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“With my hands tied behind my back” …. much ado about mousse.

Posted in Bake, Baking, Food, and Food & Entertaining

From mould to table.

sofamother is convinced she is the best cook in our family. We all have our own specialties – but she figures she can beat any of our efforts in the kitchen … the semi bondage quote is her culinary catch phrase.

Glennie makes the best apple tart in the world. Her roast potatoes are peerless. Chicken curry excellent and chocolate cake addictive. She loves it when we call for recipes – reminding us of her status as she issues them.

I’m pretty good with things simple/mediteranean. sofabrother1 is a trained pastry chef (been a while, though… just saying). sofabrother2 is the braai (bbq) specialist, my sister mainly cooks kid-sanctioned favourites, and my dad dabbles in pasta sauces. He currently holds the title for “the best pasta in the world”, bestowed by his grandchildren for his roast veggie sugo. Granny’s food also resonates with the mucky-buggers. They came back from a recent jaunt to Joburg with containers full of their faves. Packed in meal-friendly sizes, so they’re “ready to go whenever we are”, according to Jasper.

I love how involved the kids are with food (and harsh critics too, let me tell you). Over the weekend it struck me that we’re creating a collection of ‘family recipes’ that are being passed down through the generations. Which got me thinking of a concoction that debuted in the seventies – for a dinner party. There it sat, resplendent, in the centre of the table – “Chocolate Caramel Mousse”, covered in flakes of chocolate. I was delighted – Mousse!! At last we were posh. We inhaled the leftovers and were hooked. It was a puffy, minty, caramelly cloud – that we have eaten with deep joy ‘on special occasions’, ever since.

IMG_2716A call to sofamother revealed that the recipe is actually my Aunt Gill’s. Which added a lovely link to the family recipe chain. Essentially it is a blancmange – but tastes so much better than that sounds. (Sidebar: ‘white dish‘ – seriously France – was that the best you could come up with? “Come and ave supper wiz us, we will prepare ze white dish”). The prep is also incredibly easy. Takes minutes.

I wanted to find a jelly that didn’t feature gelatine. As it’s provenance always makes me uncomfortable. But, after a discussion with camparigirl around alternatives (a disturbing conversation that included the revelation that Italian gelatine comes from fishbones … and that they call it ‘fish-glue’ in the old country ), I decided to stick with the original. If you are familiar with agar agar – then by all means substitute away. But you’ll need to factor in some lemon juice. You can probably also get vegetarian jello – I couldn’t find any today.

My aunt called back immediately with her instructions – which are even easier than I remember.

So here it is: Gill’s Peppermint Caramel Mousse. 

  • 1 tin Caramel/Dulce de Leche (or boil a tin of condensed milk until you have caramel – take about an hour)
  • 1 packet lemon jelly
  • 1 cup/250ml chilled unsweetened evaporated milk (we call it Ideal milk here – tho I think that’s the brand) Must, must, must, be chilled.
  • 100g (regular slab) mint crisp chocolate – grated – reserve some to decorate with. Or use more.  There can never be too much chocolate. Next time I am going to use dark chocolate.


  1. Dissolve the jelly granules in a cup (250ml) of boiling water. Allow to cool completely.
  2. Using a hand-held beater – beat the chilled evaporated milk until stiff and foamy – this takes a good while. Your bowl should be big enough for the mixture to triple in size
  3. Slowly incorporate the cool jelly mix, continuing to beat as you do – if the mix is warm – the milk mix will flop. And if the mix has set (ahem!) then pop it into the microwave or over a steam bath for a few minutes till it liquifies again. Definitely don’t add water.
  4. Add in the grated chocolate
  5. Stir the caramel in it’s tin until it is loose and smooth – think George Clooney
  6. Fold gently into the mixture – you don’t want to lose the fluffiness
  7. Pour into the mould and allow to set – preferably overnight. (You can also make it as a fridge cake – just pour the mix into a container … over a layer of your favourite plain biscuits/cookies).
  8. Turn out of mould and dredge with grated chocolate.
  9. Serve, accept praise.

Devour leftovers (though unlikely to be any) for breakfast with coffee. It will have hardened slightly with the exposure to air – and become more caramelly – a delectable second incarnation.

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One Comment

  1. Janet Rörschåch
    Janet Rörschåch

    HA! “Think George Clooney.” That’s not difficult at all.

    August 7, 2013

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