Thursday, December 07, 2006

Eggnog Mousse and Gingerbread Cake with Pecan Caramel Rum Sauce

This semester is coming to a close, and for our pastry class final exam, we were tasked with creating a plated dessert with three elements - one of which was required. Our required element was mousse, so in keeping with the season we decided to do a holiday themed dessert - a plate for Santa with a cup of eggnog mousse. The class is divided into five teams, and each team had to make one dessert for presentation, and four others to share with the group.

The original idea for the "Plate for Santa" was a cup of the mousse, some cookies and a slice of an Italian fruitcake confection called "panforte" - but one of our team members tested the panforte and we decided we didn't like it so much - so we switched to gingerbread. Just to be safe, our team got together this past weekend to test the recipes and do a "dry run" with our display. As a result of our testing, we decided the mousse had too much white chocolate flavor and not enough eggnog, and we added fresh ginger to the cake in place of the dried - which turned out to be a fantastic idea. We tested two caramel sauce recipes, and decided we liked one sauce better than the other - but we liked the nuts, so we added nuts to the sauce that we liked.

I made the cut out cookies using my favorite butter cookie dough that I made earlier this week (I baked it at 300 degrees so they wouldn't spread or brown) and the curly cookies are tuiles, which we learned to make in class. The cookie sticking out of the cup is also a tuile, flavored with cinnamon and a little molasses - the molasses colored it, and helped make it more flexible and easier to mold into the cinnamon stick shape.

When Chef Foran tasted our dessert, he liked the mousse so much he actually asked for the recipe. He was impressed that we had modified another recipe to come up with something original, and really liked the presentation with the glass cups. His only criticism was that there was too much whipped cream on top, which was my fault. I should have piped dollops on top instead of spreading it.

If I were going to make this at home, I'd probably shrink the portion sizes. You could also do either or, the gingerbread or the mousse just fine. I like the idea of the mousse by itself with cookies on the side too. The gingerbread recipe can be found here, on Epicurious, just substitute an equal volume of grated fresh ginger for the powdered. The sauce is here, we just added some chopped toasted pecans.
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Eggnog Mousse

1 packet of gelatin (2 1/4 tsp)
3 Tablespoons of whipping cream
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 cup of eggnog
4 oz of white chocolate (by weight)
3/4 cup of chilled whipping cream
1/4 tsp of nutmeg

Topping:
1/2 cup of chilled whipping cream
1 Tablespoon of powdered sugar
fresh grated nutmeg

Put one inch of water in a shallow pan and bring to a simmer. Set up a double boiler (preferably using a bowl) and melt the white chocolate - keep the water simmering. Set up an ice bath, and put your whipped cream bowl and beater in the freezer.

Stir together the gelatin and three tablespoons of cream together in a small bowl, and set in the shallow pan of simmering water to dissolve. (If your water isn't simmering,the gelatin will harden - as we learned the hard way.) Add the gelatin, egg yolks and eggnog to the white chocolate and whisk until dissolved. (It may have some lumps.) Remove from heat and stir in the nutmeg.

Sieve the mixture into a bowl and place in the ice bath. Stir until thickened to the texture of lemon curd. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Whip the 3/4 cup of cream to soft peaks. Gently fold the cream into the eggnog base -being careful not to overmix. It should be slightly foamy and creamy. Pipe or pour the cream into cups or bowls, and chill for at least an hour.

Just before serving, whip the remaining half cup of cream to soft peaks, sifting in the powdered sugar about halfway through. Top each serving with a dollop of the cream and some fresh grated nutmeg.

4 comments:

  1. Top of the class I would say

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  2. That eggnog mouse looks lovely thanks for the recipe and i really look forward to your recipe for the cinnamon stick tuile.

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  3. Tracy Norris12/8/06, 8:59 AM

    Very impressive, Alice! It looks delicious.

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  4. Nadia Campbell1/4/07, 7:09 PM

    Mousse was a little heavy but came out pretty well for all my eggnog drinkers.

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