Caramel Mousse with Walnut Shortbread

I scribbled this recipe down in my trusty notebook while sitting at the hairdressers the other day (hair is getting shorter and shorter, can’t help myself…must stop now!) and made it today to take to the lovely Netty and Andy’s for dessert. The thing is, I tried to be too tricky the first time I tested it – attempting to make my own caramel out of condensed milk and making some lovely toffee/fudge instead….so the trick is to be a bit cheaty and use the ready made sweetened condensed milk caramel, and then you can be a little more hands-on with the Caramel Sauce and Walnut Praline. The Walnut Shortbread is the unsung hero of the dessert – not particularly glamorous, but the perfect little bit of something sensible to offset the ridiculous frippery of the mousse. (Sorry had to use ‘frippery’ – Keri Trim if you are reading this I know you will understand. It is basically luxurious, a little bit fancy and ostentatious…just like the mousse.) Right then – on with the recipe!
Walnut Shortbread
200g butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup cornflour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 160หšC (325หšF) and line two trays with baking paper. Beat the butter and sugars together until pale and fluffy. Gently beat in the flours and salt and stir through the walnuts to combine. Squish into a big lump in the bowl then turn out onto the bench. Roll out into a long sausage, about 30cm long. Roll up in plastic wrap and twist the ends to secure. If you then grip the plastic ends and roll the log away from you on the bench a few times, it should tighten up into a nice neat shape. Chill in the fridge for half an hour, then slice into 1/2 – 1 cm discs. Lay out on baking sheets and cook for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on racks and store in an airtight container. Makes about 30. These are great with the mousse, but equally good with a cup of tea.
Caramel Mousse
1x 395g tin caramel sweetened condensed milk, beaten until smooth (or dulce de leche)
1 tbsp maple syrup
500ml cream, whisked to firm peaks
2 egg whites, whisked to firm peaks
pinch of sea salt
Fold all of the ingredients together and plop into 10 small glasses or ramekins. Chill for at least six hours or over night. I topped mine with a spoonful of Caramel Sauce before chilling, then sprinkled with a little Walnut Praline to serve – you can of course serve it ‘as is’ and it will still be super-yummy!๐Ÿ™‚
Caramel Sauce:
1 cup caster sugar
4 tbsp water
300ml cream
(makes about 1 3/4 cups)
Heat caster sugar and water together
in a pan over a medium heat until the mixture has crystallized, then
turned a light golden color. Remove from the heat and microwave cream
for about 1 minute or so until almost boiling – it must be very
hot – not tepid. In amounts of about 1/4 cup at a time whisk hot cream
into hot caramel sugar – it will froth up madly in a freaky way, but
just whisk hard and keep adding in small amounts until it is all
incorporated…worth the effort! Once cooled pour into a bottle and store in the fridge.

Walnut Praline:
1 cup walnuts
100g sugar 
2 tablespoons water
Preheat oven to 180หšC
(350หšF) and put walnuts on a baking tray. Put a square of baking paper
on a dinner plate ready for praline. Bake walnuts for 5 minutes until
just fragrant and lightly colored. Once the walnuts are in the oven,
heat the sugar and water together in a medium size, heavy based
saucepan. Cook over medium heat without stirring, until the sugar has
dissolved and caramelised, turning a rich golden colour. The amount of
time varies but can be more than 5 minutes. Keep an eagle eye on the
caramel so that you don’t miss the magical point between golden and
rich, and black and bitter. As soon as you have a golden amber liquid
tip in the walnuts and coat in caramel. Quickly pour onto the baking
paper and leave to set. Caution: do not put your fingers any where near
the caramel, it is viciously hot! Once praline is cold you can smash it
into chunks with the end of a rolling pin – up to you whether you like
your praline chunky or fine!

10 comments

    1. Hi Janet – I think this looks like the same kind of product – http://www.eaglebrand.ca/tips-faqs.aspx I am not sure whether the Dulce de Leche one would be an exact match, or whether you would need to cook the regular sweetened condensed milk to turn it into caramel. Perhaps if you try it you could let me know – I would really appreciate it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. you can find the tin caramel in the Hispanic section of many supermarkets…it's delicious

  2. so is it dulche de leche? Thanks for your help so far, I have a Mexican grocery nearby so I can check there or must make it myself if it's the same thing. LOVE caramel anything and may sprinkle a little sea salt in the walnuts for that salty caramel flavor…now I really want to try this lol!

  3. Hi Janet – I think the dulce de leche would be perfect – have a little taste of the mousse before you put it into the glasses, and if it needs any more caramel 'grunt' you can stir through a tablespoon of the caramel sauce. Can't wait for you to try it now! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I'm bringing lunch to dear friends today, and I made this for dessertโ€ฆoh.my.heavens. I admit I licked the bowl and my eyes rolled in the back of my head in ecstasy. SO good, and so very easy! I didn't make the cookies for today, but the mousse and praline topping will be a huge hit! Thanks!!

    1. Kelly you have made my day – yippee!!! So glad you like it and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! Sarah

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