Sinfully simple and sweet blackberry mousse

I’m a bit of a hoarder.

You see, I loathe throwing out anything, and it takes enormous strength to force myself to do a monthly purge of my possessions. Nothing major, but those little scribbled notes, receipts, blog post ideas, rants, thoughts, empty make up containers – you know what I mean.

Unfortunately, I’m also a terrible hoarder when it comes to the fridges and freezers…which means that they also need a thorough inspection every month or so.

This time round, I discovered a bag of terribly frost-bitten blackberries stuck to the back of one of the freezers (ONE – we have THREE! One as part of the main fridge, a separate one, and a freezer drawer in our kimchi refrigerator!). I had no idea when I had actually acquired these mystery blackberries, but seeing as I’d discovered them in the middle of winter (when there is a severe lack of berries around), I decided that they needed to be used.

But how?

A quick search thanks to google resulted in more recipes for tarts, jellies and jams than I cared for, and the few that I randomly read didn’t do much to perk my interest. Whilst the jellies didn’t do anything for me, I wondered whether I could find a nice mousse recipe that would titillate the mental tastebuds and managed to find one that did not use raw egg yolks so decided to give it a go.

Well, the mousse tasted divine, but it was missing a little something. The smooth texture needed to be punctuated with a little crunch, and though the recipe originally had them served with tuiles, I didn’t feel like baking so needed a little something else.

I can’t say whether it was ‘divine inspiration’, or just sheer dumb luck, but deciding to follow the idea to make a crushed praline to sprinkle on top of the mousses proved to be the perfect touch. The sweetness of the praline countered the slight sour and tart notes of the berries, and the softness of the mousse was beautifully balanced by the crushed almond and toffee.

Not only that, but it made the dishes look quite spectacular!

So if you’re looking for a little berry inspiration, let me recommend this dish – just a little effort results in quite a gorgeous and tasty treat :)

Blackberry Mousse with Crushed Almond Praline
(Idea from BBC’s ‘Ready Steady Cook‘)

Blackberry Mousse Ingredients (recipe from Food & Wine)
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
1 cup blackberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg white
3/4 cup heavy cream

1. Place 1 tbsp of water in a small bowl and sprinkle to gelatin over it and let it stand for about 5 minutes to ‘bloom’ (to swell up and soften).

2. In a blender, puree the blackberries with the remaining 2 tbsp of water and strain through a fine sieve into a small saucepan – you should have approximately 3/4 cup puree at this stage. Stir the sugar through, and slowly bring it to a boil. Boil for about 3-5 minutes or till slightly reduced, then stir in the softened gelatin till dissolved. Set aside to cool down.

3. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg white till firm, then immediately fold into the cooled berry puree using a large silicone spatula till no white streaks remain. In a seperate bowl, beat the cream till softly whipped, then fold the cream into the berry mixture till smooth and streak-free.

4. Carefully spoon the mousse into glasses, then carefully but sharply tap the bottom of the glasses against the counter to flatten the top of the mousse. Refrigerate for about an hour to set and chill.

5. Remove from refrigerator 5 minutes before serving, and garnish with crushed praline, berries, chocolate shards or anything else you desire!

Almond Praline Ingredients
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp glucose/white corn syrup
2/3 – 1 cup blanched almonds

Combine sugar, water and glucose in a small saucepan and bring to a boil without stirring. Once it has started boiling, swirl the mixture in the pan occasionally till the sugar has completely dissolved. Once it begins to colour/turn amber, swirl the mixture so it colours evenly.

When the mixture has reached a lovely golden/light amber colour, turn off the heat and quickly stir in the almonds. Tip them onto an oiled baking tray (or a tray lined with non-stick baking paper), and push down into an even layer and allow to cool.

Once the almonds have cooled completely, break them into small shards, then blitz in a food processor till roughly ground (do not completely reduce it to powder). This can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for a week or two, and is great to sprinkle over almost any creamy dessert to provide textural contrast :)

Garnish these mousse glasses with anything you like. Crushed praline is great, but if you’d prefer tuiles, wafers or chocolate shards, there’s certainly nothing to stop you :)

[tags]blackberry, mousse, praline, dessert, recipe[/tags]

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