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Caramel Cardamom Mousse

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday filled with family, friends, good times and laughter. We did, kind of mellow some days, kind of crazy some others…waiting for that cold weather to come our way so we could cozy up in front of the fireplace. Well, after temperatures in the 60s and the 70s, we finally have some cold weather. Of course it occurs on January 2nd, Mother Nature scoffing at us now that Santa is long gone and New Year’s Eve is simply but a page turned. But you know what? It does not really matter anymore as I did not need the fireplace to make me feel cosy this Christmas season. Nope. I had the warmth of looking at cards every morning upon waking up, looking at my really weird looking Norfolk pine tree. Some were too kind to tell me it looked good….I did not care for it, but it was a gift and it got "prettified" as one of neighbors kids said.

Anyways, I was also blessed one Christmas Eve morning when I received a box full of cookies and gifts for the house, (look Lisa! the stars are giving my dessert some spice), a cookbook, The Sweet Life by Kate Zuckerman (see Veronica! already put to good use), and the softest fleece robe courtesy of my mother in law. The correlation with Cardamom Caramel Mousse? Well, that Christmas morning I felt really blessed that I could eat one of my friend’s cookies, while reading the other friend’s cookbook, and all wrapped up in my surrogate mom’s gift….Really, it just dawned on me that very minute: "gosh, this is pretty special"…and as I was lost in all things metaphysical (ya’ll know I am kidding, right?!), my hand stopped the pages of the book from turning by pushing on page 106, where Kate Zuckerman wrote the Caramel Mousse.

I can see why her recipe is at the backbone of so many of her desserts and the applications and variations on it are almost endless. A hot caramel syrup is whipped into egg yolks to create a safe cream to which some gelatin and whipped cream is added. The end result sets rather quickly but the taste is out of this world and the texture…well…soft as a pillow…really. In her original recipe Kate uses cinnamon to spice up the taste, and although I have nothing against cinnamon, I will go for cardamom first if given the choice. I thought about infusing the caramel syrup for the mousse with some barely crushed open pods. I started looking at the variations given when I noticed that she had a cardamom one, but used just the pods in their original form. Granted they are fragrant on their own, but I feared that the flavor would get lost in the boiling syrup, (even with the 10 pods she uses) so I went for a tiny bit more complication (one day I might play with caramel in a simple way, maybe!). I opened the pods, let them boil with in the caramel, strained the caramel over a bowl and quickly added it to the egg mixture for the mousse. It won’t cool the caramel syrup long enough to weaken its emulsifying power for the mousse part.

Will I make the mousse again? You bet! The cardamom was such a good match for the caramel that it makes me want to experiment. The texture makes you believe it is light as air but if you’re here reading this you know better: cream, sugar, eggs…And tomorrow? Butter, flour, sugar and cream….My New Year resolutions: small quantities of lip smacking desserts because life is too short to have less than the best! I am not saying I never use a box or a can of anything once in a while, I’d be lying and non-human, but there is nothing like the real thing! The pictures in the book are so crisp and drool-inducing that I’ll probably feed off her concepts and try some other great associations she came up with. Now, how can see why Veronica and Anita kept pushing me to give it a look. If only we could share a Kate Z. baking session now!!!! Allright, on to the recipe:

Cardamom Caramel Mousse, adapted from the Sweet Life, by Kate Zuckerman:

Yields 5 cups

6 egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 packet unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup water, divided
1 cup sugar
5 cardamom pods, cracked open
2 cups heavy cream

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg yolks and the salt. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup water, and let it sit while you make the caramel.

Combine the sugar, cardamom pods and 1/4cup water in a heavy saucepan. Cover and bring to a rapid boil over medium high heat (prevents crystallization of the sugar on the side of the pan). Once boiling, uncover and cook the sugar until deep golden brown. Turn off the heat and carefully pour 1/4 cup water into the hot caramel. The syrup will bubble and spurt, so stand back.Make sure the water incorporates fully to the syrup. Return to the heat if you get caramel bits and stir until it is one smooth liquid.

