Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mango mousse

Here it finally is - the mango mousse so good that people with spoons attack me at parties, demanding another helping.

It's as easy as one two three and virtually foolproof - and while it's useful to have an electric egg beater, it's not necessary. Five ingredients - five ingredients is all it takes to make this smooth, velvety and refreshing dessert.

The recipe is my own, adapted from my mother's recipe for grape mousse, which was given to her by a friend of hers decades ago.

Here's the cast of characters:
Mango juice - 1 2/3 cups
Lemon juice - 1 lemon, or 1/4 cup
Granulated sugar - scant 1/4 cup (50 grams)
Knox unflavored gelatine - 1 packet
Heavy cream - 1 cup

The quality of the juice matters. Try to find one with as much mango content as possible. It should be thick and intense, not watery sweet. As a rule of thumb, I stick to juices in jars, not plastic or paper containers. Don't skimp on the juice.
You will need to whip the cream, so half and half will not make the cut. It has to be heavy cream; fat content over 30%.
While I love brown sugar, I would not recommend it for this recipe - you need a clean light sweetener.

This recipe makes about 4 wine glasses of mousse - and the recipe can very easily be doubled or tripled.

Measure out 400ml, or 1 and 2/3 cups of juice. Making mousse is chemistry, so don't get your measurements wrong. This is not the time to be casual with numbers. 

In a small bowl or glass, sprinkle in one packet of Knox gelatine. (Can someone tell me why Knox spells gelatin with an e at the end?)

Pour about half a cup of juice over the powdered gelatin and briskly mix with a fork. Leave for at least five minutes while the gelatin absorbs the liquid. It will still look grainy, but there shouldn't be any dry lumps. 

In the meanwhile, freshly squeeze the juice of one lemon, removing seeds and pulp. 

Add the sugar to the remaining juice and warm up over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. (You can also nuke it in the microwave; it took me about 3 minutes - but keep an eye on it.) The juice will be too hot to touch, but should not be boiling. 

Add the lemon juice and stir. 

Add about half a cup of the hot juice to the gelatin mixture and stir very very well. Then pour the gelatin mixture back in the the hot juice and stir well again. The heat should melt the gelatin completely.

Leave aside until cool enough to touch. 

Beat the heavy cream until very fluffy. I used an electric beater on low for a couple of minutes, so it shouldn't take long even by hand. Do not overdo it - as you see, I am on the verge of over-beating the cream - that is when it starts breaking up instead of being one creamy mass. 

The cream should, however, be stiff enough to stand on its own without dripping. 

When the juice has cooled enough to touch (about body temperature or a bit higher), pour about a third of it in the cream and mix until smooth. (No, do not use an electric beater for this, just a normal whisk is fine.) 

It will look like this. Add another third and mix.

 Then the remainder. Mix until incorporated. 

Pour into glasses, jars, or one large bowl and chill immediately. Small glasses may take 4 to 6 hours, while a large bowl will take overnight to solidify. 
As you can see, the liquid starts separating; the lighter cream to the top, the heavier juice to the bottom. How it will separate - in two layers, in three, or none at all, depends on the temperature of the juice when you mix it with the cream and the temperature of the fridge where you chill it. The colder it is, the less it will separate - the gelatin will solidify before the liquid has enough time to separate. The hotter it is, the more time there is for it to separate before solidifying. 

I'm not picky about how many layers I get or don't get. But if you want a smooth unseparated mousse, I suggest that you add the juice to the cream not at body temperature, but at room temperature, and put it immediately in the coldest part of your fridge. 


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