Ch. 23: Vegan Coconut-Chocolate Mousse- a true pantry staple

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I’d been going pretty heavy on the desserts lately and wanted to make something that could satisfy my sweet tooth, yet wouldn’t leave me feeling too guilty. Let’s face it- dessert is indulgent. However, that doesn’t mean you have to load up on sugar and fat every time you feel like treating yourself. I came across this recipe from Molly Baz of Bon Appetit for a Vegan Chocolate Mousse which really intrigued me. I still hadn’t delved too deep into the world of vegan desserts, but I was riding that high from the ultra delicious vegan chocolate tart the other week. Probably the most interesting part of this is that it’s made up almost entirely out of pantry staples- or at least stuff that’s pretty shelf stable. Mousse is known for being light and decadent, so I really couldn’t see how I’d be able to whip up something resembling mousse without the need for eggs or cream- but I was up for the challenge. 

The recipe starts off with coconut milk, but really that’s where the familiarity ends. Depending on what brand you buy, most canned coconut milk tends to separate into two distinct layers- the “coconut cream” as you could call it that’s solid and almost resembles coconut oil, as well as the “coconut water” which is the opaque liquid underneath. If your brand doesn’t have this separated nature, some time in the fridge could help. The fat is common in vegan cooking because it can be whipped to resemble whipped cream. We start off by setting the coconut cream aside and discarding all but 2 tbsp of the coconut liquid. That liquid is added to a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the coconut cream as well as some chocolate which is melted over a double boiler. Once melted, the chocolate mix is cooled while the remaining cream chills out in the fridge for later. Now here’s where it gets weird. The recipe then calls for a can of chickpeas- did I lose you yet? Apparently the thick liquid from chickpeas AKA “aquafaba” can be whipped up to the consistency of meringue. Just like egg whites, the aquafaba gets whipped together with salt and cream of tartar before coconut sugar is sprinkled in. I was in awe, watching this grossly yellow liquid turn into thick, fluffy vegan meringue. The chocolate and meringue are then introduced to each other through a series of folds until the mix is cohesive. It’s then poured out into ramekins or whatever serving dishes you want and set to chill in the fridge. The last component here is the “whipped cream” or in this case, “whipped coconut cream”. It’s as easy as taking that chilled coconut cream and beating it together with some coconut sugar until smooth. I dolloped large servings of the whipped coconut cream on top of the mousses (meese?) and sprinkled on some extra coconut sugar as garnish. 

So how did they stack up? Really well actually! The mousse has a deep and rich chocolate flavor with absolutely no hints of “beany-ness” from the chickpeas. The coconut whipped cream is excellent too- perfectly paired with the mousse for a chocolate-coconut lover’s dream. If you haven’t used coconut sugar before, I’d definitely recommend it. It has only a slight coconut flavor, but is more akin to a raw sugar or even light brown sugar. It’s also less refined, which I read could be a better alternative to granulated sugar. In terms of flavor, I did end up adding some extra sweetness in the form of agave as the chocolate mousse was a bit on the bitter side. But really, when eaten with the whipped cream, it balanced out well. The only flaw with this dish is the texture. My coconut milk separated almost entirely into solid fat and liquid, so it was hard to whip the coconut cream until fully smooth. There were some chunky bits- almost like solidified coconut oil which sort of broke the illusion of eating real whipped cream. It could just be the brand I was using. All in all, I’d call this one a win as it makes something as rich and decadent as chocolate mousse more accessible to those with food restrictions. I also love the fact that nearly all of the ingredients are shelf stable- meaning you can have this mousse whenever you want to indulge.

Full Method | Recipe by Molly Baz of Bon Appetit

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/coconut-chocolate-mousse

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