Espresso Mousse
Crema di Caffe

serves: 8 servings

Italians in general are passionate about coffee in almost any form and make particularly good use of it in all sorts of desserts. I wish I could remember where I picked up this recipe, but I can't. I think you'll like the flavor of the dish as much as I do.

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
½ cup water, cold
1 cup sugar
lemon juice, 3 drops
1 cup milk
1¾ cups heavy cream
3 eggs, seperated
½ cup espresso coffee
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
coffee beans, or shaved chocolate for garnish


Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup of the cold water and allow it to soften. In a medium-size heavy saucepan, combine the sugar with 1/4 cup of water and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar caramelizes to a rich dark brown, about 7 minutes. Be sure not to stir as it cooks.

Meanwhile, in a second pan, scald the milk. When the caramel is ready, remove it from the heat and immediately add 3/4 cup of the heavy cream. Whisk the cream and caramel together, blending thoroughly, then whisk in the scalded milk.

In a bowl, beat the egg yolks. Add some of the caramel mixture together and whisk well, then pour the contents of the bowl into the saucepan and whisk to blend. Return to moderately low heat and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the custard coats the back of a spoon, about 9 minutes.

Off the heat, blend in the softened gelatin and stir well until thoroughly dissolved. Add the coffee and vanilla extract and combine well. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it begins to thicken.

Meanwhile, whip the remaining 1 cup heavy cream until stiff and keep chilled. When the mousse mixture has thickened, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold them into the espresso custard, then fold in the whipped cream, lightly but thoroughly.

Pour into individual serving dishes or a large serving bowl and chill 3-4 hours. To serve, allow the mousse to rest about 10 minutes at room temperature to develop flavor, and decorate with coffee beans or shaved chocolate.