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Monday, May 11, 2015

Recipe: Bourbon Mascarpone Mousse with Pecan Praline Crumble

Recipe: Bourbon Mascarpone Mousse with Pecan Praline Crumble

You say "Sabayon", I say "Zabaglione"... you say "Crawfish", I say "Crayfish"

There was a little downtime in culinary school this week. But rather than stand around waiting for water to boil, I thought it would be a good time to test a few recipes. One idea that I have wanted to try for a long time is a Sabayon Mousse made with Bourbon. Yes... I admit that is an odd item to have on the long-term "To-Do" list, sitting somewhere between "Rent a Storage Unit" and "Remodel the Bathroom". But goals are goals, and now I can check another one off the list!

A Sabayon (or in Italian, "Zabaglione") is a whipped dessert made with just Sugar, Egg Yolks and Alcohol. A traditional recipe would include one part Sugar, one part Egg Yolk and one part sweet wine (usually Marsala) by weight. The ingredients are simply combined in a Bain-Marie and whipped to produce a warm, airy foam that can be served as a stand-alone custard or, more satisfyingly, with fresh fruit or other accompaniments.

Bourbon Mascarpone Mousse with Pecan Praline Crumble

A Sabayon is very versatile. You can adjust with the ratios of Sugar, Egg Yolk and Alcohol depending on the desired thickness and sweetness of the final product. For instance, when using Marsala, you may wish to reduce the amount of Sugar because the Marsala wine already has a very high residual sugar content.

To make a Mousse from a Sabayon, simply fold it into various dairy products (and as a side note, yes, I do recognize that this is not a traditional "Mousse" -- but stay with me!). For a lighter product, fold the cooled Sabayon with Whipped Cream. For a denser product, try Mascarpone.

In this recipe, which is based on a classic Marsala-based version with Poached Plums and Candied Almonds from Osteria Morini in NYCI'm using Mascarpone with a little bit of Gelatin. The Mascarpone makes for an extremely rich dessert while the Gelatin helps the Mousse set a firmer and also better stabilizes the product for several days of refrigerated storage.

Zabaglione Mousse with Poached Plums and Candied Almonds at Osteria Morini

As a bonus, my frequent culinary school colleague, New Orleans's very own Ronald Green (@starchef28), whipped up a batch of Pecan Pralines with his free time (there must not have been any crawfish around). The combination of Bourbon and Pecan Pralines was just too obvious. So, for your enjoyment, here are both recipes!

Mark and Ronald

Bourbon Mascarpone Mousse with Pecan Praline Crumble:

Bourbon Mascarpone Mousse

Yield 10 x 100g servings

  • Gelatin Sheet: 1x

  • Mascarpone*: 450g (2 Cups)
  • Vanilla Extract: 4g (1 Tsp) 

  • Egg Yolks: 150g (7x)
  • White Granulated Sugar: 100g (1/2 Cup)
  • Salt: 6g (1 Tsp)
  • Bourbon*: 300g (1.5 Cups)

  • Pecan Pralines: 1/2 Recipe (recipe follows)

*Note on Ingredients:
  • Mascarpone: For a lighter option, try Whipped Cream or even Greek Yogurt. Given their lighter consistencies, you do not need to melt these products as you do the Mascarpone. 
  • Bourbon: It is possible to use a variety of strong flavored wines or spirits to make a Sabayon. Traditionally, sweet wines like Marsala are used. To keep things balanced, you should adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe depending on the sweetness of the alcohol you choose.


1. Bloom the Gelatin Sheet by submerging it in ice cold water and set it aside.

Chef's Note: "Blooming" Gelatin ensures that it is fully hydrated so that it melts properly when mixed with other ingredients.

2. Place the Mascarpone and Vanilla Extract in a large bowl over a double boiler and gently heat while stirring until the mixture is just melted. 

Chef's Note: Do not overheat the Mascarpone. You just want the Mascarpone to be smooth and liquid enough to easily fold with the Sabayon. If overheated, the Mascarpone (particularly poorer quality products) can separate resulting in a grainy-textured Mousse. 

3. As the Mascarpone is melting, put the Yolks, Sugar and Salt in an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip the mixture on high speed until the Yolks thicken and turn very light in color.

4. Once the Mascarpone is sufficiently soft, set it aside. Once the Yolk mixture has thickened and is very light in color, reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly stream in the Bourbon.

5. Transfer the mixer bowl with the Yolk and Bourbon mixture to the double boiler and whisk constantly for approximately 10 minutes. The mixture will thicken as the Sugar dissolves, some of the Bourbon evaporates and the Yolks gently cook. The Sabayon is done when a trail is left when you pull the whisk from the bowl. Remove the Sabayon from the double boiler.

Chef's Note: Be careful when working with a double boiler. While the setup is intended to protect your product from direct heat, it is still possible for flames to shoot out around the sides of the double boiler exposing your ingredients to too much direct heat.

6. Remove the Gelatin from the ice water and squeeze out any residual water. Add the Gelatin to the warm Sabayon and whisk until it is fully dissolved.

7. Fold the warm Sabayon into the melted Mascarpone mixture in three additions. Add each subsequent addition while the mixture is still streaky from the prior. Once all of the Sabayon has been added to the melted Mascarpone, continue folding the mixture until it is completely homogeneous. 

Chef's Note: If the Mascarpone has cooled too much and is too thick, briefly return it to the double boiler, but do not overheat it.

8. Portion the Sabayon Mascarpone Mousse into 10 bowls or glasses. Chill the dessert in the refrigerator until it has fully set -- approximately two hours. Once set and cool, store the bowls in the refrigerator wrapped with plastic to prevent the Mousse from drying out. Before serving, cover the Mousse with crumbled Pecan Pralines (recipe follows).

Bourbon Mascarpone Mousse with Pecan Praline Crumble

Pecan Pralines

Yield Approximately 50 pieces

  • White Granulated Sugar: 200g (1 Cup)
  • Brown Sugar: 200g (1 Cup)
  • Heavy Cream: 240mL (1 Cup)
  • Butter: 45g (3 Tbls)
  • Salt: 4g (1 Tsp)

  • Vanilla Extract: 4g (1 Tsp)
  • Pecans, Toasted: 170g (1.5 Cups)


1. Prepare a sheet tray for the final Pecan Pralines by lining it with parchment paper. 

2. On a separate sheet tray, toast the Pecans in a single layer at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 7 - 10 minutes. The nuts should just begin to release oils and become fragrant.  

Chef's Note: It is not 100% critical for the nuts to be toasted; however, the flavor will be much richer if you do!

3. Mix all of the ingredients except for the Vanilla Extract and the Pecans in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook the mixture until it reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. 

4. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the Vanilla Extract and the Pecans. Stir vigorously for two minutes. 

Chef's Note: Stirring the Praline mixture for two minutes crystallizes the sugars. This step is critical for creating that signature, milky texture. 

5. Drop spoon-sized portions of the Praline mixture onto the parchment-lined sheet tray. Let the Pecan Pralines set and cool. 

Toasting Pecans

Heating the Pralines

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