Spruce chocolate mousse flavored with spruce tip syrup is one of the first spruce tip recipes I made for my first restaurant the spring after it opened. It takes some time to make, but, so far, it's the only dessert where I've been able to combine chocolate and spruce in a way that works.
I'd been making spruce syrup for the bartenders and we had gallons of the stuff. With maple syrup being expensive, and spruce tip syrup being cheap, coaxing my pastry chef into using spruce syrup was pretty easy.
Start with a good, strong syrup
Just using spruce tips simmered a bit with water isn't going to cut it, for the flavor of spruce to overcome the chocolate you'll either want to make a slow sun syrup using equal parts by volume of brown, natural sugar with spruce tips or another conifer product, like needles or pine cones. If you use a syrup that's weak on spruce flavor, it will still taste good, but the chocolate flavor is strong. This took a while to get down right and I kept making mousses that were way to sweet. Using a potent, strong spruce syrup is key.
Traditional spruce tip syrup
To make the slow sun syrup, leave the sugar and spruce tips out on the counter for a few weeks until the sugars melt, then heat the mixture with a small amount of water, just to help melt the sugar, and simmer for 15 minutes, then strain and store. You'll want to take a look at my classic spruce tip syrup for that as there's detailed instructions.
Quick spruce syrup
For a quick syrup, that is a substitute for above method (the flavor is weaker, but passable) see my caramelized spruce tip syrup recipe here. You can also substitute maple syrup, cooked down by 25% and cooled.
This is a rich dessert, and you'll see in the image I serve a single scoop. You won't be serving a martini glass full of this. A 1-2 ounce scoop is fine. Serve it with a dollop of whipped cream and it's perfect as it is.
Spruce Chocolate Mousse
- 3 medium mixing bowls
- 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped
- 1 ounce unsalted butter
- 3 large eggs separated
- 8 ounces heavy cream
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons caramelized spruce syrup
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Whisk the egg yolks and ¼ cup of the spruce syrup over a double boiler until doubled in volume, then reserve. Combine the whites with the 2 tablespoons of syrup and whisk in a double boiler until soft peaks form, then remove from the heat and whisk to full volume by hand.
- In a separate bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks and reserve.
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler, then mix with the egg yolk mixture.
- Fold ¼ of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk-chocolate mixture until combined, then mix in the rest.
- Finally, gently fold in the cream until just incorporated.
- Put the mixture into a piping bag with a fluted tip, then pipe into dishes and chill until ready to serve. It can also be scooped with a disher or scoon dipped in hot water.