Strain the pods and seeds in a container with a spout, it will be easier to add the to the yolks. Pour the caramel slowly and into a steady stream into the egg yolks with the machine running on medium high. Melt the gelatin in the microwave for 10 seconds or into the (now empty) saucepan until dissolved. Add it to the yolk mixture and continue to whisk on medium high until it triples in volume and cools to room temperature.

In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Add it to the mousse base and fold the two gently together. Divide the mousse into cups, ramequins, dishes, etc…and let it set, covered in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

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Peabody January 3, 2008 um 6:41 am

Mmm, it looks like soft serve ice cream! Yum.

Pille January 3, 2008 um 8:09 am

I agree with Peabody – I love how you’ve served the mousse!
Happy New Year!!

MyKitchenInHalfCups January 3, 2008 um 8:47 am

Um . . . ah . . . I think I’m on my knees begging. Oh that looks and sounds so incredible Helen! I’m so with you on small because life is too short to have less than the best! Life is too short to drink bad wine too!

Rosa's Yummy Yums January 3, 2008 um 8:56 am

That mousse sounds interesting! It looks delicious!

Cheers and Happy New Year!


Suzana January 3, 2008 um 11:59 am

These look and sound delicious!

Annemarie January 3, 2008 um 12:50 pm

These do look like lovely mounds of wintery snow in a glass – but I heed you warning that more than a spoonful might put me into ANOTHER holiday season coma!

Anonymous January 3, 2008 um 1:09 pm

Swapping cardamom for cinnamon sounds like a great idea, and I love how you piped the mousse into the glasses – it’s so beautiful.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) January 3, 2008 um 1:18 pm

These look so beautiful in the glasses! Thank you for sharing the recipe.

Veron January 3, 2008 um 1:35 pm

It’s funny, I brought kate Z.’s book with me to work today. I’m glad you tried the mousse. I think I attempted this last year and my caramel wrapped around the whisk. I’m game to try it again because it looks so delicious!

Jenny January 3, 2008 um 2:07 pm

Okay do I need to run out to the bookstore today so I can bake up something yummy with you? 🙂

Anonymous January 3, 2008 um 3:31 pm

looking at your mousse reminds me of why we continue to have desserts in our lives! happy new year!

Anonymous January 3, 2008 um 4:07 pm

gorgeous! it looks so light and fluffy 🙂

tartelette, if heavy cream/single cream and double cream are difficult to find n $, what can i substitute them with?


Mercotte January 3, 2008 um 4:11 pm

ça me donne terriblement faim, tes photos sont superbes !!

Deborah January 3, 2008 um 4:34 pm

This sounds absolutely delicious!

Helene January 3, 2008 um 4:51 pm

Pink: the heavy cream is necessary to make the whipped cream to obtain the mousse part of it. I am afraid there isn’t a suitable substitute,the taste is so delicate that any aerosoled or pemade whipped cream would ruin it…in my opinion:)

Anonymous January 3, 2008 um 5:26 pm

I always meant to ask you, do you use green cardamom or black for your deserts?

Just curious.

Cakebrain January 3, 2008 um 5:58 pm

Ooh. That looks creamy soft delicious! Happy New Year!

Anonymous January 3, 2008 um 6:33 pm

Very unusual combination, Helen. You don’t often see cardamom these days.

I love alliteration in names too.

Jennie January 3, 2008 um 6:43 pm

I’m making these tonight for dessert using cinnamon instead of cardamom, just because I adore cinnamon. Thanks so much for the wonderful inspiration!

Katie January 3, 2008 um 7:29 pm

That does indeed look very light, creamy and fluffy. I love the way you ahve piped it into the glasses in swirls, so stylish

Hillary January 3, 2008 um 9:56 pm

What a great way to start off the new year with something so delicious! Great flavor combination. Happy new year!!!!

