Vegan Blueberry Chocolate Cashew Mousse with Ganache
Chocolate is oftentimes my go-to when I’m short on ideas. A quick scroll through my blog and you’ll notice that it’s the most common ingredient in many of my recipes. But, can one really come up with too many chocolate things? I think not. This will make the third chocolate mousse to appear on my site. One of the goals I had for my blog this year was to be more inclusive in different ways of eating and preparing sweets.
And for those who are vegan (or have an intolerance to lactose), you’ll quickly discover traditional mousse recipes call for a lot of egg and dairy products. Although this is far from your traditional mousse, it’s still deliciously smooth, airy, and chocolatey with fresh, local blueberries speckled about giving a subtle flavor of summer with each bite. It’s then topped with chocolate ganache, made with coconut milk in place of the cream that is initially used.
In my previous recipe, I would use a combination of egg whites and heavy cream whipped to stiff peaks in order to get a smooth, yet light and airy texture. In place of the egg whites, I used aquafaba. The thick, sticky liquid from cooked legumes such as chickpeas. To make things easier, I simply used a can of organic chickpeas. Just drain the liquid into a bowl and whip like you would egg whites until stiff peaks form.
VEGAN BLUEBERRY CHOCOLATE CASHEW MOUSSE WITH GANACHE
for the mousse:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight in water then drained
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/3 cup organic coconut milk, hot
4 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
6 ounces vegan dark chocolate (80% cacao)
2 tablespoon coconut oil
15-ounce can organic chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained, but liquid reserved
for the ganache
4-ounces vegan dark chocolate (80% cacao)
5-ounces organic coconut milk (full-fat)
Chop the 4-ounces of chocolate into small pieces and place in a medium-sized bowl. In a saucepan, heat the coconut milk over medium heat until it begins to simmer; remove from heat and pour the hot milk over the chopped chocolate and give it a slight stir. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then stir until smooth. Use when ready.
In a bowl, heat the coconut milk until hot. Add the sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla and stir until combined; set aside until ready to use. In a separate bowl, completely melt the chocolate with the coconut oil (this can be done in the microwave). Place the soaked cashews in a blender with the blueberries, cocoa mixture, and melted chocolate and blend until smooth and creamy; this may take a few minutes depending on your blender. To test if it’s the right consistency, rub some of it between your fingers. If it’s smooth feeling it’s good, but if it feels gritty, blend it a bit more.
Drain the chickpeas in a strainer over a medium sized bowl to catch the liquid. This liquid is known as aquafaba and it’s a great substitute for egg whites. Beat the aquafaba with an electric hand mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.
With a spatula, carefully fold the beaten aquafaba into the chocolate-cashew mixture until fully combined. Spoon the mousse into small cups(I used small, glass cups that measure to about 1/2 cup) and fill them 3/4 of the way full.
Gently pour the ganache over the tops of the mousse. Cover each cup and place in the refrigerator until firm. About 2-3 hours. Top with sea salt or fresh blueberries, then serve.
Much of February was one of those months for me. After three weeks of absence, I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel when I thought of this chocolate vanilla sage mousse cake with pistachio and sea salt.
It’s a chapter every creative person faces more often than not: the depletion of their creative energy. It’s like sitting in a vacuum, where nothing new comes in or comes out, it’s just empty space. The worst part is feeling as though it will never go back to normal, thankfully it always does- in its own time. It is both a blessing and curse, the blessing being time to collect your thoughts, your sense of self, and to better understand your surroundings. The curse is the depressing thoughts that come with losing one of your outlets of expression. It’s like suddenly forgetting how to swim while you’re in the deepest part of the ocean.
The weather as of late has been but an early breath of spring, which is what helped bring a few ideas back to me. Many trees, shrubs, and flowers began to bloom three weeks in advance due to the warm winter season. I saw Bradford pear trees with their snow-like petals blowing in the wind, as well as cherry blossoms with their lush pink and red hues. I envisioned something chocolate being surrounded by all these blossoms, and that’s when this chocolate vanilla sage mousse cake with pistachio and sea salt came to fruition. It’s nothing too creative, to be honest. I have a chocolate mousse cake recipe rather similar to this one(also one of my most popular blog posts and recipe on this site).
