Cooking Class: Frozen delights

As the temperature rises, the thought of frozen desserts becomes more alluring. Here is how to make sweet, refreshing mousses.

Chocolate Mousse (photo credit: Courtesy)
Chocolate Mousse
(photo credit: Courtesy)
One of the best desserts I ever tasted was a rich chocolate iced soufflé at the celebrated Parisian restaurant Taillevent.
The glorious sweet finale I enjoyed is a member of a family of elegant desserts – the frozen mousse. Creamy and frosty, they can be created in multitude of shapes, tastes and colors. They are made from mixtures that are richer than ice cream, and so they acquire a velvety texture without being stirred during the freezing process. Therefore, they do not require an ice-cream machine to prevent the formation of ice crystals.
Frozen mousses gain smoothness from the addition of whipped cream, egg yolks, butter, Italian meringue (egg whites whipped with hot syrup) or a combination of these elements. They are made in several ways.
Basic frozen mousses are prepared like classic chocolate mousse: The main ingredient is mixed with sugar and egg yolks and then folded into whipped egg whites.
For a frozen mousse, a generous proportion of whipped cream is usually added.
Bombe mousses are made by beating hot syrup into egg yolks and combining the cooled mixture with whipped cream.
Traditionally they are made into molded desserts called bombes by being spooned into round molds lined with ice cream or sorbet of a contrasting color, but bombe mousses also make delicious desserts on their own.
Classic French parfaits are made of sweet egg-yolk-rich custard that is whipped until frothy; some formulas call for Italian meringue as well. The mixture is then enriched with whipped cream, which some chefs prefer to make with crème fraiche.
In Italy, frozen mousses are often called semifreddi. They can be made by the basic mousse method or by a formula that begins like zabaglione, the famous Italian Marsala wine-flavored dessert. To make a mousse by this technique, cooks whip eggs, egg yolks and sugar over hot water, beat the mixture until cool and combine it with whipped cream.
Iced soufflés can be made from any of these mousses. The mixture is poured into a soufflé dish with a collar of waxed paper wrapped around the top of the dish so that the mousse can be spooned in above the level of the dish’s rim. Before serving, the paper is removed and the dessert looks like it has risen like a soufflé.
Liqueurs are traditional flavorings for frozen mousses, and so are vanilla, coffee and chocolate. A favorite of mine is a walnut-studded French cognac mousse. Nick Malgieri, author of Great Italian Desserts, flavors one of his semifreddi with amaretto liqueur and amaretti cookies, another with grated orange zest and orange liqueur, and a third with chocolate and hazelnuts.
Fruit make refreshing frozen mousses.
At Taillevent’s they now serve a frozen parfait flavored with candied violets and red fruit. When apricots are in season, I like to make a fresh apricot mousse, which is especially delicious when layered with coconut ice cream.
Even vegetables can be turned into a frozen mousse. Sally and Martin Stone, authors of Desserts with a Difference, make candied chickpeas and combine them with currants, rum, macaroons, whipped cream and beaten egg whites to make a semifreddo.
Lindsey Remolif Shere, author of Chez Panisse Desserts, prepares a luscious frozen caramel mousse. American dessert expert Maida Heatter, author of Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts, makes an elegant frozen honey mousse; she learned the recipe from a roadside beekeeper in Kansas.
A mousse can also become a frozen cheesecake. The one made by Dana Bovbjerg and Jeremy Iggers, who wrote The Joy of Cheesecake, calls for beating cream cheese and sieved cottage cheese with sugar and egg yolks, adding vanilla and folding in whipped cream. The cheese mousse is frozen in a crumb crust and, note the authors, “will keep practically forever.”
Because these mousses are so rich, they are served in small amounts or used as elements of other desserts.
Often they are layered with light sponge cakes or with crunchy baked meringue to make frozen cakes. To make frozen charlottes, the mousses can be spooned into a mold or spring form pan lined with ladyfingers.
Frozen mousses are perfect for entertaining.
I simply freeze the mousse for a few hours, and it’s ready when I want it.
The mousses are attractive on their own, but it’s nice to accompany them with fresh fruit or a fruit sauce or, like Taillevent’s iced soufflé, with a cool crème anglaise (custard sauce).
Makes 8 or 9 servings
I came up with my frozen chocolate mousse cupcakes by chance. I had made a rich, creamy chocolate mousse and molded it in cupcake shapes for a pretty presentation. But I had prepared so many desserts that day that I decided to freeze some of the cupcakes. They turned out delicious as a frozen dessert.
The raisin-studded mousse is prepared in paper baking cups and is extremely easy to unmold – just peel off the paper.
It keeps for two or three weeks in the freezer. You can serve it with whipped cream or with rum-flavored custard sauce.
✔ 1⁄3 cup raisins
✔ 2 Tbsp. rum
✔ 225 gr. fine-quality semisweet or bitter sweet chocolate, chopped
✔ 3 large egg yolks
✔ 3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
✔ 5 Tbsp. water
✔ 110 gr. (or 1⁄2 cup) unsalted butter, slightly softened
✔ 2⁄3 cup whipping cream, well chilled Put raisins in a small jar or bowl; pour rum over them. Cover tightly; shake to mix. Cover and leave to macerate at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours at room temperature.
Melt chocolate in a medium bowl over nearly simmering water. Stir until smooth. Remove from water; let cool. Set 8 or 9 paper baking cups in muffin pans.
Whisk egg yolks with sugar and 5 Tbsp.
water in a small metal bowl. Set bowl in a pan of nearly simmering water. Heat, whisking constantly, until mixture reaches 70ºC (160ºF) on an instant-read or candy thermometer, about 1 minute.
Immediately transfer to another bowl and whisk until cool.
Beat butter in a medium or large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg mixture in two batches. Beat in chocolate in two batches.
Stir in raisins and their rum.
In a chilled medium bowl, whip cream until stiff. Fold cream, in three batches, into chocolate mixture. Spoon into the paper baking cups, using about 1⁄3 cup mousse for each cup. Tap molds to even top surface. Freeze about 3 hours or until firm (or see Note below.) Turn mousse “cupcakes” over onto small plates; gently peel off papers. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.
Note: If you prefer cold mousse cupcakes instead of frozen ones, refrigerate the mousse for 5 hours or until firm before serving.

