Most of the time my home baking revolves around keeping bread stocked and making fun (mostly seasonal) things to share here or for some other specific reason. But then sometimes I get a craving and something sounds so good so I have to make it. Bring in the Spiced Turtle Mousse Pie.
I don't know why but lately I've just had my mind set on caramel turtles. I knew I had pecans, I live for chocolate, and sometimes it just hits you. I didn't want to deal with tempered chocolate for real caramel turtles and mousse sounded easy enough. So I whipped up a pie. I used chocolate Danish shortbread cookies (I have a recipe for you) for a crust, caramel layer on the bottom with some toasted pecans, then topped it all with a chocolate mousse. This mousse recipe is a simple classic mousse. I use it a lot for various creations because it holds true to a real mouse using eggs but isn't too difficult to orchestrate in your kitchen. I feel like mousse has a bad rep for being difficult but there are points along the way to make it smooth. Don't worry, I'll guide you through it. But first the recipe.
Spiced Caramel Turtle Mousse Pie
14 oz. Chocolate Cookie (Recipe below or use Oreos!)
3.5 oz. Unsalted Butter or Coconut Oil, melted
Crumble the cookies and place into a medium bowl. I used a food processor but you can also do it in a bag with a rolling pin.
Add the melted butter (or coconut oil) and mix fully.
Press into an even layer in a ungreased pie pan. The butter will keep it from sticking.
Allow to sit, refrigerate if necessary.
200g Granulated Sugar
60g Corn Syrup or Honey
30g Unsalted Butter
125g Heavy Whipping Cream
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Clove
1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
6 oz. Pecans, toasted and chopped
In a medium sized pot, place the water, syrup, and sugar.
Heat on medium high until boiling. Continue to cook until it caramelizes slightly.
While sugar is cooking, mix the spices with the cream and heat either in a pan or in the microwave. Should be barely steaming.
When sugar is caramelized slightly, add the butter and mix in fully.
Add the cream slowly to avoid overflow from boiling. If the mixture is thickening, return to medium heat briefly to warm up until cream is fully combined.
Add the salt and vanilla then pour caramel into a clean heat safe bowl.
Allow to cool. Save 1-2 ounces for decoration.
Once cooled, mix in about 2/3s of the chopped pecans and spread into the prepared crust. Refrigerate until mousse is made, save remaining pecans for top.
2 ea. Eggs, separated
140g Granulated Sugar, separated
315g Heavy Whipping Cream, separated
115g Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
1 tsp Vanilla
In a heat safe bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 40g sugar and 65g heavy whipping cream.
In a separate bowl (on a mixer if you have one), whip remaining cream (250g) to medium-stiff peaks. Whipped cream should not look grainy. Refrigerate until needed.
Place the egg yolk mixture over a pot of simmering water. Cook to 170°F. Once cooked, remove and add chocolate. Melt into custard and add vanilla. Set aside until reaches below 100°F.
In another heat safe bowl, whisk the egg whites with the remaining sugar (100g).
Heat egg whites over the simmering water until it reaches 165°F. Once heated, whisk into a meringue until it cools down. Hand mixer works great for this.
Once meringue is cooled and chocolate melted, custard should be cooled and you can make the mousse. Fold about 1/3 of meringue into the chocolate custard. This can be a little rough so stirring is okay to help get the mixtures to fully combine.
Nearing the end of mixing, add another 1/3 and fold in, this time be gentler.
Add the last of the meringue and fold in.
Repeat process again with whipped cream, going 1/3 at a time. Finish in the bowl the cream was whipped in.
Spread onto the caramel layer. Drizzle with caramel sauce now if desired and swirl in. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Decorate top with chopped pecans or reserved caramel sauce. I used chocolate curls as well (tip below).
Chocolate Danish Shortbread Cookies
155g Unsalted Butter, soft
60g Powdered Sugar
190g All Purpose Flour
25g Cocoa Powder
In a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes.
Add the salt and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
Mix the flour and cocoa powder in a separate bowl then add to sugar mixture. Beat until fully incorporated.
Roll into a log and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Cut into 1/8th inch cookies and bake in a 350°F oven until center is mostly dry.
Allow to cool before using.
Okay, so let's talk more about mousse. May seem intimidating but let me calm those nerves. First thing is make sure to have a game plan. Have things measured out so you aren't rushing later. The sugar and egg whites and the custard mixture can sit while whipping the cream. Follow the order and you will be fine. It's just three bowls and marrying them into fluffy, silky, chocolatey perfection.
Whip the cream first. Always do that. It can sit in the fridge for awhile and mostly will only need a quick few hits with a whisk and be ready to go. If you don't have fridge space leave in the coolest area of the kitchen and whisk a little before using. Next, make the custard. The chocolate needs time to melt and that will also give it time to cool. Make sure to stir with a spatula constantly and take it off as soon as it reaches 170°F. You don't need a thick custard and with such a small amount it can curdle easily. Last the meringue. Easy. It's a swiss meringue so the whites don't easily burn. Stir every few minutes at first then near the end stir more. Once it hits 165°F, it's safe to eat and can be whipped up. This won't get super stiff and that's okay. We just need some extra sweetness and a little air to make it lighter.
When you do the folding, the first 1/3 I call the sacrifice. If you don't get much air from it that's okay. These are two mixtures that need coaching to like each other. The second and final 1/3 is where you want to be more gentle and fold. Scrape all around, scrape off the spatula to keep streaks away. This was literally a grade in school to make mousse without streaks, the spatula easily betrays you. By finishing the mousse in the cream bowl, you also will be safer from getting lumps. The bowls cooked in may have sugar granules or egg lumps. This will keep them at bay and out of the final mousse.
Once all three parts are together you have mousse. It's really simple and I'll admit it get's scary for me too sometimes. But go in with a plan and knowing what comes next makes it easier. And if something sits too long that's okay. The cream can be rewhipped if it deflates, the custard will mix in anywhere from 65ish-95°F. The important thing is to cool them to not deflate the cream, but they still will fold at lower temps. I try to aim for 85ish°F for best results.
Sometimes it's hard being a pastry chef. I believe you can eat anything as long as you make it, knowing how to make so much it's hard to say no. A few more things to leave behind though are some tips for this recipe and what I did.
The chocolate curls I bought but they can easily be replicated. A bar of chocolate and a peeler is all you need to make them real quick. If you don't want more chocolate even for decoration, make a little vanilla crème Chantilly (vanilla whipped cream) and pipe on top or even do a nice rustic dollop in the center. The finish is really up to you so have fun with it.
As always let me know how it goes if you make this at home or make any changes! This is a classic little pie that required no oven so it's perfect for a hot summer day when you don't want to bake but still want something sweet.