By reading the title, you may be wondering, ‘why sage’? The truth is, my motto is to always add at least one fresh ingredient for the main flavoring agent in my baked goods, it is either a fruit, herb, or a vegetable. But it must be in season and at least somewhat local, to add to my motto. The sage was plucked from my sage plant in the front garden, which thrived all throughout this mild winter of ours. To my surprise, it complemented the chocolate rather well. It’s all very rich in every possible way, with hints of vanilla bean and sage all throughout the mousse. The brownie I would liken to fudge; it’s chewy and has a strong chocolate flavor.
CHOCOLATE VANILLA SAGE MOUSSE CAKE WITH PISTACHIO AND SEA SALT
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
seeds from (2) vanilla beans
1 cup coconut palm sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
7 fresh sage leaves, chopped
seeds from (2) vanilla beans
8-ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cups heavy cream
3 large egg whites
3 tablespoons sugar
roasted pistachio, for garnish
sea salt, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C. Prepare one, 8-inch cake pan by greasing the side and bottom then lining with parchment paper.
Create a double boiler by filling a medium-sized pot with about two inches of water, then placing a heatproof bowl over the pot, making sure that it doesn’t touch the water. Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add to the bowl the butter, vanilla bean seeds, coconut sugar, and cocoa powder. Stir occasionally with a spatula until the butter has melted completely and the sugar has somewhat dissolved as well. Remove from heat and let the mixture sit until slightly cooled- it should remain very warm, but not burning hot. You should be able to dip your finger in for five seconds without it burning you. Once it reaches this stage, add one egg and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until combined; repeat with the second egg. Add the flour and salt and stir until just combined and there are no flour streaks to be seen. Pour the chocolate into the prepared pan and spread around evenly. Bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it rest in the pan for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges with a sharp knife and invert onto a wire rack(keeping the parchment on the bottom)to cool completely. Tip: to speed up the cooling process place the brownie in the freezer until cool.
Place a medium sized bowl in the refrigerator to chill, along with the whisk attachment to an electric hand mixer.
In a small saucepan, add the butter, chopped sage leaves, and vanilla bean seeds. Cook on medium-low until the butter is melted and the sage becomes fragrant- about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, then remove the sage pieces. Place the butter in the refrigerator until firm again.
Create a double boiler and add the butter and chopped chocolate. Stir occasionally until the ingredients are melted completely. Then remove from heat.
Meanwhile, beat the egg whites in a medium bowl on high with an electric mixer. When they begin to gain volume, sprinkle in the three tablespoons of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
Pour the cream into the chilled bowl and beat with the chilled whisk(s) until soft peaks form.
After all this, the chocolate mixture should be warm (not hot) by now. Add the egg yolks and stir until combined.
Gently fold the whipped cream into the chocolate in two batches, making sure each batch is combined before adding another. Once the whipped cream is combined with the chocolate, begin to fold the egg whites in three batches, making sure each batch is fully combined before adding the next. There should be no streaks or clumps of white when finished.
Place the cooled brownie(with parchment paper still attached)in a well greased 8-inch cake pan. Then, very gently pour the mousse over the top and spread around evenly. Cover tightly with tin foil or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until firm, this will take up to six hours or you can leave it in overnight. I did the latter.
When the mousse is firm, heat a sharp knife in hot water until the blade is hot, then use it to loosen the mousse from around the edges of the pan. Firmly place the tin foil back on the pan with your hand placed in the center and gently flip until the cake falls out. Place on a flat surface and remove the parchment from the bottom of the brownie. Flip the cake back onto a cake and gently remove the foil. The mousse should not be messed up if this is done carefully.
Melt some chocolate and drizzle over the top of the cake, then top with chopped, roasted pistachio and sea salt. Cut with a hot knife and enjoy.
