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Vegan French Pastry Experiment #2: Espresso Mousse Petits Fours

July 7, 2010

On a rainy Saturday, Graham and I got up the courage to make another attempt at petits fours (petits fours glacés, actually). This attempt worked.

Above, you see a chocolate hazelnut crust, with cappuccino mousse stacked on top of it.

Now, the whole process, while not very taxing, was quite long since we had to wait for the mousse to set in its upright position. So, if I feel like making something this delicious again without all the time spent, I’ll just make the crust and the mousse, and then use the crust as a cookie on which to dollop the mousse.

First, we made the crust (I say “we,” since Graham was an excellent consultant!). I ground up some hazelnuts, until most of them were powdered and there were just a few chunks left. I then melted some chocolate, along with coconut oil, brown rice syrup, and salt. I combined the chocolate mixture with the ground nuts, until I got a consistency similar to a moldable nut-crust. Then, using my little circular cutter, I cut out some little mini-crusts.

We put them in the refrigerator until we were ready for them again.

To make the mousse, I blended up a box of vacuum-packed tofu, and then made a thick syrup using the following ingredients:

-hazelnut milk

-instant coffee (and a lot of it!)

-agar agar

-vanilla

-powdered sugar

-salt

-coconut oil

If you remember from the last pastry experiment, the raspberry mouse was tasty, but not very mousse-y–it was more like jell-o pudding because of the primary role played by the agar. I was a little discouraged at that point–fluffy, non-gelatinous chocolate mousse is easy to make, since the chocolate itself can do all of the thickening work. But how could you make non-gelatinous non-chocolate mousse? So this time, to get a less gelatinous, fluffier texture, I halved the amount of agar I used, and included a generous amount of coconut oil (which is solid at room temperature). I also used more powdered sugar than last time. After blending this thick syrup in with the tofu and letting the mixture set in the refrigerator for a while, I was able to get a mousse that was rich, but also fluffy–gelatinous enough to stay together, but not so gelatinous as to be reminiscent of jell-o. (So, if you took a spoonful of it out of the bowl, you would be able to cut through it, but you would also get some nice “tearing.”)

Once the mousse was done, we started stacking the mousse onto the crust. We first cut out bits of pretty parchment paper to line the inside of the mousse ring, and placed the mousse ring, with paper inside of it, around the crusts. (“Why pretty parchment paper?” you might ask. Well, two reasons. 1. That’s what they seem to do in the patisseries, at least some of the time. 2. I wasn’t convinced we would be able to remove the parchment paper without the whole thing coming apart.)

We then put the mousse inside, and let them sit, with the mousse rings still on, in the refrigerator for a few more hours.

When we took them out of the refrigerator, we carefully removed the mousse rings and got these.

Before unwrapping them, we actually let them stay in the refrigerator for a bit longer. But once they were unwrapped, they looked especially lovely.

These were pretty intense. The crust wasn’t very sweet, but was extremely chocolate-y and nutty. The mousse, on the other hand, was very sweet–it was a great deal like mousse, actually–and tasted a little bit like a coffee-flavored cream-cheese frosting (that flavor, I think, may result from the bitterness of the instant coffee).

That night, we were going to a little dinner party, and so we used the left-over crust and mousse ingredients to make smaller, more manageable pastries.

These were also very good–and because of the reduced mousse content, they were less liable to keep one up until 5AM. We topped them with more berries, chocolate, and hazelnut powder to make them ideal after dinner treats. (These were a huge hit, by the way–our dinner was with some pretty hard-core vegan skeptics, but these little pastries were, everyone agreed, totally awesome.)

So, now I just need to start measuring things, so that I can make these again!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. patricia leach permalink
    July 7, 2010 12:03 pm

    Wow! You guys are something else! You deserve a TV show on the Food Network!

  2. Scott Brooks permalink
    July 7, 2010 6:19 pm

    I agree with you, measuring so you can make them again (like when we come visit) is a good idea. Beautiful mousse art.

  3. Mary Bosch permalink
    July 7, 2010 10:08 pm

    I love that pix of the mousse with the papers still on sitting on your plates! What are those darling little berries?

    • July 8, 2010 8:20 am

      I’m not sure what those berries are–we just saw them at the fruit stand, and thought they were very pretty. Unfortunately, they don’t taste so great (at least, I don’t think so–Graham kind of likes them); they’re not horrible, but just kind of tart.

  4. Caroline Brooks permalink
    July 9, 2010 11:48 pm

    I second Scott’s thought – I hope you’ll make them when we come visit! 🙂 They are gorgeous (that decorative paper is so French)!

  5. Kiki permalink
    August 14, 2010 1:44 am

    Okay, I take it back. Now I want one of these babies for dessert instead of the strawberry pancake!

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