One of my favorite restaurants in Memphis is Casa Grill. It’s the best Mediterranean food I’ve ever had and have yet to order something that I haven’t liked. Half the time I let the owner, Aimer, order for me. Places like that make me never want to make gyros or hummus myself, how could it possibly compare? So instead I make variations.
The mousse they serve there is insanely good. I didn’t even like chocolate mousse until I had theirs. When it comes to chocolate, I’ve always needed nuts, or something to break up the solid chocolate flavor. Do not even think of giving me a slice of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting unless there is vanilla ice cream to “make the medicine go down” so-to-say. Plain chocolate ice cream is out of the question. And a solid chocolate bar? There better be peanut butter hidden in the middle or nuts in it before appealing to me. (This is where you say I am a strange female.) But the Casa Grill chocolate mousse? Sharing doesn’t work well with me.
Instead of trying to recreate that wonderful little bowl of goodness, I decided to mix it up with another popular dessert – baklava. You make the mousse separately, spoon it into little phyllo cups, and top it off with baklava-styled nuts and a dollop of honey. The results are obnoxiously scrumptious.
I worried that they would become soggy the longer they sat, with the flaky cups absorbing the moisture from the mousse, but I was pleasantly surprised that after two days in the fridge they maintained their crispiness! I originally had this as a “serve immediately” recipe, but I take it back. Although I doubt you will have to worry about storing them past the second day because they should magically disappear before that problem arises.
BAKLAVA MOUSSE CUPS
Makes 30 mini cups
CHOCOLATE CARAMEL MOUSSE
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 1-1/2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
2-1/2 Tbsp salted butter, room temperature (or unsalted plus 1/4 tsp salt)
7 oz semisweet chocolate chips
3 eggs, separated
NUT TOPPING & CUPS
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
2 pkgs frozen pre-baked mini phyllo cups
- Make the mousse: Combine the sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan. Do not stir. Cook over medium-high heat to a dark caramel, swirling as it begins to brown to distribute the sugar. While the sugar and water are going at it, heat up the cream in a saucepan or microwave just until warm.
- Take off the heat and deglaze and add your room temperature butter. Add your warmed cream and whisk vigorously. Add the chocolate, wait for a minute or two for it to melt and mix until smooth then wait a few more minutes to cool. Add a little bit of warm chocolate to the egg yolks and stir it around a bit to bring the eggs to a warmer temperature and then added them to the chocolate mixture. Mix in the egg yolks.
- Whisk the egg whites until they form firm peaks and then fold into the chocolate mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 6 hours.
- Make the topping: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, stir walnuts, sugar, butter, cinnamon and salt with fork until mixture is well mixed and crumbly.
- Sprinkle nut mixture evenly over parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 1o to 15 minutes or until caramelized. Allow to cool before crumbling any nuts which may have stuck together.
- Assemble: Spoon 1 tablespoon chilled mousse into each phyllo cup. Top with nuts and a dollop of honey. Serve immediately or store in fridge for up to 2 days.