“I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
I haven’t put much thought into blogging or recipe writing during these last three weeks. To be honest, my mind just hasn’t been thinking about what I’m going to bake next, or what to post. But instead, what is right and what is wrong; truth, and not lies. It’s mentally exhausting keeping an informed mind about the happenings of the world; there’s so much discourse going on all at once it can really drive you into despondency. A little break can do one good.
January was, undoubtedly, a troublesome month for so many. The anger, disgust, and fear- they’re all legitimate responses to our current political situation in the United States. I myself have been battling pessimistic thoughts regarding our country’s new leadership. It’s quite difficult maintaining an optimistic outlook, but I am trying my best. It’s really important that we do, even more so that we continue loving each other through it all and not turn our hearts to hate. That we keep on doing what we can to make our world a better place for all to live in.
On a lighter note, I was able to contrive at least one recipe while on hiatus: this chocolate banana date cake. Delectable and light is every bite; much like powdered sugar that melts in your mouth upon arrival on the tongue. It is in every aspect, the perfect combination of chocolate and banana, with a hint of cinnamon. On every slice, a sticky, sweet date to account for the lack of extreme sweetness. It works well as a midnight snack, or breakfast when you’re feeling like cake. It goes rather well with a hot cup of coffee, too. I shall close in saying that it’s completely gluten-free and dairy-free, as well as being utterly delicious if I haven’t stated that enough.
CHOCOLATE BANANA DATE CAKE
2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 large eggs, room temp.
4 dates, pitted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup almond milk
4 more dates, pitted and halved
Preheat oven 350°F / 177°C. Grease and line a 9-inch cake pan.
In a blender/food processor, blend together the four pitted dates and two bananas until smooth. set aside. Slice four more dates into halves and remove the pits. Set aside for later use.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the rice flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
In an electric mixer with whisks attached, beat the sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla on medium speed until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating on low until each one is fully incorporated. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl once more. Add the banana mixture, half of the flour, and half of the almond milk; beat on medium speed until combined, then add the remaining flour and almond milk until the flour is just combined and no white streaks can be seen. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and evenly spread around. Place the halved dates on top of the batter, insides facing up. Do not press them into the batter, they should only be resting on top of the cake. Bake for 30-45 minutes, checking for doneness at 35 minutes by using a toothpick; if it comes out clean it is done, if it comes out wet, bake in three minutes segments until it does come out clean and the cake springs back up after being lightly touched. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. When cool, dust with powdered sugar if desired.
December, despite being born in this month, there’s not much I really look forward to in it except for my birthday, Christmas, and the closing of another year and the beginning of another year alive. It can be a depressing month, mainly due to the scenery and the weather. It gets quite windy where I am located and the house is surrounded by a forest of trees so everything becomes quite dull and lifeless looking blowing in the wind. The grass turns brittle and the trees gray and spiritless without their coat of leaves. Winter reminds me just how quickly the other seasons fade, as it always seems the longest. It also makes me appreciate the other seasons a lot more.
When it comes to my creativity, it usually relies on the mood of the day. I’m somewhat one with the weather, all it takes is a cold, cloudy day to bring me into the depths of despair. For photography, especially food, December light can be difficult to work with. By the time I’m back from work and done test baking, the light is practically gone and I hadn’t even decided what backdrop to use.. and it’s only four o’clock in the afternoon.
Anyway, I could honestly go on about the depressing things about December and just the season of winter in general, but let’s skip that because I’m sure you probably share the same if you’re not a winter person; if you happen to be a winter person, well, good for you! I won’t understand why, but that’s okay. I once was, but I honestly don’t know why I enjoyed it. I think it was because I was a child, born and raised without knowing what cold actually felt like. Up until I moved to Virginia, wearing a sundress and flip flops to my Grandmother’s Christmas dinner was normal. Now, I actually have to wear pants.
