Chestnut Mousse with Brown Sugar Meringues and Marsala Honey Jelly
Ah, it’s nearly Christmas and I’m sure the thought of cooking and the Christmas day menu has crossed a few people’s minds by now. This recipe is a fantastic little number for those who do not like Christmas pudding or who would like to do a pudding buffet instead. Making and serving them in glasses looks fantastic and the beauty is that you can make them up to 2 days in advance – keep them chilled, then just before serving pop on the meringues and jelly and serve. I think it’s a fab festive alternative and a recipe that takes a tiny bit of stress out of Christmas day. Enjoy!
Ingredients & Method
For the chestnut mousse
- 400g unsweetened chestnut purée
- 200g caster sugar
- 40ml hot (tap) water
- 6 large free-range or organic egg yolks
- 2 gelatine leaves, bloomed (softened in cold water, then squeezed gently to remove excess water)
- 400ml double cream
For the Marsala honey jelly
- 50g clear honey
- 100ml Marsala wine
- 30g caster sugar
- 150ml cold water
- 3 gelatine leaves, bloomed (softened in cold water, then squeezed gently to remove excess water)
For the chestnut purée decoration
- 200g unsweetened chestnut purée
- 100g caster sugar
- 25ml Marsala wine
- 36 small Brown Sugar Meringues, plus 12 extra to crush (for my recipe for brown sugar meringues, see method and Cook's Notes)
- 120g (shelled weight) roasted chestnuts, shelled and roughly chopped (the vacuum-packed ones work well too)
- fresh coriander cress sprigs, to decorate (optional)
Place 12 suitable dessert glasses on a tray in the fridge (I use a random selection of large wine glasses).
For the chestnut mousse, place the chestnut purée in a bowl and whisk to loosen it up and soften slightly, then set aside.
Place the caster sugar, hot water and egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the mixture continuously for about 12 minutes or until the mixture (sabayon) becomes thickened and pale yellow in colour. Remove from the heat, add the bloomed gelatine and whisk for about 30 seconds or until dissolved. Whisk in the softened chestnut purée. Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl set over ice and leave to cool (see also Cook’s Notes, if you prefer to use a Thermomix).
In a separate bowl, semi-whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the chestnut mixture until combined. Working quickly, pour the mousse into the chilled dessert glasses, dividing it evenly, leaving a 1.5cm space on top of each dessert (this allows enough room to top each dessert with the Marsala jelly and meringues). Refrigerate for about 4 hours or until completely set.
Once set, serve, or cover the glasses with cling film (if you are serving the desserts the next day).
Meanwhile, make the Marsala honey jelly. Place all the ingredients, except the bloomed gelatine, in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Remove from the heat and then whisk in the bloomed gelatine until dissolved. Pass the mixture through a sieve into a small container about 10cm square, then leave to cool and set in the fridge, about 2 hours. Once completely set, cut the jelly into small cubes to decorate the chestnut mousse.
For the chestnut purée decoration, place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth, then transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle.
To serve, uncover the desserts and pipe 3 even-size dollops of chestnut purée on top of each dessert. Scatter a few Marsala honey jelly cubes on each dessert, top with 3 meringues (recipe) and then crush 1 meringue over each dessert. Scatter over the chestnut pieces, then decorate each dessert with a couple of sprigs of coriander cress, if you like, and serve immediately.
For a suitable recipe for small brown sugar meringues (see ingredients list and method above) see my recipe for Damson Bavarois with Spiced Baked Damsons and Petit Brown Sugar Meringues.
Thermomix Method (for the mousse)
For the mousse, place the sugar, hot water and egg yolks in the Thermomix jug and insert the butterfly whisk. Set the timer for 20 minutes at 80°C, on speed 3. Once the time is completed, add the bloomed gelatine and whisk for 30 seconds, then add the softened chestnut purée and whisk it in on speed 1 for a further 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a bowl set over ice and leave to cool, then continue with the recipe as directed above.