Cardamom Chocolate Mousse topped with Meringue Cookies
This elegant chocolate dessert might seem complicated but it really wasn't. First I prepared a cardamom-flavored chocolate mousse. The mousse required very few ingredients: milk, whipping cream, butter, sugar and of course cardamom and chocolate (the stars of this sweet treat!). You'll notice no eggs were used in this step.
The second step is the meringue cookie topping. You can prepare the meringues way in advance and assemble the dessert at the last minute. The meringues provided a nice contrast of texture against the velvety chocolate mousse, as well a striking contrast of color.
Yields: 8 mini dessert cups¼ cup muscavado baking sugar (or granulated sugar)
6 cardamom pods (or ¼ teaspoon cardamom extract)
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons whole milk
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup heavy whipping cream
2 egg whites
¾ cup powdered sugar
⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cocoa powder, for dusting
For the cardamom pods: In a mortar and pestle, pound the pods to release the seeds and grind them. Gather the cardamom powder. Reserve ¼ teaspoon for garnish later.
Making cardamom chocolate mousse:
Place the chocolate in a stainless-steel mixing bowl. Make a "double boiler" (a pot filled with hot water, covered with a piece of cloth) and place the bowl filled with chocolate on top. Make sure the bowl circumference is larger than the pot, so there isn't any splatter of water in the chocolate. Slowly melt, stirring frequently. Turn off the heat and add the milk and butter. Stir well until the mixture is uniform. Add cardamom and let cool for 5 minutes.
Whip the heavy cream with ⅛ teaspoon salt (at low speed) for 2-3 minutes until creamy and smooth. Add the muscavado sugar. Increase to maximum speed and keep beating for another 2-3 minutes, until it forms soft peaks. Do not over-beat or the texture will become grainy.
Pour ⅓ of the whipped cream into the melted chocolate. Mix well. Pour in the rest of the whipped cream; using a silicone spatula, gently fold the cream into the chocolate.
Transfer to a piping bag.
Pipe the mousse to fill cute mini cups about half way. Smooth the tops and cover each cup with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Making meringue base:
Place the egg whites in a stainless-steel mixing bowl. Add ⅛ teaspoon salt. Using an electric handheld mixer, whisk until you get soft peaks. Make a "double boiler" (a pot filled with hot water, covered with a piece of cloth) and place the bowl filled with whisked eggs on top. Adding powdered sugar incrementally, whisk until the mixture thickens and the sugar is well incorporated (don't over-mix or it will become grainy). Check the temperature of the eggs; they should feel warm to the touch. Remove from the double boiler, add the vanilla extract. Continue whisking at full speed for 5-10 minutes. The egg whites should stick right up and be thick and shiny. Make sure the eggs are whisked until they're back to room temperature.
Preparing the baking pans: Preheat the oven to 225°F. Using a pencil, draw 15 spaced-out 1½" circles on a sheet of parchment paper (I used a "1-tablespoon" measuring spoon). Flip the sheets and line a baking pan with the parchment paper.
Baking the meringue cookies: Fit a pastry bag with a 5/8" round-shaped tip and spoon the meringue batter filling into the bag. Pipe 15 spiral-shaped cookies into the circles, using the drawn circles on the parchment paper as a guide. Let set for 20 minutes. Once they're sticky but dry to the touch at the top, they're ready to bake. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Transfer to cooling racks and let cool to room temperature.
When you're ready to serve, unwrap the cups.
In a small bowl, combine the reserved cardamom and the cocoa powders.
Top with the meringue cookies (you can save the exra cookies for another dessert). Dust with a little unsweetened cocoa / cardamom powder (using a fine mesh strainer) if you like.
I prefer using superfine sugar for the meringue cookies. It's fine-grained and dissolves more quickly than regular granulated sugar.
You can find cardamom pods or cardamom extract in any Indian market.
I use Guittard extra semi-sweet baking chocolate chips that I buy directly from a local market.
I usually add a little salt to most desserts. Salt brings out the flavors and will enhance the taste of your sweets.