I never really understood the desserts that were served in our house when I was growing up. My dad loved to experiment – tinned pineapple and sour cream was memorable – I remember it curdling, I remember crying. And if legend is correct, my brothers and sisters tell me that my mum was a dab hand at the old sago/tapioca pudding; one sibling likening it to the offspring of an amphibian life form, but let’s not go there because we all know kids say ghastly things about childhood food horrors. I’m sure it was lovely. I was too young to be subjected to these delights.
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I didn’t make it out unscathed though. Unlike Mary-Ann, my little buddy across the road who always had chocolate ice-cream and waffles after dinner (which was usually something cool like hot dogs), my mum made junket. What ever happened to junket? My mum LOVED to give us junket, I mean even the name sounds a little bit wrong, and from what I can remember it was a raspberry flavoured tablet that you dissolved in milk and left to set in the fridge until ‘firm’. So wrong. It was a sweet, soured-milk consistency with an acrid berry flavour, similar to cough medicine. Just what kids want to eat. It’s giving me shivers just thinking about it and I am thankful it seemed to have disappeared as soon as 1980 clocked over.
There must have come a time when I put my foot down and declared war against dessert at home, especially against junket. I’m sure mum said “OK, you make something then!” So I did. It was a chocolate mousse and it was beautiful… smooth, chocolaty and rivaling any sweetness that was wafting out of my buddy’s house across the road. I never saw junket again. I must have started a revolution because I have never seen it since.
Thirty years later, here is my more grown up version. The basic recipe of eggs, cream and chocolate should remain the same but go right ahead and add any flavours you like. Dark chocolate and orange would be nice! This is my take on Middle Eastern flavours.
Rose scented white chocolate mousse with candied walnuts
Preparation 20 minutes
Fridge time – 4 hours
200gms white chocolate
3 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon rosewater
1/3 cup castor sugar
Melt sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat until caramel coloured, stir in walnuts and quickly turn out onto baking paper, forming into clumps. Careful, it’s really hot! Set aside until cool.
Melt chocolate in a large bowl over a small pan of water. Set aside for five minutes until just starting to cool.
Whip cream until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Add rosewater to chocolate and fold cream through until combined, then gently fold through egg whites. Once all ingredients are combined pour into a glass, or small bowl and refrigerate for at least four hours, or overnight.
Place candied walnuts on top of glass, or set next to mousse on a plate and enjoy!
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