Now, let’s talk chocolate cake. My birthday was just last week and I decided to bake my own cake for the occasion for the very first time. I think it’s a tradition I should start doing every year. My youngest sister insisted I wasn’t allowed to do such a thing, but by who’s authority, I persisted! I did most everything the night before to save time, but really, I don’t think I saved much time at all. I still found myself with this cake four hours later while the rest of the family anxiously awaited its arrival onto the kitchen counter top so they could eat it.
A little while ago I began adding a fruit jam to my cakes. It adds an exceptionally moist and tender crumb when you do so! The frosting includes chocolate pudding, then once it is on the cake, more chocolate in the form of ganache. As you probably know if you take a brisk scroll through my blog, I am chocolate obsessed. I also happen to love cake, so I have quite a few chocolate cake variations on this site. I’ve learned so much about baking cake in the year that has passed since I’ve started this blog journey- so much so, that I look back to a few of the cakes I’ve made and think to myself, “why the heck did I make it that way?”. You live and you learn, as C.S. Lewis so truthfully wrote,
“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”
DARK CHOCOLATE POMEGRANATE CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE
100 grams dark cocoa powder ( 1 1/4 cups )
1 cup boiling water
175g unsalted butter, room temp.
500g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
4 large eggs, room temp.
250g cake flour ( 2 cups + 2 tablespoons )
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
300g milk, room temp.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
Chocolate frosting and Ganache:
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa powdered
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
for the jam:
Scrape the seeds out from the pomegranate and place them in a small saucepan along with the 1/2 cup sugar and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring the mixer often, until the sugar dissolves; reduce to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes until the fruit is soft and has broken down some. Remove from heat and press the jam through a fine mesh sieve with a bowl underneath. Discard the seeds from the sieve and bring the jam to room temperature.
In a medium-sized, heat-proof bowl, add the cocoa powder; pour the boiling water over the cocoa and let it sit for 10 minutes, then stir until smooth; set aside and bring to room temperature.
Once all the ingredients have reached room temperature, begin on the cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare three, 8-inch round cake pans in the usual way: grease, parchment paper, then a light coat of grease over the paper.
Using an electric standing mixer with whisks attached, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy- about 7-8 minutes on medium-high speed. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder, set aside. Once the butter and sugar have been creamed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium-low speed after each addition as well as scraping down the sides of the bowl and beaters with a spatula.
Add the cooled cocoa mixture, pomegranate jam, a third of the flour, and a third of the milk to the butter mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Scrape down the bowl and add the remaining flour on medium speed while streaming in the rest of the milk, beat until combined. Pour batter equally amongst the three prepared pans and evenly spread around. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops of the cakes quickly spring back up when lightly touched.
Cool the cakes 10 minutes in their pans then gently use a knife to loosen the cakes from around the edges of the pan and invert onto cooling racks to cool completely for about 1-2 hours.
for the frosting and ganache:
Place a medium-sized heatproof bowl in the freezer so it will be chilled for later use.
In a small saucepan, bring the milk, vanilla, and cocoa powder to a simmer over medium-low heat then turn off the heat.
Heat a double boiler over medium heat and add the egg yolks and sugar. Stir with a whisk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is pale yellow. Continue to whisk the mixture and slowly stream in the milk. Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir constantly until thickened. Once, thickened, remove from heat and immediately pour the pudding into the chilled bowl and whisk briskly till the pudding is cool to the touch.
Now, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cooled pudding(be sure it doesn’t have the slightest warmth to it or else the butter will melt) on medium speed until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of extra cocoa powder and a pinch of salt; beat on medium-high speed till the mixture is fluffy and becomes slightly pale in color(about 4 minutes or so).
For the ganache: finely chop the bittersweet chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in the microwave or on the stovetop. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for five minutes undisturbed then stir until smooth. Let the mixture cool so it can reach a spreadable consistency.