Makes a generous liter (quart)
This recipe is from Chez Panisse Desserts.
Lindsey Remolif Shere notes that it is delicious with many kinds of fruit. She recommends garnishing individual servings with caramelized walnut or with a raspberry set on a rosette of vanilla whipped cream.
✔ 8 egg yolks
✔ 3 Tbsp. water
✔ 7⁄8 cup sugar
✔ 1⁄2 cup boiling water
✔ 15⁄8 cups whipping cream
✔ 11⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract, to taste Beat the egg yolks until pale yellow and stiff enough to hold a ribbon for 1 or 2 seconds when the beater is lifted from the mixture.
Make the caramel: Put 3 Tbsp. water in a small, heavy, light-colored saucepan. Sprinkle in the sugar and let it stand to absorb the water. Do not mix it. When the water is absorbed, boil the mixture until it turns pale gold. Be careful that it doesn’t get too dark or the mousse will taste burned. To check the true color, tip the pan so you are looking only at a thin layer. You can put the pan back on the heat if the caramel isn’t dark enough, but note that the heat of the pan will continue cooking it even when it is removed from the heat.
Have the boiling water ready. Remove the pale gold sugar mixture from the heat and set the pan in the sink. Pour the boiling water into it carefully; this stops the cooking and prevents further browning of the caramel. Stand back when doing this so as not to be burned by the spattering caramel.
Set the pan back on the heat and simmer just until all the caramel has dissolved, stirring constantly.
Pour the caramel in a very thin stream into the beaten egg yolks, beating constantly so the eggs don’t curdle. Set the mixture over a bowl of ice and beat until it is cool and holds a soft shape. Then whip the cream with the vanilla until it mounds softly, and fold it thoroughly into the egg yolk-caramel mixture. Both mixtures must be beaten stiff enough that they won’t separate while freezing.
Pour into a container or parfait glasses and freeze until firm.
Faye Levy is the author of the award winning book Chocolate Sensations. In Hebrew it is called Shokolad!