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Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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mousse designates a wide variety of desserts. The category can be essentially defined as chilled airy confections made from one of four bases: whipped cream; beaten egg whites; gelatin (in combination with one of the first two); or sugar syrup meringue (also called Italian meringue) combined with whipped cream. Mousses lend themselves to an endless choice of flavorings. In the eighteenth century, a mousse was served in a large silver goblet made especially for this dessert, presumably to retain the icy chill that was a marker of a dessert intended for elite tables. For his Mousse à la crème, François Menon begins by whipping the cream and advises that if the cream does not froth up (mousser) properly, the cook must add beaten egg whites. If done by hand (for Menon, with a bundle of twigs, but later with a whisk), beating the eggs whites properly requires effort. Electric beaters now supply the elbow grease for many cooks. In both cases, the rapid whipping motion enables the cook “to harvest the air” and turn the egg whites into a frothy, stiff structure (McGee, 2004). For his Mousse de chocolat, Menon incorporates melted chocolate into fresh egg yolks, which he then adds to the cream and froths up the mixture as in his first recipe.