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White Chocolate Mousse with a Valentine’s Touch

How often have you heard of perfectly competent cooks and bakers saying that they’re too scared to attempt making macarons? Have they got cold feet or something?

Cold feet? Macaron feet, happy feet and a warm heart

When they do finally attempt making them, I love how so many of them post excited messages on the Facebook page. You know the one that appears the most? “My macarons have feet!” You’ve no idea how much I want to dance too, knowing that some of that feel-good-macaron-feet pleasure has been spread.

It may be chilly with sub-zero temperatures outside Paris, but this warms the heart no end. This week some of you asked how to pipe out macaron hearts. It’s easy peasy. Just imagine you’re making a ‘V’ shape in 2 lines. Do it quite quickly: push down a bit more mixture at first at the top of each line and taper off coming down.  As the mixture spreads out slightly on the baking sheet you’ll see it come together.

How to make macaron hearts

Instead of filling the macaron hearts, they’re also handy as a garnish for desserts.

For a romantic dessert, try this Hermé-style simplistic version of rose mascarpone cream served on a giant rose macaron and topped with fragrant raspberries (recipe on p.109 in the book.) There’s only one problem: many of you are lucky enough to have red fruits in season just now but here there are no blooming raspberries around due to these Siberian winds – or at least worth buying them at an extraordinary cost and with no flavour. So I attempted something different.

raspberry rose macaron dessert

With the snow initially as inspiration, I remembered the Merveilleux pâtisserie from Un Dimanche à Paris with Mardi of EatLiveTravelWrite. It was basically a meringue coated with cream, infused with rose and orange flower water (although I didn’t really taste it enough), and rolled in white chocolate. Although I’m not the biggest fan of white chocolate, I chose it because it didn’t just look pretty but it was also deliciously light. Besides, I adore rose and orange blossom.

So with all this in mind, I’ve come up with a light, fragrant, snowy mousse for you that’s not too sweet: it’s a quick and easy gluten free dessert.

What is it about rose that makes it so Valentine friendly?  I adore this addition of the orange blossom. Heating the white chocolate in the pan with a little of the cream makes melting it so much easier – especially if you’re unsure of the quality of your chocolate. The meringue crunch comes from the macaron heart and the dosage of orange blossom and rose counteracts the sweetness of the chocolate and is just enough to send your Valentine into a billowy, romantic cloud. Accompany this with glass of chilled Muscat.

white chocolate mousse

White Chocolate Mousse

White Chocolate Mousse with Rose and Orange Blossom

Serves 4 big glasses or 8 mini portions

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Chilling Time: At least 20 minutes

300ml whipping cream
120g white chocolate (+ 20g grated for decoration)
1 tbsp rose water
1/2 tbsp orange flower water
1 egg white

1. Place a mixing bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes (I just put it outside – brrr!)

2. Meanwhile, break 120g of the white chocolate into a saucepan and heat very  gently together with 50ml of the cream, rose and orange flower waters. As soon as it’s melted (after about 5 minutes), set aside to cool slightly.

2. Using an electric beater, whisk the rest of the cream with the egg white to medium-firm peaks. Gradually pour in the melted chocolate mixture and continue whisking until completely mixed together.

3. Pour into individual serving glasses and sprinkle on the grated white chocolate. Set aside in the fridge until needed.

Halve the quantities if you’re serving just for a romantic couple but this does keep easily until the next day in the fridge.

You could also serve this with macarons; if you don’t have cold feet!

white chocolate mousse

Update: I’m so thrilled to see my recipe tried, tested and approved by Gourmantine’s Blog in her marathon to find the best chocolate mousse:

Well, I think anyone thinking this way should be sent a pot of this white chocolate treat by wonderful Jill Colonna, and I am most certain they will have an epiphany.

When I first saw this recipe posted on her fabulous blog “Mad about Macarons” (and I tell you, her macarons are truly to die for..), I couldn’t wait to make it, and chocolate mousse marathon seemed more than appropriate for it.

To be honest, the dark chocolate loving judge panel put the final fight for the best of the best title between recipes essentially out of dark chocolate, but this wonder was considered a champion in it’s own category and does deserve a special mention…Just for the record, it tastes better than it looks…this one is definitely going to the top of my all time favorites.”

White Chocolate Mousse with Rose and Orange Blossom
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

The lightest white chocolate mousse recipe with a touch of rose and orange blossom water to make even those who don't like white chocolate love this mousse!

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Servings: 8
Calories: 211 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 300 ml whipping cream
  • 120 g white chocolate + 20g grated for decoration
  • 1 tbsp rose water
  • 1/2 tbsp orange flower water
  • 1 egg white
Instructions
  1. Place a mixing bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes (I just put it outside - brrr!)
  2. Meanwhile, break 120g of the white chocolate into a saucepan and heat very  gently together with 50ml of the cream, rose and orange flower waters. As soon as it's melted (after about 5 minutes), set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Using an electric beater, whisk the rest of the cream with the egg white to medium-firm peaks. Gradually pour in the melted chocolate mixture and continue whisking until completely mixed together.
  4. Pour into individual serving glasses and sprinkle on the grated white chocolate. Set aside in the fridge until needed.
Recipe Notes

Halve the quantities if you're serving just for a romantic couple but this does keep easily until the next day in the fridge.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Poached Coffee Vanilla Pears – with Mocha Macarons

I’m sure we’re not alone with these poached coffee vanilla pears. How many times have you looked for a elegant  dessert but it has to be super light – perhaps even gluten free – but above all, simple but effective for entertaining?

