Maple syrup infused with star anise creates a flavor that is clearly more than the sum of its parts. This mousse has a light, creamy, buttery, licorice like flavor that barely registers maple as its principal sweetener. Serve it in glasses with some crushed pecans or walnuts as a terrific dessert, or use it as a filling for a torte or carrot cake.
- 6 egg yolks
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 4 whole star anise
- 2 cups heavy cream
- Stand mixer
- Medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan with at least 4-inch sides
- Digital candy thermometer (optional)
Begin the mousse:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the egg yolks and salt on medium speed. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over ¼ cup of cold water and let this mixture sit while you reduce the maple syrup.
Reduce the maple syrup:
Combine the maple syrup and star anise in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and boil until the syrup registers 240°F on a candy thermometer. If you do not have a thermometer, test the syrup after it has boiled, foamed, and reduced somewhat. Drop a fork tong of syrup on the counter-if it dries in a mound, scrapes off the counter cleanly with your fingernail, and is somewhat pliable and gummy between two fingers, it is ready.
Add the maple syrup to the egg yolks:
Remove the star anise with a fork and discard. With the mixer on medium-high speed, slowly pour the hot maple syrup down the side of the bowl into the yolks. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the gelatin into the empty pan in which you cooked the maple syrup, and let it melt into a syrupy liquid. Pour the gelatin into the egg yolk mixture and whisk at medium-high speed until it triples in volume and cools to room temperature.
Finish the mousse:
Remove the bowl with the mousse base from the mixer. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until it has soft peaks. Scrape the whipped cream on top of the mousse base. Fold the two together with a spatula or bowl scraper: place your spatula in the center of the bowl, scrape the bottom, and bring the bottom over the top. Rotate the bowl 45 degrees and continue folding until all the whipped cream is incorporated.
If you want to serve the mousse in a casual manner, let it chill and gel in a large bowl or plastic container for at least 2 hours before dolloping it out onto individual plates. Alternatively, for a more finished look, pour the mousse into 6 to 8 small serving dishes and let it set in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 2 hours before serving.
Serve this mousse with a crunchy cookie or some chopped hazelnuts, pecans, or walnuts.