.

Bloom the gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes, then transfer to a saucepan to melt over a very low heat.

Let the pan cool slightly, then pour the yoghurt in a mix well.

Make the base by incorporating the crushed biscuits with the melted butter. Spoon 2 tbsps of mixture into 6 individual moulds (I made mine using PVC piping) then press down.

Place a spoonful of the reserved fruit puree onto the biscuit base.

Pour over the yoghurt mix, then refridgerate for 4-6 hours.

Carefully remove the mousses from the moulds, and top with finely shredded glace ginger.

*Rachel’s yoghurt has pectin listed as one of its ingredients which must be used as a setting agent for the puree. I didn’t want the mousse to be too solid, so reduced to 5 gelatin leaves that will hopefully set the yoghurt.

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Macaron mediocrity

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So this is my last week of biscuits and second attempt at making Parisian macarons.

I will preface this by saying that this blog is about learning – so that means that not everything works our perfectly every time.

My first attempt, as part of a ganache post, was an absolute disaster. They totally bled out during the cooking process and browned too much on the top. I can only put this down to having the oven too hot and also not letting them sit long enough to form their “feet”.

There are so many posts and articles out there about how to make the perfect macaron and one of the best is this ebook – http://issuu.com/helened/docs/demystifyingmacarons

This has basically every tip you’ll ever need to I won’t try to sound like an expert rehashing it all – I’ll just tell you my actual experience.

Starting with basics, macarons are made from almond meal, icing sugar, plain sugar, eggs whites and food colouring.  They are essentially meringues, and are derived after the Italian word for meringue “macarone”

The flavour usually comes from the filling which can range from chocolate ganache, jam or buttercream. I had some coffee buttercream leftover from a cake I’d baked over the weekend so decided to make chocolate flavoured macarons to go with it.

Chocolate adds another dimension to macarons because of the cocoa so the recipe is slightly different to the traditional macaron which just incorporated powdered food colouring.

I followed Helene’s advice and adapted the recipe, then set about making the batter.

The first time I made the macarons, I did a lovely job of marking out perfect circles on my baking paper to make sure I had perfectly consistent macarons.

This time I wasn’t expecting them to work so just piped freehand. I let them rest for 1 hour before baking at 150 degrees for 18 minutes.

They looked pretty good going into the oven, but unfortunately didn’t give me the rise I was after. Did I overwork the egg whites? Or perhaps knocked too much air out of them when I mixed in the dry ingredients.

They were also crunchy rather than chewy which was disappointing – overcooked? Too high heat?

While a better outcome that my first attempt, these are far from perfect so I can only hope that practice makes perfect.

Does anyone have any tips for me? I’d like to give them another go sometime soon so would appreciate any advice (over and above Helene’s of course).

On to mousses next week so hopefully they will work out better for me 🙂

Salted caramel shortbreads

Salted caramel shortbread
Salted caramel shortbread

I think I’m starting to sound a bit obsessed with salted caramel now, but to be honest it’s the only way I can handle really over-the-top sugary sweets.

I’ve never been a big fan of caramel shortbread, also known as millionaires’ shortbread, because it makes my teeth ache.

However, I was looking to do another sheet biscuit (after my chocolate brownies) and this had been my husband’s favourite sweet treat since childhood.

I knew I wanted to make the caramel salty, but hadn’t realised until I went searching that most recipes called for condensed milk.

I’ve always made caramel using sugar, butter, cream and then some liquid glucose to help it set. I tried to search around for pros and cons for each method but couldn’t find any. I’m assuming boiled condensed milk is a bit less temperamental than melted sugar? Can anyone enlighten me?

Anyway, back to the recipe – the shortbread layer is simply a combination of flour, sugar and butter that is mixed well and then baked.

The caramel filling is then poured over the cooled shortbread and left to sit for a while before smothering in melted chocolate.

You really need to eat this in small doses because it’s extremely rich but incredibly good!

Salted caramel shortbread

Shortbread

185g butter
80g caster sugar
250g plain flour

Caramel

170g butter
80g caster sugar
3tbsp golden syrup
300ml sweetened condensed milk
1tsp salt

Topping

150g milk or plain chocolate, chopped

To make the shortbread

Pre-heat an oven to 180 degrees and line a 18x27cm tin with baking paper.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then slowing mix in the flour. When it forms a ball, press it into the base of the cake tin.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool.

To make the caramel filling

Melt the butter, sugar, syrup and condensed milk in a saucepan over a medium heat. When the sugar has dissolved and the butter melted, turn the heat up to a rapid boil for 5 minutes.

The caramel should be a dark golden colour and have started to thicken.

Pass it through a sieve to remove any lumps, then set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Pour the caramel over the shortbread base and leave for sit for an hour.

Melt the chocolate, then pour over the caramel. Leave overnight in a cool place to set.

Passionfruit posset with coconut tuiles

Passionfruit posset with coconut tuiles
Passionfruit posset with coconut tuiles

I was pretty nervous about this post because tuiles always seem to create drama on the cooking shows I watch – they looked very fiddly and very fragile.

French for the word “tile” tuiles are thin, curved biscuits often used to add texture or decoration to plated desserts or mousses.

They are made from a batter/paste comprising flour, egg whites, sugar and butter. You can then add a number of different flavourings including nuts, seeds and things like chocolate and vanilla.

The batter itself is dead easy – it’s the moulding and templating that’s tricky.

Some people make templates by cutting shapes out of ice-cream container lids or other plastics, but you can also try to create your shapes freeform with a steady hand and a small pallet knife.

The trick is to make sure you shape the tuile when it’s still soft but not immediately out of the oven. It needs to start solidifying or else it will just fall apart if still too warm.

Coconut tuiles
Coconut tuiles

I wanted a coconut tuile to go with my passionfruit posset, and found a Gordon Ramsay recipe that worked perfectly.

Coconut tuiles

50g unsalted butter
85g desiccated coconut
85g icing sugar, sifted
25g plain flour
2 medium egg whites

Melt the butter, then leave until cool, but still runny. Preheat the oven to fan 160C/ conventional 180C/gas 4 and line a baking sheet with non-stick silicone.

Whizz the coconut in a food processor until finely ground, but not powdery. Whizz in the icing sugar and flour, then the egg whites followed by the cooled butter – you should have a smooth, slightly runny paste. Scoop this out into a bowl.

Put a teaspoon of the mixture on the silicone and spread with the back of a dessertspoon into a neat thin 7cm round. Alternatively, place a round stencil on the silicone and scrape the mixture flat in the hole with a palette knife. Shape 3-4 at a time, leaving space between.

Bake in batches for 7 minutes each, until pale golden around the edges. Remove and scrape off on to a wire rack to cool. To shape, press each one over a rolling pin as it cools.

Passionfruit posset

A posset is a classic cream-based set dessert flavoured with citrus fruits like lemon, lime and passionfruit. The citrus component is actually what thickens and sets the cream.

600ml double cream
100g sugar
8 tbsp passionfruit pulp, (sieved)
2 tbsp lemon juice

In a saucepan, melt the sugar into the cream  over a low heat. Turn the heat up and boil rapidly for three minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and add the passionfruit and lemon juice. Stir until it thickens.

Pour into ramekins, then leave it to sit for 10 minutes.

Place in the fridge for 4-6 hours.