Monday, January 28, 2008

Chocolate Mousse on Caramel with Red Nettles

My entry for Art You Eat #1- Chocolate. Ok, this is probably the least creative idea there is when the task is to create edible art with chocolate. So I didn't get any more creative than chocolate mousse. But then I have never had good VEGAN chocolate mousse. I mean, making something that usually consists of copious amounts of eggs and cream with a little chocolate drizzled in using plant-based ingredients only... Creative in my book. Adventurous at least... I was curious to see if I could do it.

And the caramel net? I'm a big fan of Bridget Jones's Diary and laughed my heart out when Bridge tried to make something or the other in sugar cages for her birthday. I had never tried to make sugar cages and just wanted to tackle it.

The results? The sugar turned out quite caramelized which gave it a nice dark sheen. And the mousse... my oh my... I have a new vice...

Did it beautify my blog? Well.... My food photography skills are not very refined yet. But I had fun. And a new and oh so simple vegan dessert to show off with.

The Caramel Net

There are fancy ways to do this, with a candy thermometer and all sorts of things I don't have. I just melted 1 cup regular sugar over medium heat until it was all liquidy and caramelized, then jacked up the heat to high and let it bubble for a minute or two. Then I put a bowl into the sink (lest it would break and spill its contents all over my kitchen) and poured the hot hot hot caramel into it to prevent it from burning in the hot pot. This had the added advantage that I could just pop it into the microwave for a few seconds everytime it got too cool to work with.

I let the sugar cool for a few minutes, testing every once in a while if it would already form strings. Then I dipped the prongs of a fork into the sugar and let it drip in long thin strands onto some parchment paper to form a grid. Then I just let it cool and went shopping for vegan cream and chocolate.

The Chocolate Mousse

1 cup dark chocolate, melted
1 cup vegan whipping cream (I used Soyatoo)
1 tblsp cornstarch
1 teaspoon confectioner's sugar

I had never had vegan mousse nor tried to make any. The recipes I googled all used tofu, something I cannot come by easily. So I decided to give Soyatoo, an amazing vegan "whipping cream" a try.

The chocolate I used is an equally amazing organic fair-trade chocolate. Its only ingredients are cocoa mass, cocoa butter, and raw cane sugar. 85% of it is cocoa, that means it only contains 15% sugar. No added fats, no added nothing. Amazingly chocolate-y.

I melted the chocolate in a bowl in a pot with hot water, making sure the chocolate didn't get too hot, then let it cool to room temperature. I whipped the Soaytoo with the starch and the sugar until it was whipped-creamy, then added the chocolate, whipped it some more, transferred it to a nice bowl and trusted it to my fridge.

Onto the plate

I had envisioned my mousse on a glass plate, garnished with mint leaves and raspberrries. Unfortunately, my supermarket was out of mint plants but on my way home I found some edible, non-stingy red deadnettles. They normally blossom in spring and summer but this winter so far has been more like spring anyway so they were already out and blooming. Beautiful.

I placed the caramel grid on a glass dish. Then I used two spoons to form little oval "nockerl" and lovingly arranged them on their caramel bed. I had some raspberries join them and some red nettles to keep them company. And then I highjacked the whole plate to take pictures of it.

After the photo session I sat down with a nice cup of rooibos tea and enjoyed my piece of art. My verdict? As Saint-Exupery put it: "What is essential is invisible to the eyes." It was delicious :-)


Vaishali said...

This looks so beautiful and very creative. I have never tried soy whipping cream yet- I wasn't even aware it is available- but it definitely opens up many yummy possibilities. Thanks, Anke.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

That is gorgeous; *almost* too pretty to eat!

Rachel said...

Oh my god, a vegan chocolate mousse that doesn't contain silken tofu...that looks amazing. AND a quote from my favorite book in the world.

Anke said...

thanx, glad you all like it.

@ rachel: my favorite book EVER, too :-)

Anke said...

@chocolatecoveredvegan: if you are really trying to gain weight as your URL suggests, this is the way to go... I mean, this is (soy)-cream and chocolate ONLY. I bet it has a gazillion calories :-)

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Really nicely done - and an interesting account of how you went about it. Glad it tasted good, too!

Vegan_Noodle said...

Oh my goodness Anke, that is just beautiful!! The caramel net makes it so fancy and you definitely can't go wrong with chocolate mousse. Looks like a winner for sure. And I thought your photography skills were great...

Lizzy said...

Oh my I could throw myself in a bathtub full of this, open mouthed of course =p

Very very beautiful. And the best part of it is that it really is simple to make. Thanks a lot for expanding my dessert recipe collection =)

Ruby Red Vegan said...

Your caramel "net" is stunning! Now, THAT is art. Sounds like you have a winner with your chocolate mousse recipe. I never had mousse pre-vegan, but I did not like the tofu chocolate mousse I tried at Whole Foods. Soyatoo is a good idea... And you reminded me that I need to buy a can of that (for soy hot cocoa, my #1 comfort food!).

AYE Admin said...

Hi! Sorry it took me so long to get over here. I know I emailed you but I wanted to come see your entry in person. As I mentioned in my email I can't wait to try this for my son with the milk allergy. I think you've found a way he can have dessert with everyone else! Thanks again for entering it (and I do think it is beautiful!)

jaded said...

I made a dark chocolate mouse. Similar to this:

The avocado totally works. And it is really creamy and rich tasting. (With extra fiber and antioxidants!)