Sunday, March 14, 2010

Citrus Mousse Cakes with Blood Orange Compote

Wow, I can't believe it's March already...and half way through at that. Things have been a bit crazy getting back on track after the epic snow here on the east coast. Catching up at work, running random errands and just enjoying the sunshine has kept me out of the kitchen, but despite my wish for one more good snow the weather this past week has me in the mood for spring and bright, light flavors. {I also blame the emerging tulips for crushing my dreams of more snow for this year.}

These cakes started when I purchased a large bag of lemons to add to my drinking water in my failed attempt to drink less soda. However, every time I looked at them, they were staring back at me telling me to make them into I did. Then I found some beautiful blood oranges at our grocery store and since I had never experienced one, I picked up a few to incorporate into these cakes.

These mousse cakes hit just the spot. Bright and tart, smooth and creamy. After all the chocolate I consumed in February, I very much enjoyed the change of pace. The tartness was complimented by just a bit of sweetness in the graham cracker crust and that bit of crunch just made me smile.

Citrus Mousse Cakes with Blood Orange Compote (Adapted from Williams-Sonoma)
Makes 6 3-inch cakes

For the Citrus Mousse Cakes:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup cold water
2 1/4 teaspoon unflavored powder gelatin (1 package)
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup blood orange juice
1 Tablespoon blood orange zest
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and melted butter and mix until well blended. Place 3-inch ring molds on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Divide crumb mixture into molds and use a heavy glass or the back of a spoon to press crust together. Bake for 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl with water and ice. Set aside.

Place egg yolks in a heatproof bowl and lightly whisk. Set the bowl over a saucepan with simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Cook the egg yolks, stirring constantly, until a thermometer reads 140 degrees F. Maintain a temperature between 140 and 150 degrees F for 5 minutes, making sure to remove the bowl from heat if the temperature rises above 150 degrees F. After the 5 minutes, place bowl in ice bath and continue to stir the eggs until cool. Replenish the ice bath with ice.

Pour the cold water into a clean saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let gelatin sit for 5 to 10 minutes, allowing the gelatin to soften and swell. Stir in the remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar, salt, lemon juice, orange juice, orange zest and the cooled egg yolks; the mixture will be lumpy. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring continuously, until the gelatin dissolves and the mixture thickens, 6 to 8 minutes, making sure not to let the mixture boil. Set the saucepan in the refreshed ice bath and cool until the mixture is cold to the touch.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the whipping cream and confectioner's sugar with a whisk or electric mixer, until soft peaks form. Spoon the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture in 3 batches, folding the whipped cream in after each addition. Spoon the mixture into molds and smooth top with the back of a spoon.

Refrigerate cakes for 4 hours until mousse is firm. To remove from molds, run a warm sharp knife or metal spatula around edge of cakes and apply light pressure to lift the cakes through the top of the mold. Allow to sit for about 20 minutes before serving to take the chill off the mousse.

For the Blood Orange Compote:
1 cup blood orange juice
3/4 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 blood orange, peeled and segmented

In a heavy saucepan, combine the orange juice, sugar and cinnamon stick. Stirring occasionally, bring mixture to a boil to dissolve sugar. Lower heat and simmer 5-7 minutes, added the orange segments in the last 2 minutes. Allow compote to cool slightly and drizzle over cakes before serving.