The gastronomic romanticist in me likes to believe that every ingredient has the potential to be delicious. That an aversion to a certain food is merely the result of poor preparation rather than the ingredient itself.
Though I know that this philosophy is in many ways strictly fanciful, I do believe that this theory is often reasonably accurate.
Meet Illicium Verum, or, as she is more commonly known, Star Anise. She is the darling of the spice cabinet, yet so often she is unfairly disregarded.
Let me take a moment to say that black, sticky, sugary candies have ruined many a palate’s appreciate for the delicate flavor of anise. I was one such victim, until my eyes were opened by a small bowl of fluffy, creamy, oh-so-light, mousse in which anise made an appearance. In short, please give anise a second chance.
After trying that wonderful mousse I knew I had to recreate it and, after much recipe testing and reconstructing, success was achieved.
This mousse is fragrant with the deep, rich, flavors of maple syrup and the anise provides a lovely, spicy after note. It is light and not too sweet, making it the perfect dessert amongst the numerous pies and doughnuts this season offers. I am already planning your Thanksgiving menu. Too soon?
This mousse is topped with our incredibly addicting and versatile salted pistachio brittle. The brittle adds a much appreciated textural element as well as a hint of salt.
I cannot begin to describe how phenomenal this mousse truly is. Each flavor is perfectly balanced in a mousse so light and airy that you really cannot stop eating it.
Let’s give gastronomical romanticism a chance, shall we?
Maple and Anise Mousse
- 1/2 cup amber grade B maple syrup
- 2 stars whole anise, depending on your taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 2 tablespoons filtered water
- 1 1/4 cup heavy cream, divided
- 4 fresh egg yolks
- 2 fresh egg whites, cold
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- pinch of kosher salt
- salted pistachio brittle, for topping
In a small bowl combine water and gelatin. Reserve for later use.
Combine egg yolks and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until the yolks begin to lighten in color, about 1-2 minutes.
In a small saucepan combine maple syrup and star anise and place over medium high heat. Bring the syrup to a boil and cook for 5-7 minutes until the syrup has darkened slightly in color and reduced to about 1/3 of a cup or has reached 225 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and remove star anise.
With the mixer on medium speed, slowly pour syrup into the egg yolks. Return the emptied syrup saucepan to the heat and place gelatin in the pan. When the gelatin has melted, remove from heat and add to the mixture in the stand mixer. Beat on medium high speed for 4-6 minutes, until the mixture is thick and fluffy and has tripled in volume.
Gently fold the whipped maple mixture into a large bowl. Clean the bowl and beater of your stand mixer and place egg whites in the cleaned bowl. Beat on high speed, and slowly sprinkle in granulated sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form, then transfer egg whites to a separate bowl and reserve.
Beat 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream on high speed until thick and fluffy. Gently fold the whipped cream into the maple mixture, rotating the bowl as you fold. Fold in egg whites in two additions, working gently.
Divide the mousse amongst six ramekins and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for two hours, until set.
Beat remaining whipping cream to soft peaks and crumble brittle into small pieces. When the mousse has set, top with whipped cream and brittle and serve. Enjoy!