Assemble the cake:
Place the first layer on a cake board/cake stand/plate and spoon about 3/4 cup of frosting onto the top. Evenly spread around then place the second layer, top-side down onto the first layer. Spread another 3/4 cup of frosting and place the third and final layer on top, again, top-side of the layer facing down onto the previous layer. Add the remaining frosting to the top and sides of the cake. Place the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes so the frosting can firm up some. Once the frosting is somewhat firm to the touch, add the ganache and spread around the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with edible flowers and greenery(optional).
I don’t know about you, but Thanksgiving quickly crept up on me this year. I feel that was 2016 in general as everything flew by so quickly; birthdays, the seasons, holidays. It makes me somewhat sad, but happy at the same time. I would say Thanksgiving is somewhat bittersweet for me. I love the food and family time(even though it can be a bit crazy at times), but it pains me to say goodbye to autumn and hello to winter, which happens to be my least favorite time of the year due to the cold.
Anyway, this recipe was sort of a last minute idea and something I wanted to post before I hop on a plane and head south for Thanksgiving. It’s a deliciously tart, cranberry tart with the addition of citrus and bittersweet chocolate- two, very complementary flavors to cranberry if I do say so. It reminded me so much of my favorite chocolate bar: dark, not-so-sweet, with crunchy pieces of dried orange peel speckled throughout each bite. The crust is crumbly with a nutty and slightly sweet flavor. It almost reminds me of cherry pie.
I will say I’ve never once liked cranberries. Well, until recently. The only time we’d eat them would be at Thanksgiving and they were in the form of the ever so popular canned cranberry sauce. Incredibly sweet stuff and not at all of my liking. But, like most things, you have to start with fresh ingredients and see if you truly like or dislike them. I despise most anything that comes in a can now, so it’s my motto to always use fresh when possible. I try to bake by the seasons. And so, I found my love for cranberries when I decided to use them fresh. The filling for this tart I could eat by the spoonful as it’s just so delicious! While simmering away in the saucepan with the citrus, cloves, and cinnamon it lets out the most amazing scent as it floats about the house.
Speaking of cloves, be sure to remove all of them before pouring the filling into the tart shell. I accidently left two or three pieces inside and they made their way into my mouth. Biting into cloves isn’t very appetizing, as they’re a bit potent, to say the least.
CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY ORANGE TART
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup super-fine almond flour
4-ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 large egg (+ 2 tablespoons of a smaller, slightly beaten egg), room temp.
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 orange slices
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cups fresh cranberries
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon cornstarch
8-ounces bittersweet chocolate; chopped finely
4-ounces heavy cream
sea salt for sprinkling (optional)
With an electric standing mixer, add the softened butter, vanilla, and salt. Cream till smooth and just combined. Add the confectioner’s sugar and almond flour and mix on medium until just combined. Add the flour and large egg, mix until it comes together, and add the two tablespoons of the beaten egg. Mix on medium until the dough comes together(don’t over beat). It should be a very soft dough. Once finished, tightly wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours(until firm). Once firm, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a large rectangle or circle(depending on the tart pan you’re using). Gently roll the dough onto the rolling pin and place into the tart pan. carefully press the dough into the pan till it’s fitted, then using a fork, poke holes all around the bottom. Place in the refrigerator until firm again; while it’s doing so, preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C. Once preheated, brush the tart with egg wash (1 egg + 1 teaspoon water, beaten) and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the edges shine and are slightly golden and the bottom is cooked through. Cool completely.
Bump the oven heat up to 375° F.
In a medium sized saucepan, add the freshly squeezed orange juice, orange slices, cloves, cinnamon, and then the cranberries. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cranberries have popped; remove the orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and cloves. In a small bowl add two teaspoons of water to the cornstarch and stir until combined. Add this mixture to the cranberries and cook, stirring over medium heat until somewhat thickened. Pour the cranberries into the cooled tart shell and evenly spread around. Sprinkle the orange zest over the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and cool completely. Once cooled, remove from tart pan.
Chop the chocolate finely and place in a bowl that holds heat well. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it begins to steam. Pour over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Spread around the top of the tart and let it harden. Garnish the top with flaked sea salt or orange zest and serve.