Up here in the North, maple syrup season is often the first real sign of spring. There’s something invigorating about standing on a crunchy remnant of shrinking snow and peering into a bucket filled with maple sap, a promise of sweet things ahead, the beginning of the land thawing out and coming back to life after its long slumber.
For anyone who follows my blog, it will come as no surprise that maple syrup is a staple more common even than flour in my pantry. I’m not sure what I’d become without maple syrup, I use it to sweeten most of my desserts, and even to make my all-time favourite pie! As my dad likes to say, maple syrup is a gift from the trees, and all that’s required of us to accept that gift is to make a small hole in a tree and gratefully collect the sap, and then boil it down to get that heavenly golden syrup. It’s a slow process, but there’s nothing particularly complicated about it, and as my dad loves to point out, you don’t need a fancy boiler or sugar shack to do it. He just boils the sap in a big pot on his woodstove.
There’s some kind of magic that happens when you combine whipped cream and maple syrup. This rich decadent mousse is an unabashed celebration of that perfect marriage.
I first tasted this dessert when my stepdad made it for a recipe contest at a family reunion. It was awarded a proud first prize ribbon and soon became one of his signature desserts. A few years ago, I found myself pining to recreate the exquisite flavour and I was grateful that he still had the recipe written down and was able to share it with me.
Now. This is certainly not one for the faint-hearted, heavy with cream and egg yolks as it is, but I promise it will keep you coming back for more and have everyone licking their lips! There are a few things to love about this recipe: for starters, it’s a no-bake dessert so you won’t need to turn your oven on. I also love that it bypasses refined sugar altogether; the sweetness comes entirely from the maple syrup… and the raisins. Yes, that’s right, the raisins. Now before you start to scheme about leaving them out (I certainly tried to!), I’ve got to say that they really do lend a lovely chew and flavor and this mousse would not be the same without them. The same can be said for the sliced almonds. But if you prefer, you can certainly opt out of either and truly make it all about the maple syrup and cream.
You can either serve this mousse in one large shallow bowl or as individual servings in shallow glasses or jars. I recommend the individual servings so that you don’t have to ruin the beautiful presentation by having to scoop out big messy dollops into separate bowls.
Sometimes though, it’s nice to present the whole wonderful mess in one big bowl, especially if it’s a dessert you’re taking somewhere. And the big messy dollops are actually part of the great pleasure of this dessert. Either way, the taste is going to be amazing! Enjoy!!
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 envelope (2 1/2 tsp.) gelatin
- 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds, lightly toasted
- 1 Tbsp rum or brandy
- Optional for garnish: cocoa powder, chocolate curls, sliced almonds, maple syrup
- Place the water in a medium bowl and sprinkle the gelatine on top; set aside for 5 minutes. In a saucepan, heat the maple syrup over medium heat until warm but not too hot. Whisk the warmed syrup into the gelled water mixture until smooth, thick, and bubbly.
- Whip the egg yolks until light and frothy. Add the whipped egg yolks into the syrup mixture, whisking vigorously. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for about 30 to 60 minutes, stirring the mixture frequently, so that it thickens but doesn’t fully set.
- Using a rubber spatula, stir the raisins and most of the slivered almonds (reserving some as a garnish) into the thickened syrup mixture.
- Beat the heavy cream until soft peaks are formed; set aside about a quarter of the whipped cream for the garnish. Gently fold in the other three-quarters of the whipped cream into the thickened syrup mixture until everything is well mixed. Pour the mousse into one medium-large shallow serving bowl (5-cup capacity) or into 6 to 8 individual glasses or jars (wide-rimmed wine glasses work well for this).
- Refrigerate the mousse and the reserved whipped cream for 2 hours (and up to 24 hours) to set. Just before serving, gently whip the rum or brandy into the remaining whipped cream. Decorate the mousse with a dusting of cocoa powder, dollops of the whipped cream, a sprinkle of sliced almonds, chocolate curls (if using), and top it all off with a quick drizzle of maple syrup.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8 (Makes about 4 1/2 cups of mousse)
Aube Giroux is a food writer and filmmaker who shares her love of cooking on her farm-to-table blog, Kitchen Vignettes.
Aube is a passionate organic gardener and home cook who likes to share the stories of how food gets to our dinner plates. Her work has been shown on television and at international film festivals. Her web series has been nominated for multiple James Beard Awards for Best Video Webcast (On Location). In 2012, she was the recipient of Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog award in the video category.