Chocolate

Pear Mousse With Rosemary Chocolate Sauce

December 13, 2021
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Photo by Julia Gartland Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog
Author Notes

When I think of dessert on cozy nights indoors, my mind goes to roasted pears, chocolate, toasted nuts, and the uplifting and clarifying scent of sturdy herbs like rosemary. This rich vegan dessert combines all those flavors. Served chilled, each mouthful marries earthy flavors with a cool and refreshing delivery.

The mousse contains cacao butter for added richness—it also helps create an aerated texture, which is challenging to achieve with vegan desserts. With a subtle white chocolate flavor, it pairs beautifully with the cashews, pears, and vanilla. All components can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days prior to serving.

Notes:
• The only real way to measure cacao butter is by weight, as it comes in many different forms, from chips to a block. If you can’t find cacao butter, you can double the agar flakes—the mousse won’t be as creamy or aerated, but the flavor will still be delicious. I recommend homemade almond milk for the plant-based milk, as its flavor is pure and it has body without any emulsifiers.

• If you don’t have coconut oil on hand, you can roast the pears in a mild extra-virgin olive oil.

• If you don’t have maple sugar (sometimes called maple powder or maple crystals), use coconut sugar pulsed in a spice grinder first—this helps it dissolve and coat the hazelnuts.

• You can assemble the portions of this dessert a couple of hours ahead of time and store in the fridge. Top with the hazelnuts just before serving. —Amy Chaplin

  • Prep time 4 hours 15 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • Pear Mousse
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • Boiling water
  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 3 large) ripe Anjou or Bosc pears (or a mix), peeled, quartered, and cored
  • 2 teaspoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond or another plant-based milk, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 cup pear nectar
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod reserved (or about 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
  • 1 tablespoon agar flakes
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 ounce cacao butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Rosemary sprigs, for serving
  • Rosemary Chocolate Sauce (makes about ⅓ cup)
  • 1/4 cup rosemary leaves
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 cup cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Salted Maple Hazelnut Brittle (makes about ¾ cup)
  • 1/2 cup whole raw hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons maple sugar
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. For the Pear Mousse: Heat the oven to 400°F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the cashews in a small bowl and cover with boiling water; let soak for 45 minutes, then drain well.

    Cut each pear quarter into 4 slices lengthwise and place on the prepared sheet pan. Drizzle with the coconut oil and maple syrup, toss, then bake for 20 minutes. Carefully toss the mixture, then bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or until tender and golden. Remove from the oven and let cool while you prepare the rest of the mousse mixture.

    Meanwhile, in a small saucepan whisk together the almond milk, pear nectar, vanilla bean seeds and pod, agar flakes, and sea salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the agar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and remove the vanilla bean pod. Add the cacao butter, cover the pot for 5 minutes, then whisk to make sure all the cacao butter has melted.

    Add the almond milk mixture to a high-power blender along with the drained cashews, roasted pears, and vanilla extract. Blend on the highest speed for at least 2 minutes, until completely smooth, scraping the sides as necessary.

    Pour the mixture into a shallow medium bowl and place in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours, or until completely set and chilled. While it sets, prepare the chocolate sauce and hazelnuts.
  2. For the Rosemary Chocolate Sauce: Roughly chop the rosemary leaves and place in a heatproof jar or teapot. Cover with ⅓ cup of boiling water and let steep for 15 minutes.

    Add the olive oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk in the cacao powder until smooth.

    Strain the rosemary tea into a liquid measuring cup or small bowl (discard the leaves). Stir half of the liquid (about 2½ tablespoons) into the cacao mixture until smooth, adding more to reach the consistency of half-and-half or heavy cream—you may not need it all. The mixture will thicken as it chills. Pour into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to a week. When ready to serve, thin out the sauce with water so it can be drizzled over the mousse—a little goes a long way.
  3. For the Salted Maple Hazelnut Brittle: Heat the oven to 300°F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

    In a small bowl, mix together the hazelnuts, maple sugar, maple syrup, salt, and vanilla.

    Spread the hazelnut mixture on the prepared sheet pan. Bake for 10 minutes or until the hazelnuts are lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely. If not serving immediately, store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
  4. For serving: Scoop about ¼ cup of pear mousse into a small glass or bowl, drizzle with a little chocolate sauce, top with another ¼ cup mousse, then another drizzle of chocolate sauce. Sprinkle with the toasted hazelnuts and finish with a sprig of rosemary. Serve cold.

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Amy Chaplin is a two-time James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and vegetarian chef. Amy's approach to cooking is inspired by nature and the healing benefits of whole food ingredients. Her recipes have been featured in T Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Vogue, among other publications. She divides her time between Brooklyn and Upstate New York.

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