Anonymous January 3, 2008 um 10:29 pm

Oh wow, this does sound like an incredible flavor combination! I wonder if I might be able to use it some other way, since this mousse would not exactly be the easiest thing to veganize. 😉

Suganya January 4, 2008 um 12:44 am

My my. Thats decadence in every spoon. Thank God you used cardamom. Few tbsp of rice in this mouse will make it an Indian rice pudding.

Lis January 4, 2008 um 1:28 am

HEY! I know those stars!

squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! 😀

That mousse has me drooling.. seriously. I love how you presented them too.. so pretty! Like you!


Big Boys Oven January 4, 2008 um 7:16 am

oh this is so white and look so silky…. lovely done! marvellous!

Anonymous January 4, 2008 um 9:47 am

1 packet gelatin – what’s the weight? can we use leafs instead?


Emily January 4, 2008 um 9:52 am

I’m going to have to agree with everyone else; it looks fabulous! Whipped to perfection.

I’ve just started baking with cardamom in the last couple of months, but I really like it. I’ve only used it in cakes, so far.

monica January 4, 2008 um 11:13 am

absolutely stunning! i love cardamom and caramel just sounds like a wonderful complement that i never really thought of. thanks for the inspiration, helen!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) January 4, 2008 um 12:59 pm

Great presentation…it reminds me of summer…which it won’t be long before I am longing for the lazy, hazy days.The cardamon sounds like a good twist to a classic.

Cheryl January 4, 2008 um 2:28 pm

they look like little cups of loveliness. Wow, that must have been nice to sit down to.

Helene January 4, 2008 um 3:43 pm

Joanne: one packet of gelatin = 1 Tb = 1&1/2 leaves

LizNoVeggieGirl January 4, 2008 um 4:36 pm

Sounds like your holidays were quite charming; and this Cardamom-Caramel Mousse from the new cookbook you received looks so light and breathtaking!!

Happy new year, Helen :0)

Anonymous January 4, 2008 um 5:09 pm

Happy New Year. What a great recipe with which to start it!

glamah16 January 4, 2008 um 6:06 pm

Nice presentation. It looks so light and airy. I love Cardamom.Very interesting combo.

Anonymous January 4, 2008 um 8:14 pm

Caramel Cardamom Mousse…yum! Love that this mousse has cooked egg yolk instead of raw. Will bookmark it…

Katy January 4, 2008 um 8:38 pm

gorgeous! i was going to use your cardamom ice cream recipe, but this looks (amazingly) even better!!!!

Jenny January 4, 2008 um 10:31 pm

Those look heavenly! Beautiful pictures! Love how you served the mousse in glasses, lovely!

Nora B. January 5, 2008 um 1:48 am

Hi Helen, you must have been a very good girl to receive all those lovely Christmas presents 😉

I’ve never tried combining caramel and cardamom before, so I am intrigued by this mousse. I love the way you served it.

Have a great weekend!


test it comm January 5, 2008 um 2:27 am

The mousse sounds really good. The caramel and cardamom flavour sounds interesing. Great photos!

Anonymous January 7, 2008 um 1:20 am

That looks fantastic. Awesome! I’m going to have to try this!

Anonymous January 9, 2008 um 7:01 pm

Hmm, I’ll prod again, must have missed my query in the midst of all the other comments. Do you use green or black cardamom for your recipes? Do you have a preference, and if so, why?

Helene January 9, 2008 um 7:30 pm

Benedict: sorry for the tardy response, I keep getting pulled in different directions:
I use green cardamom in desserts in black cardamom in curries and savory dished as I find it a little bit bitter. Now, that is just my preference 🙂

Anonymous January 10, 2008 um 5:36 am

Don’t I know how that is!

I am in the middle of prepping my own food blog atm, plus a recent layoff, and then the whole holidays thing.

Thank you kindly for such a fast and complete response. I appreciate it!

Helene January 10, 2008 um 5:39 am

Benedict: very sorry to hear about the layoff…but "yeah" for starting your blog..I will show up for the housewarming for sure!!

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