After our fill of Christmas puddings, pumpkin pies, yule logs, mince pies, fruit cakes and chocolates in all forms, who’s ready to start all over again to bring in the New Year with yet more gastronomic pleasures? Count me in, as long as it’s slightly lighter this time. This would be lovely for Easter, too!

poached coffee vanilla pears

Light Desserts vs Heavy Rich Holiday Puddings

When entertaining the French, it took me a few years to work out that menus need to be planned carefully; if I’m serving a large main course after an amuse-bouche (something small to tickle the tastebuds before the meal) then starter/hors-d’oeuvres – and then it’s followed with an ambitious taste-of-the-regions cheese board – it can be difficult keeping up when a heavy finale to the meal is served. I used to love doing that and soon learned quickly.

The French could have a crise cardiaque (heart attack) if they see a large pudding arrive, piled high on their plate and since they’re polite, they wade through it and suffer in silence. I’m now the same. Have you ever had that feeling of just being so stuffed that you’re kicking-yourself-for-being-so-greedy uncomfortable?

French Chef Inspiration

For light dessert inspiration, I pounced straight away on Anne-Sophie Pic’s French cookbook, Recettes Pour Recevoir. The Michelin-starred chef has put together her cooking lessons for ideal recipes aimed at entertaining. What I loved about her poached pears in blackcurrant and vanilla was that she uses a lot of poaching liquid, which makes it so much easier to make this recipe a success, as the pears should be poached completely in the liquid without any little bit sticking out.

Moreover, it’s a perfectly light and chic end to a meal. It can also be beautifully peared (sorry!) with macarons.

My first try with the cassis macaron – terrible photo!

Developing the Recipe

That would definitely keep my French friends happy. But I can’t just copy a recipe from a cookbook. I had to make my own version that’s easy to make at home with less of the steps. So, I inversed the flavours: her side-dish of a fondant au café and vanilla tuile was replaced by a tutti-frutti blackcurrant macaron (see p.83 of Mad About Macarons!) and the blackcurrant poaching sauce was replaced by a coffee sauce. My first try. Shame about the presentation! However, dead easy and the dessert was now totally gluten-free (however, if you do love gluten like me, then make the tuiles from my 2nd book, Teatime in Paris!)

Macarons are great for accompanying desserts, since they can be made a few days in advance (or even frozen and taken out the freezer 1 hour before serving at room temperature) so you can stay zen while preparing the rest of the meal.

By serving a light dessert like this, nobody feels the need to stuff themselves more than they wish. The paradox is that when you do serve them on a large platter in the middle of the table, I’ve noticed that guests tend to eat much more than they were intending. But hey, that’s their problem. I’m no longer responsible for their hidden macaronivore tendencies…


Poached Coffee Vanilla Pears

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20+20 minutes
Calories per portion:
208 KCal

150g (5oz) sugar
1 litre (34 fl oz) water
1 vanilla pod/bean, cut lengthways
2 tbsps coffee granules
4 large firm pears (Conference, Williams, Comice)

  1. Boil the sugar with the water, vanilla and coffee in a heavy based casserole dish or saucepan with a lid. Once boiling, turn down the heat.
  2. Peel the pears and cut them in half horizontally. Place them completely in the syrup and poach them gently with lid on for 20 minutes.
  3. Drain the pears using a slotted spoon, set aside and chill.
  4. Boil up the coffee syrup for about 20 minutes until concentrated and thickened.

I usually place the leftover coffee syrup in a jam jar, sealed in the fridge. Over the next few days, just heat it gently and pour over ice cream.

Serve with chocolate-coffee macarons (simply add 2 tbps of granulated coffee to the heating cream while making your classic chocolate ganache. Recipe on page 47 of Mad About Macarons!) Or infuse the bruised seeds from 4 cardamom pods to the coffee poaching liquid, remove, and serve with chocolate, cardamom & ginger macarons (see page 56 of Mad About Macarons!)

Indulge…

poached coffee vanilla pears

Poached Coffee Vanilla Pears
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

An easy yet elegant dessert that just happens to be healthy and also gluten free. Serve with macarons for the ultimate treat!

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 208 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 150 g / 5oz sugar
  • 1 litre 34 fl oz water
  • 1 vanilla pod/bean cut lengthways
  • 2 tbsps coffee granules
  • 4 large firm pears Conference, Williams, Comice
Instructions
  1. Boil the sugar with the water, vanilla and coffee in a heavy based casserole dish or saucepan with a lid. Once boiling, turn down the heat.
  2. Peel the pears and cut them in half horizontally. Place them completely in the syrup and poach them gently with lid on for 20 minutes.
  3. Drain the pears using a slotted spoon, set aside and chill.
  4. Boil up the coffee syrup for about 20 minutes until concentrated and thickened.
  5. I usually place the leftover coffee syrup in a jam jar, sealed in the fridge. Over the next few days, just heat it gently and pour over ice cream.
Recipe Notes

Serve with chocolate-coffee macarons (simply add 2 tbps of granulated coffee to the heating cream while making your classic chocolate ganache. Recipe on page 47 of Mad About Macarons!) Or infuse the bruised seeds from 4 cardamom pods to the coffee poaching liquid, remove, and serve with chocolate, cardamom & ginger macarons (see page 56 of Mad About Macarons!)

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com