No, I’m not in Oklahoma, I am still sheltering-in-place in California. In the Galaxy on Orion’s Belt post I mentioned I was going to remake the mousse desserts using Agar Agar rather than gelatin. Agar is a plant based thickener while gelatin is animal based. Well, the agar was delivered this week and as I and still sheltering-in-place, I am still baking, so here we go.
Last week Fran asked for some shortbread cookies so I made a batch this morning. I cut them into rounds, just smaller than the large end of my silicon hemisphere molds. The plan is to fill the mold about 2/3rds of the way with mousse, push a frozen vanilla cream into it and seal the bottom with the cookie. As I planned to coat one end of the shortbread cookies with chocolate, and will have some left over, I will coat the bottom of some of the hemisphere desserts with some, then mirror glaze them.
So the plan was good, but the execution was lacking. The cookies were too big so I cut them down, but they were also too thick. I couldn’t properly fill the mold with vanilla cream and cookie and still have 1/8” space for the chocolate. The new plan is to dip the bottom of the bombe in chocolate, re-freeze and then coat with the agar mirror glaze.
The agar mirror glaze was easy to make, but cooled too quickly and coated the bombes with a thick glaze. Luckily, this glaze, while sticky, was much better than the gelatin version. Portions of the glaze were placed in small bowls and dyed. When ready to coat the mousse bombes some of the colored glaze was poured on a larger aliquot of yellow glaze and poured over the bombe.
The good news is, Quality Assurance certified the mousse as exceptionally light and creamy. The cookies were a bit thick so it was suggested a pan of brownies would be a better base. The chocolate bottom was a nice addition and should be continued.
The directions for the agar agar said you should cool the glaze to 80 – 90 degrees. I found this temperature too low resulting in a thick glaze. I also need to find a better way to mix the various colors with the base color while maintaining the temperature of the dyed glaze at 90-100 deg, maybe place them in a warm water bath until ready to use.
Anyway, they are delicious and worth making!!
• 3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• ¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
- Roll the dough 1/4-inch thick and cut with a round cutter just smaller than the opening of the mold. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Vanilla Cream Filling
• 3 tbsp all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup milk (low fat is fine)
• 1/2 cup butter (or Trans fat-free shortening)
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 scraped vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Whisk together the flour and milk and cook in a small saucepan over medium heat until thick. This will only take a few minutes. Stir continuously to prevent the mixture from clumping and do not bring all the way to a boil. When thickened (consistency will be that of a thin pudding or custard), strain with a mesh strainer into a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool completely to room temperature.
- When the milk mixture is cool, cream the butter (or shortening) and sugar together in a medium bowl until light.
- Add in the milk/flour mixture and the scraped vanilla bean seeds (or vanilla extract) and beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 7 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Scrape into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip, or a large ziplock bag with the corner cut off, and set aside until ready to fill your cupcakes.
Dark Chocolate Mousse
• 5 1/4 ounces 148 g bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
• 14 ounces 396 g cold heavy cream
• 3 large egg whites
• 1-ounce 29 g sugar
• Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish, optional
• Shaved bittersweet chocolate, for garnish, optional
• 6 ounces 170 g semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1-ounce sugar 6 ounces semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- Place chocolate in a large bowl set over a bain marie or in a double boiler at a low simmer. Stir chocolate until melted. Turn off the heat and let stand.
- Beat the cream over ice until it forms soft peaks. Set aside and hold at room temperature.
- With a mixer, whip egg to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar and continue whipping until firm.
- Remove the chocolate from the bain marie and using a whisk, fold in the egg whites all at once.
- When the whites are almost completely incorporated, fold in the whipped cream.
- Fill each well of the hemispherical mold about halfway. Push a frozen vanilla cream drop in each well and top with a shortbread cookie. Make sure the cookie is below the top of the well.
- Place the mold in the freezer until solid.
- When frozen solid remove the mousse from the mold .
- Put 3 ounces of the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. (Don’t trust your microwave timer; time it with your watch.) Stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Add the remaining chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it’s completely smooth. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and slightly cooled; stirring makes it glossier.
- Coat the top of each cell with a thin coat (1/8”) with melted chocolate and return to the freezer to set.
Agar Mirror Glaze Recipe
• White Chocolate 8 ounces (220g)
• Sweetened Condensed Milk ½ cup (140g)
• Granulated Sugar 1 cup (200g)
• Corn Syrup ¾ cup (245g)
• Cold Water 7 tablespoons (100ml)
• HOT Water ½ cup (120ml)
• Powdered Agar 4 teaspoons (16g)
- Bloom agar in the HOT water (120ml), let stand 5 minutes
- Combine the corn syrup, the other measure of COLD water (100ml) and the sugar in a heavy bottom sauce pot and get it warmed to at least 150°F add the bloomed agar and bring to a boil.
- Allow it to boil rapidly for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and add the condensed milk and whisk smooth
- Pour the entire hot mixture over the chocolate and whisk smooth
- Pour through a strainer into a clean container and color as you like.
- Pour over cakes & pastries once it has cooled to 80 or 90°F