The dreamy, smooth white chocolate mousse recipe comes from a professional culinary arts program, but is easy to make in your own kitchen. (Skip to recipe.)
Last week I had to pinch myself. I was in a food lover's paradise. Mmmmmmmmmm.
Edmonton's 27th FEASTival took place at the Shaw Conference Centre and I was lucky enough to go.
It's a grand event. Some of Edmonton's finest chefs and their talented apprentices from top restaurants showcase their creativity and highlight an amazing array of local foods. Fantastic food displays filled the exterior walls of the cavernous conference hall at the Shaw. I felt like bemused wanderer in a culinary version of Aladdin's cave. Several restaurants handed out tantalizing little amuse bouches to whet the appetite as we browsed. It is wonderful to see just a little glimpse of what this next generation of Edmonton chefs can create. It is also wonderful to see the huge array of top quality food grown and produced right here in Alberta.
24 hours before the FEASTival, the chefs and their apprentices are given a mystery box of local products and ingredients, from which they must create their menu for the evening. All the planning, organizing, and cooking of the dishes is done away from their home kitchens, so they are truly challenged to use their talents.
The evening is set up like a kind of foodie lottery for the four courses of your meal. As you arrive, you choose a number and get a little booklet with four tickets. Then as each course is announced throughout the evening, you go find the restaurant booth that matches your ticket number. The restaurants change their numbers for each course, so you never know which one will offer your next course. It's a grand happy chaos of organized confusion as hungry diners navigate the room to find their restaurants and discover which mouthwatering dish they'll eat next. The thrill of the hunt is on, but the reward is that there are no bad choices.
Such fun and deliciousness!
For my appetizer course, I had the Wild Boar Cheek Terrine from the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald - this was my absolute favourite course (and not just because it was the first one and I was hungry!) - meltingly tender boar cheek layered with tart and juicy baked apple slices, served with wild mushroom panna cotta, roulade of braised red cabbage, carrot puree, pickled chanterelle mushrooms, and apple cider gel. Doesn't that sound posh and heavenly? It was.
For my soup course, I had the Cream of Roasted Golden Beet & Parsnip Soup from the Hilton Garden Inn. It was garnished with roasted pumpkin seeds and roasted garlic. The sweet earthiness of the beets and parsnips were autumn in a bowl. Delicious.
For my entrée, I had the Seared Venison Sirloin from Madison's Grill. It looked beautiful and came with Dueling Paves (of potato and turnip), Vanilla Yam Puree, Glazed Asparagus, Carrots, and Shitake & Red Wine Demi-Glace.
For dessert, the Carrot Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce from Zinc Restaurant - it was heavenly - dense and chewy like the best kind of cake/pudding with that delectable sauce (and a beautiful edible flower). Mmmmm.
However, the best part of the evening was the sharing that happened at my table of other passionate foodies and bloggers. Plates were generously passed around and we dug our forks into each other's meals, savouring the flavours from so many amazing restaurants. Our table was situated adjacent to the NAIT (Northern Institute of Technology) booth so I got a close up view of the chefs and students from their renowned culinary program bustling (calmly and efficiently) around to serve their meal. We were lucky enough to have Chris Short (NAIT Chef Instructor and FEASTival Chair) magically procure a few extra samples of their courses (sometimes luck is with you and you get to sit in the right spot!) for us to feast on.
Their dessert was wonderful, and a memorable end to a sensational gastronomic Feast.
It only took me a little begging (I was polite - I swear!) for Chris to agree to get me the recipe for the heavenly Valrhona White Chocolate Mousse with Coconut, created by Chef and Culinary Instructor, Ganesh Subramanya and NAIT's culinary program, for the FEASTival menu.
Understandably, the recipe involved complicated techniques and massive amounts of ingredients not easily duplicated in a home kitchen, so I scaled it waaaayyy down and adapted it for a home kitchen. The original recipe makes seven litres of mousse, using almost one and a half litres of cream and over one kilogram of white chocolate! Even without the professional 'Pate a Bombe' technique (no idea what that is . . . ) and the elegant passionfruit reduction, toasted macadamia nuts, mango gelle, and chocolate ganache to serve it with, this recipe is an absolute winner. It has an unbelievably smooth texture and richness. It uses not one, but three ... three!. . . different ingredients that would normally thicken a custard or mousse: gelatin, egg yolks, and white chocolate. I'm sure that's the secret to it's dreamlike texture.
I served the white chocolate mousse simply, with diced fresh pineapple and canned mandarin orange segments. I'm sure it would be just as delicious with diced mango, or lychees, or even diced strawberries.
So here it is . . . a home version of the secret special recipe from FEASTival and NAIT's culinary program, for you to impress guests at your next dinner party or just to celebrate a special family evening. (I guess it's not so secret any more, eh?)
* * * * *
adapted for home use, from Chef/Instructor Ganesh Subramanya and NAIT's Culinary Program
- ⅓ cup fine, unsweetened, shredded coconut
- ¾ cup (180ml) whipping cream
- ¾ teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 package (2 and ¼ teaspoons) powdered gelatin
- ¼ cup (60ml) water
- 2 large egg yolks
- ½ cup (120ml) full fat, premium canned coconut milk (make sure to shake can or whisk contents before measuring)
- 2 tablespoons (25gms) sugar
- 1 cup (140gms) top quality white chocolate chunks
- 1 tablespoon flavourless oil (I like grapeseed)
- diced fruit, for serving, optional*
Preheat oven to 350°F. Put the fine shredded coconut into a baking dish and toast, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool.
Whip the heavy cream until stiff, and refrigerate the bowl with the whipped cream until needed.
Pour the water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over top. Leave it to soften for about 5 minutes.
In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks, canned coconut milk, and sugar until well combined. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, but don't allow it to come to a boil.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the white chocolate chunks. Stir until they are completely melted. Scrape in the softened gelatin and stir until it is completely dissolved into the mixture.
Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and until it has the thickness of raw egg whites.
While the white chocolate mixture is cooling, prepare the molds. Use a pastry brush to coat 6 half-cup (120ml) rounded molds or small custard bowls with the oil. Put about one tablespoon of the toasted coconut in and tilt the mold so the coconut sticks to the bottom and all sides. Tap out the excess. Reserve any leftover toasted coconut.
When the white chocolate mixture has cooled, pour it over the whipped cream and fold them together lightly, making sure both mixtures are smoothly incorporated, but trying not to deflate the whipped cream too much.
Divide the mousse between the molds, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight, until completely set.
Slide a knife gently around the edge of each mold to loosen the mousse and invert onto dessert plates. Use the reserved remaining toasted coconut to pat into place if there are any spots that aren't covered by coconut.
*Surround each little mousse with diced fruit, such as fresh pineapple, canned mandarin orange segments, mango, kiwi, strawberries, or other berries.
Disclosure: The ticket for this event was generously provided for me by AFPA (Alberta Food Processors Associaton) FEASTival, 2015
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