Happy New Year!
I was 13 when I first went to Paris. My grandparents were there, and invited my mother + I during my spring break. European culture, specifically France and Switzerland where my grandmother’s family is from, has always been instilled in me, but when I was able to experience it for myself, I loved it. The cobbled streets, the farmer’s market, the flowers tumbling onto the street, the art stores… it was all so special.
Ever since, it’s become a special place in my life. It’s where I spent my summer when I was really struggling in my eating disorder + ultimately found myself again. It’s where I went for a long weekend on my way to cook at my first retreat. I walk for miles always ending up at an incredibly French cafe to sit + people watch.
My first experience getting chocolate mousse was at one of those cafes. I couldn’t tell you what the name of it is, but it was tucked in an alley with a handful of tables + the best roasted chicken in the 6th arr. It’s always been a favorite, but like some other classically French desserts, I abandoned making it when I turned dairy free.
Here, we remove the whipped cream + create a rich chocolate cashew cream married to Italian meringue. Light + fluffy, you won’t miss the cream… and a perfect way to ring in the new year!
1 cup (130 g) cashews, soaked for 2-4 hours
¾ cup (75 g) cacao powder
1/3 cup (56 g) melted cacao butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons filtered water, separated
1 cup maple syrup, separated
4 egg whites, room temperature
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
In a high speed blender, add the cashews through the sea salt with ½ cup of water + ¼ cup maple syrup, and blend until smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl + set aside.
In a small, heavy bottomed pot with a candy thermometer, add the rest of the water (1/3 cup) + maple syrup (3/4 cup). Heat over medium low heat until it reaches 240F, about 10 minutes. While that’s happening, add the egg whites + cream of tartar to the bowl of your stand mixer. With a whisk attachment, start whipping on medium speed until they’re frothy. When the syrup is ready, slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl into the whites. Turn the mixer to medium high + whip until you reach soft peaks, or when it slightly curls onto itself.
Whisk in 1/3 of the meringue into the cashew cream until smooth. Using a large spatula, gently fold in the rest of the meringue in 2 large batches until all of the white streaks are gone. Cover with plastic wrap, touching on top + chill for at least 4 hours before serving.