Caramel Mousse with Caramel Sauce and Hazelnuts

serves 8 - 10 (but, of course, it depends on how much mousse you use for each serving. When I made this, I had enough for 8 - 10 wine glasses with a nice serving of mousse in each one or probably about 36 individual tasting spoons.)

for the Caramel Mousse:

  • 2¾  cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 Tablespoons cool water, divided
  • 1¼ teaspoon powdered gelatin
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon course sea salt or to taste 

For the Caramel Sauce:

  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream

Topping:

  • ½ cup hazelnuts

Make the Mousse:

Whip 2 cups of heavy cream and vanilla until soft peaks form. Refrigerate.

Mix sugar and 6 Tablespoons of water in a medium size sauce pan.  Place over medium heat until it begins to turn from a pale amber to rich caramel color, approximately 8 minutes.  Immediately remove from the heat as the sugar will continue to darken as it cools.  Important note: do not stir the mixture once it’s on the heat; just let it heat to the proper color.  If you need to stir in some sugar crystals that have accumulated on the sides of the pan, gently swirl the pan.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly but do not stir.

Slowly whisk ¾ cup heavy cream into the caramel - the caramel will tend to bubble up as you add the cream. Set aside to cool slightly.

As the caramel is cooling, bloom the gelatin: sprinkle powdered gelatin into 2 Tablespoons of cool water.  Allow it to sit for 3 to 5 minutes, but don't let it become firm.

Whisk gelatin and sea salt into warm caramel.  Let cool a little more.  Gently fold caramel into whipped cream.  

Refrigerate until completely cold. 

Make the Caramel Sauce:

Place sugar in a heavy 3 quart pan over medium-high heat. As the sugar begins to melt, whisk vigorously. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring. You can swirl the pan a bit if you want, from this point on. As soon as the sugar has melted and is a golden amber color,  add the butter to the pan. Shut off heat. Whisk until the butter has melted.

Slowly add the cream to the pan and continue to whisk. It is normal for the cream to foam up when it's added - just keep whisking.  Whisk until the caramel is smooth and has no lumps.  Pour into a heat proof container and let it cool to room temperature.  If you are not using it right away, store in the refrigerator and warm it up a little before serving so it is pourable.

Toast the hazelnuts:

Preheat the oven to 425° F.  Lay the hazelnuts out onto a foil lined pan.  Toast for about 5 minutes.  Remove hazelnuts and place on a clean kitchen towel.  Wrap them in the towel and rub them vigorously- this will remove the dark skins.  Place the hazelnuts in a plastic bag and take something heavy like a meat pounder or wine bottle and pound them until they are chopped finely. 

Serve by either spooning the mousse into serving dishes or piping the mousse using a pastry bag with a large tip. Drizzle a little caramel sauce over each portion and top with the hazelnuts.

The Italian Dish
theitaliandishblog.com

Mousse recipe adapted slightly from Harrison House