It was 2009 and I was sitting in the lobby of my London hotel with a friend.
We were waiting for something – I no longer remember what – but while we waited, an array of premium Ben & Jerry’s ice creams stared at us, beckoning us from within phosphorescent glass.
Bored and tempted, we walked towards the humming vending machine. All the flavours were a blur to me – all except one: milk and cookies.
In went the coins and out shot a pot of one of the greatest, most classic flavour combinations around. I didn’t want that tub to end.
For years, my family kept cookies & cream ice cream in the freezer and it was always devoured quicker than any of the other flavours. We don’t buy ice cream much nowadays and I don’t often eat a lot of cookies & cream flavoured things now either – it just sort of disappeared after a while.
It may be this marked absence that explains why this particular flavour combination came to me so strongly when I decided to try out my very first mousse.
I couldn’t find a recipe that gave me what I wanted so I decided to marry two recipes together to create a silky, airy vanilla mousse speckled with chocolate cookies.
Use your favourite chocolate cookie recipe, or here’s how I made mine:
- 3/4 cup plain flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- A pinch of salt
*Sourced from foodnetwork.com. I halved the original recipe and this was enough to make about 12 small to medium sized cookies.
- Preheat oven to 160C.
- Cream butter and sugar together until light in colour and fluffy. Beat in egg and incorporate fully, then mix in vanilla extract. *If you’re increasing this recipe to make more cookies, beat in each egg individually.
- Sift in the flour, cocoa and salt and mix until just incorporated.
- You can refrigerate the dough for about an hour or you can do what I did and just bake it straight away – separate the dough into small balls and squish them gently onto an oven tray lined with baking paper.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Take out of oven and let cool on a rack.
For the mousse, I found a wonderful recipe for vanilla bean mousse on sugarlaws.com and made my own additions and modifications:
- The equivalent of 1 vanilla bean from my vanilla bean grinder
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 2 egg whites
- 120g creme fraiche
- In a mixing bowl, beat together the creme, vanilla bean and 1/4 cup sugar with electric beaters until the creme forms soft peaks.
*If this makes any sense, I usually whip cream until the ripples created from the beaters stay in place and look nice and thick, kind of like cake batter.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with electric beaters until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/4 cup of sugar, tablespoon by tablespoon, while continuing to beat the eggs until thick and glossy.
- Crumble 2 or 3 cookies into the cream mixture and fold in. Then fold the egg whites into the cream until everything is just incorporated.
- Pour or spoon into serving dishes (I used drinking glasses) and top mousse with crumbled cookies. I used about 2 cookies for each mousse but this will depend on how big you make your cookies and how much you want on top :)
- Place in fridge for about 6 hours, or overnight.
This makes 3-4 servings. It’s quite a sweet dessert for my taste but it just melts in your mouth and the cookies I made had a bitterness to them, which cut through the sweetness of the mousse really nicely.
The real positive aspect of making this was how much easier it was than I thought it would be. I’ve always hated beating egg whites and my attempts at making things with egg whites – meringue, souffle – haven’t really turned out that amazingly. In comparison, this was pleasantly successful without being stressful, complicated or time-consuming.