Posted by Grace Massa Langlois on Friday, 24th February 2012
I love to entertain and these mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cakes are the types of desserts I like to prepare for a cocktail party or a barbecue. I usually make a trio of mini desserts, including a cake option and a couple of “spoon” desserts (what Italians like to refer to as “Dolci al Cucchiaio“). This provides a variety from which my guests can choose and because they’re small enough, they can (and usually do) indulge in more than one.
And I’ll tell you a secret about me. I actually enjoy the preparations as much as the party. I love everything from choosing the menu, to cooking and setting the scene for the party. I used to drive Moe crazy during the preparations. That’s because everything always had to be “just so” and he would always say, “You’re making way too much food!” He was usually right but I’m a firm believer that you can never have too much food or drink at a party. It’s better to have too much rather than not enough, don’t you agree?
Plus you never know when you’re going to have a few extra guests join in on the fun. The last thing I want to be worrying about when my family and friends are here is if I have enough food to feed everyone. And I’ve never met a guest that wasn’t happy to take treats home. We used to entertain often especially outdoors in the warmer summer months. We even designed our backyard around the whole concept of entertaining. Our family and friends refer to it as our “resort”. At times it felt like we were entertaining every weekend.
It sure was a ton of work.
Here’s another secret about me. I miss those days.
I learned a valuable lesson from entertaining so often. It’s called KISS – keep it simple, stupid!
It took me a while to come to that conclusion. I had to be dragged along kicking and screaming, but I eventually got there. And thankfully so. Entertaining can be stressful in and of itself, but if you make it too complicated you end up missing all the fun because you’re worried about one thing or another.
Now I’ll let you in on yet another secret. These Mousse Cakes are one of my favourite simple recipes for entertaining.
How can Mousse Cakes be considered simple, you ask?
They actually take only a little time to prepare and they can be prepared ahead of time. This recipe also makes quite a few servings and can easily be doubled. Another big plus in my book is that there’s no baking involved. And the cakes can also be served frozen. That makes it a perfect summer dish!
If you think I’m done listing the reasons why these Mousse Cakes are the perfect “simple” party dessert, well, I’ve got another little surprise for you.
I’ve saved the best for last. What’s the best reason for serving these peanut butter delights? – The taste! I love the salty-sweet combination and I like the play on textures. For the crust I used a combination of Oreo crumbs and pecans making sure the pecans weren’t processed too finely to give the crust a bit of a crunch. The pecans also gave the crust a nutty flavour. In fact, there’s a nutty motif throughout the dessert; first in the pecan crust, then in the velvety mousse and finally again when garnished with the chopped peanuts.
You can accuse me of gilding the lily on this one, but it had to be done. I added just a touch of chocolate lusciousness with a fudgy ganache.
So, why am I sharing with you this perfect summer dessert today? It may be a mild winter, but it’s still February!
Well, my nephew, Corey, is visiting for the weekend. Corey lived with us for a while a couple of years back and he hasn’t been for a visit since moving back to Ottawa. Our house always seems full of friends (I have two teenagers), but since Corey’s here it feels even more festive than usual. Corey came with a few cravings, such as Aunt Grace’s “famous ribs” and homemade pasta.
I knew the house would be filled with young adults so I made a mess of ribs and Texas cut fries for dinner last night. I opted to serve the Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cakes frozen and they were the perfect sweet ending to the meal.
I wanted to show you the versatility of this simple dessert recipe so I plated it three different ways, mini mousse cakes, mini Peanut Butter Parfaits and also cheesecake style with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Enjoy!
Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cakes
Makes about 20 mini cakes (1¾-inch x 2-inch)
Special Equipment 1¾-inch x 2-inch ring moulds
- Oreo and Pecan Crust
- Peanut Butter Mousse
- Chocolate Fudge Sauce
Oreo and Pecan Crust
- 100 grams (2/3 cup) pecans, toasted, well chilled (to prevent natural oils from seeping out when processing)
- 182 grams (2 cups) Oreo baking crumbs or chocolate wafers
- 39 g (3 tablespoons) golden yellow sugar (light brown sugar)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon Roasted Saigon Cinnamon or cinnamon
- 71 g (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
- Line base and inside of moulds with non-stick baking paper. To line base of moulds, cut non-stick baking paper into 20 5-cm (2-inch) squares. Lay paper squares, side by side, on rimmed baking sheet. Place one mould on each square. To make collars to line inside of moulds, cut non-stick baking paper into 20 15¼-cm X 5-cm (6-inch x 2-inch) strips. Place one collar in each mould.
- In bowl of food processor, pulse pecans until finely chopped.
- Add baking crumbs, sugar, salt and cinnamon and pulse to combine well. (If using chocolate wafers, remove nuts from bowl, pulse wafers to a fine crumb. Return pecans to the bowl, add sugar, salt and cinnamon and pulse to combine well.)
- With processor running, add melted butter through the feed tube and pulse until crumb mixture is evenly moistened.
- Press 20 g (1½ tablespoons) crumb mixture into the base of each mould. Loosely drape a sheet of plastic wrap over moulds and transfer baking sheet to the refrigerator to chill crust.
Peanut Butter Mousse
- 240 ml (1 cup) heavy cream, 35%, well chilled
- 133 g (1 cup + 1 tablespoon) confectioners’ sugar
- 250 g (1 cup + 2/3 tablespoon or 1 brick) cream cheese, softened
- 255 g (1 cup + 1 tablespoon) smooth peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- In bowl of stand mixer fitted with whip attachment, beat cream and 1-tablespoon confectioners’ sugar at high speed to stiff peaks. Transfer whipped cream to a clean bowl, cover and refrigerate.
- In bowl of stand mixer (it’s not necessary to clean the bowl) fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, peanut butter and vanilla at medium-high speed, scraping down sides, bottom of bowl and paddle attachment, until well combined, smooth and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Remove bowl from mixer. Using a fine mesh sieve, sift confectioners’ sugar overtop peanut butter mixture. Return bowl to mixer and re-attach paddle. Beat peanut butter mixture at low speed, scraping down sides, bottom of bowl and paddle attachment, to just combine. Increase mixer speed to high and beat until smooth and fluffy.
- Remove bowl from mixer. Using a large flexible spatula, fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture in three additions.
- Remove moulds from refrigerator. Transfer mousse to a large pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe mousse over base filling to the top of the moulds. Use the back of a demitasse spoon to level the mousse. Again, loosely drape the plastic wrap over the moulds and transfer to the freezer to chill until set.
Chocolate Fudge Sauce
- 113 g (4 ounces) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 105 ml (1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons) heavy cream, 35%
- ¾ tablespoon corn syrup
- Place chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.
- In a small saucepan, bring cream and corn syrup just to a simmer over medium heat. Pour cream mixture over the chocolate and let stand, 2 minutes.
- Using a spatula, stir the chocolate beginning in the centre of the bowl and working towards the edge pulling in as much chocolate as possible, until the sauce is smooth and glossy.
- If not using immediately, sauce can be refrigerated up to 5 days in an airtight container. Reheat before using.
- Peanuts, coarsely chopped
- Chocolate curls
- Remove cakes from freezer. Carefully remove moulds and collars. Transfer to the refrigerator to thaw.
- To serve, transfer cakes to small dessert plates. (If you are hosting a cocktail party, plate cakes on a rectangular shaped serving platter or place each cake first on a chinese spoon and then plate spoons on rectangular shaped serving platter.) Spoon about 2 teaspoons fudge sauce over each cake. Garnish with chopped peanuts and chocolate curls.
- Buon Appetito!
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Posted in Baking & Pastry, Baking Mise en Place, Basics, Cakes & Cheesecakes, Custards, Creams & Mousses, Fillings, Frostings & Dessert Sauces, Mini Desserts, Piccola Pasticceria, Recipes, Ricette di Base, Torte