Choosing a high quality honey from a small bee keeper rather than the honey bear from the grocery store makes all the difference in the world. I am not a food snob, so when standard grocery store ingredients are a fair substitute, I’ll say so. But here, because this mousse was developed to highlight the singular flavor of honey, every flaw in the honey will show.
I taught this honey mousse recipe a class last summer, and the two men who chose this recipe as thier project ended up making it 3 times. They admited later that they saw the sparse ingredient list and thought it would be the easiest recipe. They learned that the list of ingredients was intentionally simple to allow focus on the methods. On their 3rd try, they prepared themselves properly, paid attention to each ingredient and the temperatures at which they were worked with, and had everything prepared in advance before they started making anything. They were amply rewarded with a beautiful mousse, and learned a great lesson about sucessfully aproaching a recipe.
The recipe seems wordy, but it includes tips on treatment of the ingredients that will help you take the simple list and turn them into something much larger that the sum of thier parts.
So read through the recipe, be prepared by having every thing measured, and all your equipment gathered before you begin.
If you are using this recipe to fill a cake, then you will need to have the cake layers trimmed, brushed in their syrup, the bottom layer sitting in the cake pan you baked it in as a mold. Have these on the counter ready to go, so when the mousse is completed, it can be used to fill the cake imediately, before the gelatin begins to set.
Prepare a double boiler using a pot with a wide enough mouth to fit a large bowl.
4 egg yolks
4 oz. honey (just over 1/3 a cup)
half a vanilla bean, seeded, or 1 tsp extract in a pinch
2 tbsp water
1 tsp gelatin
2 cups cream
1. Prepare the cream to whip by placing it in the bowl you intend to whip it in, and placing that in the refrigerator along with the whisk you intend to use.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin in the bottom of the smallest pot you own. (I use my stainless steel 1/2 cup measuring cup, which holds up to the low heat the gelatin is later melted over) Cover the gelatin with the 2 tbsp of water, making sure every granual is covered and can absorb water, using a little more water if needed. Set aside.
2. Making the honey sabayon: Place the yolks, honey, and vanilla in a large stainless steel or glass bowl, and place it over the pot of simmering water you have prepared as your double boiler. With the water simmering, but not boiling rapidly, start cooking the honey mixture while calmly whisking constantly. Continue whisking the honey and eggs over heat until they start to thicken, and lighten in color. This can take as little as 3 minutes, and as long as 10, depending on how much heat is transfering to the bowl from the simmering water in the pot. It is best to cook this slower as you will have a more stable base for your mousse.
3 . When the honey sabayon is finished, a little mound will appear on the surface when a small amount is drizzled from the whisk back into the bowl. At this point, remove the bowl from the double boiler and set aside.
4. Place the tiny pot of bloomed gelatin over low heat, and cook until it melts, stirring as needed. Transfer the gelatin to the warm honey sabayon and whisk it until the gelatin is evenly distributed. Set aside and allow the sabayon to come down in temperature. In preparing the sabayon for the incorporation of the whipped cream, it needs to be cool enough that it doesn’t melt the cream when it is folded in, but not so cool that the gelatin sets.
5. While the sabayon is cooling, remove the bowl of cream and whisk from the refrigerator and begin whisking. Whisk the cream to soft, thick, billowy peaks, by hand if possible. If using a kitchenaid mixer, turn the mixer on to speed 6, but no higher. The slower incorporation of air into very cold cream creates a denser whipped product, which adds structure to the delicate mousse, and creates a more luxurious mouthfeel. The more structure we can add from the correct cooking of the sabayon, and whipping of the cream, the less gummy gelatin we need to add making a delicately ballanced mousse.
6. When the cream has been whipped and the sabayon is at room temperature, begin incorporating the two. Place 1/3 of the cream into the sabayon, and whisk to incorporate. Place another 1/3 of the cream into the sabayon, and fold in carefully with a large rubber spatula. Finally, add the remaining 1/3 of cream to the sabayon and again, fold in carefully.