Most people’s bucket lists comprise the exotic destinations they want to visit before they die. Mine, on the other hand, lists all the recipes I want to cook while I’ve still got the chance.
I mention this only because caramelised white chocolate has been on the top of that list for a long time. The concept is simple enough: place white chocolate on a baking sheet, bake it at a low temperature, remove it from the oven, and stir at frequent intervals until it’s gone the colour of toasted almonds or deep, burnished toffee. After caramelising, the chocolate is blended with cream; the result is like dulce de leche or salted butter caramel, plus a whisper of cocoa. Needless to say, it’s pretty phenomenal—and, as I’ve discovered, well worth the effort of preparing from scratch.
Once it’s made, you can store a jar of your caramelised white chocolate and use it however you’d like (I’d recommend pouring it over ice cream, spreading it on toast, or using it to top Belgian-style waffles). You can also sub it in for regular chocolate in a range of recipes—including this mousse, which I like to serve alongside Partizan’s Imperial White Russian Stout.
I think there are two different kinds of (successful) food and beer pairings: those which pair perfectly complementary flavours, and those which feature contrasting flavours which, when combined, can delight and surprise.
For me, this pairing falls in the latter category. Normally, pairing a sweet and creamy dessert with a less sweet beer can be problematic. But in this case, the mousse draws out the beer’s coffee notes and heightens its bitterness. In this way, an intense, 9% ABV imperial stout becomes an unexpectedly refreshing foil, contrasting the richness and sugar with each moreish sip. The effect is something like an affogato: the first shock of bitterness and sweetness together, the beauty of the way they meld together into a finishing harmony.
Caramelised White Chocolate Mousse
For the caramelised white chocolate:
200g high-quality white chocolate (containing at least 30% cocoa solids)
150ml double cream
1 pinch Maldon sea salt
Preheat your oven to 120 degrees C. If you’re using fèves or other small pieces of white chocolate, pour them in a single layer onto a clean baking sheet or Pyrex tray. If you’re using a bar of chocolate, chop it roughly into small pieces using a serrated knife, and pour onto your prepared tray.
Place in the pre-heated oven and cook for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove from the oven and stir the chocolate with a dry spatula; the chocolate will be beginning to melt and clump. Spread it in as even a layer as possible, and cook again for 10 minutes, before removing from the oven and stirring with a clean spatula again.
Repeat these steps until the chocolate has baked for between 50-60 minutes total. By the end, it should smell nutty and caramelised, and its colour should be a deep toffee brown. Depending on the brand of chocolate you use, it may melt fully or may resemble drier crumbles; both work just fine, so don’t worry if the appearance is a little surprising.
Once the chocolate has finished baking, add it to a food processor, along with 150ml of double cream (ideally warmed to room temperature) and a generous pinch of Maldon sea salt. Blend for at least 3-4 minutes, pausing to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula, or until the mixture is thick and entirely smooth with no clumps. When finished, it should look like dulce de leche and taste absolutely divine.
For the mousse:
Caramelised white chocolate
2 large egg yolks
2 tbs caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
450ml double cream, divided (70ml, 230ml and 150ml)
Place the prepared caramelised white chocolate in a large bowl and set aside.
In a small bowl, add the egg yolks and the caster sugar, and whisk until the mixture is smooth and light yellow.
In a small saucepan, heat the vanilla and 70ml of double cream over medium-low heat until the mixture is simmering. Remove from the heat. Pour over the egg yolk and sugar mixture in a very slow but steady stream, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs.
When the egg mixture is fully incorporated, pour back into the saucepan and stir, over low heat, until it’s thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat. Place a fine-meshed sieve over the bowl of caramelised white chocolate, and pour the warm egg mixture over it. Stir until the mix is completely blended.
In a large bowl, add 230ml of double cream. Using an electric mixer, whisk until it has formed not-quite- stiff peaks. Fold half the whipped cream gently into the chocolate mixture until smooth; fold the remaining cream in until smooth.
Divide the mixture among four ramekins. Cover and chill for at least two hours, or until completely set.
When ready to serve, whisk the remaining 150ml of double cream with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Top each ramekin with a dollop of whipped cream for good measure.
Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. Pick up Partizan's Imperial White Russian Stout while stocks last in store or at our online shop.