Just desserts

06-11-2017 Blog

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It was three years ago on an evening when I’d forgotten I’d invited two mates round for dinner. I was in the middle of a sleep deprived, toddler-wrangling fug and as the doorbell rang I got that sinking feeling of defeat. (Which was embellished, of course, with lots of intense swearing as I slung my Spongebob Square Pants slippers [a comedy Christmas gift from my sister] aside in embarrassed panic.)

 

After seeing me in my ‘inside’ jogging bottoms that dated back to 1996, our friends immediately realised the error of my ways and said they’d happily return another day when I was, perhaps, dressed and there was, perhaps, food on the table.

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But it was in that moment that I realised dinner with friends was just that. It was food with people you care about. It didn’t matter if it wasn’t a handmade smorgasbord of Michelin-starred nibbles; it didn’t matter if I was dressed for a date with the sofa. They stayed. We ate fish fingers, chips and peas and I crumbled Digestive biscuit onto a shop-bought cheesecake for a triumphant finish.

 

While I get genuine joy from making something from scratch (see below my mousse masterclass with Gü’s head chef Fred Ponnavoy), I’ve made peace with my love of embellishing something from the dessert aisle. And it’s not only for those increasingly rare soirees, it’s for the everyday moments when all you want is something – anything – that’s not meant for a child. Cue Gü Mousse Fusions – little multi-textured pots of pleasure.

 

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We’re talking indulgence – think chocolate and toffee mouse atop silky chocolate crème; mango mousse with punchy mango and passionfruit coulis and strawberry bubble mousse topped with a strawberry and balsamic compote – but without the ‘special occasion’, often guilt-laden tag.

 

It’s that moment when you’d ditched the bra, slipped into the circa 1996 jogging bottoms and settled into the crevices of the sofa ready for a Netflix onslaught and Matt, my husband says “want anything for dessert?”. YES. Yes, I do. I want something that’s not going to leave me feeling like I’ve face-planted a dessert trolley but also something that reeks of naughtiness.

 

I want something I can whip out quickly and is the sweet equivalent of a high five after a long day peppered with arguments about broccoli consumption and demands for Peppa Pig.

 

Just desserts, indeed.

 

 Whip ‘em out

 To delve deep into the world of mousse (arguably the happiest of places), Gü’s head chef Fred Ponnavoy popped over last week to show me how to whip up a mousse frenzy. From his grandmother’s traditional chocolate mousse with crunchy, nutty topping to a creamier, thicker mousse that is perfect stuffed into an éclair, Fred is the man that understands a sweet tooth.

 

09.03 Fred arrived and had a cuddle of Evie – she is a big fan of his work – before getting his mixing bowl out and explaining that texture is EVERYTHING in the mousse world.

 

09.34 We got cracking. Literally. Egg whites and sugar was whipped up and the intensely dark cocoa mass carefully folded into the mix. It’s a mesmerising technique – you fold from 12 o’clock down to 6 o’clock position and keep repeating until you have a creamy, light mousse. I watched, salivated and had a dip/huge scoop of the mixture. It’s everything a knackered, arguably deserving (keeping two small humans alive) mother could ask for.

 

10.01 The finish is essential. Fred had created a worryingly addictive hazelnut crunch to sit atop this mousse. I ate handfuls of the stuff before allowing a few pieces to grace the final dessert. The contrast of textures was key; think crunchy nuttiness against a creamy, rich chocolate mousse.

 

10.13 We ate it. We ate it all. Because ultimately life is too short not to eat the chocolate mousse. (And then lick the bowl.)

 

Fred’s Grandma’s Chocolate Mousse

The recipe for this mousse was handed down to Head Chef Fred by his grandmother Julienne. The recipe here adds a crunchy  topping of delicious chocolate crumble with a fresh fruity twist.

Chocolate mousse

You need:

110 g dark chocolate, (minimum 70 % cocoa solids), broken into pieces

65 g dark chocolate, (around  50 % cocoa solids), broken into pieces

115 ml whipping cream

50 ml milk

4 medium egg whites

30 g caster sugar

Method:

  • Bring the cream and milk to a boil in a small pan.
  • Remove from heat and drop in the chocolate pieces and stir until melted and smooth.
  • Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl with the sugar until it creates soft peaks.
  • Stir roughly 1/3 of the beaten egg white into the chocolate mixture, (this loosens the mixture and makes it easier to mix in) then carefully fold in the rest until completely mixed in.
  • Divide the mixture evenly between 6 pretty glasses or dishes, cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until chilled and set.

Chocolate crumble

You need:

60 g whole hazelnuts

50 g unsalted butter, softened

25 g demerara sugar

25 g light brown sugar

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

60 g plain flour

Method:

  • Preheat oven 170oC/130oC fan/275oF/Gas Mark 1.
  • Place the hazelnuts in a plastic bag and crush coarsely with a rolling pin.
  • Place the remaining ingredients in a bowl and rub together well, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then stir in the crushed hazelnuts.
  • Spread out evenly on a baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • Leave to cool then crumble into small pieces. Keep in an airtight container.

To serve:

Just before serving, sprinkle some of the chocolate crumble over the chocolate mousses. Serve with either fresh raspberries or a scoop of raspberry sorbet, or try adding some chopped fresh mint leaves

 

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