Jun 8, 2013

Baked asparagus mousse

What a nice surprise. I didn't know what to except...till the first bite. No, not a bite. You don't bite mousse.
The Italian site called it a flan. But I wouldn't. I don't want call it a soufflé, because I don't remember what soufflés are like. The last time I made one was probably 15 years ago. As far as I know, this is the closest thing to a mousse. Not from a fridge but from an oven.

Whatever you call it, it's a beautiful recipe. A lot of asparagus, a couple of onions, egg whites and whipping cream. I wrapped the mousse with prosciutto and added some olives. Nice, they looked a bit happier and safer than in the original recipe.

I was patient enough to wait for them to cool and firm up and then they came out of the forms perfectly. We ate them with basmanti rice. And it felt like we were dining in a five star restaurant. Refined but simple. Neither sweet or salty, with a delicate flavor of asparagus. Smooth all the way, in taste and texture. 

Recipe adapted from Giallo Zafferano

time: 20 min preparation + 55 min baking + 30 min cooling


  • 1 kg (2 lbs) green asparagus
  • 3 scallions (the white part), chopped
  • 4 egg whites
  • 200 ml (5/6 cup) whipping cream
  • 40 g (1.5 oz) grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 thin slices prosciutto cotto (about 100g/3.5 oz)
  • 5 black pitted olives, sliced in thin donuts
  • butter for the forms

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Butter 5 ramekin dishes.
  2. Prepare asparagus. Cut the hard ends off. Chop the rest of stems, leaving the flowers (heads) un-cut. Set heads aside.
  3. On a large skillet, heat oil. Add chopped scallions. Heat them through for 2-3 minutes on medium/high heat. Add asparagus flowers and sauté them for about 3 minutes. Remove from the skillet and put them aside. Transfer the rest of asparagus onto the skillet, add salt and cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat, stirring often till cooked through. Add 1/2 cup water during cooking if asparagus is getting too dry. Add pepper. Remove from heat. 
  4. In a medium bowl, using a bubble whip, beat egg whites only half-way, till liquidy but changed in color (with big bubbles visible), for about 1 minute. 
  5. Place cooked asparagus in a food processor with a steal blade and blend it till smooth. Transfer it to a medium bowl. Add whipping cream, grated cheese and half-beaten egg whites. Mix it all up till combined.
  6. Line sides of ramekins with prosciutto and place olive pieces on the bottom. Pour in asparagus mix almost to the top.
  7. In a large baking dish (rectangle, preferably), place all the ramekins. Pour in water into the baking dish up to half way ramekins' height. Place the baking dish with everything in it into a hot oven for 55 minutes, till lightly browned on top. The recipe said 45 minutes. I rotated my mousses toward the end of baking, when I saw uneven browning. The mousse will puff about 1 inch (2.5 cm)  above the top edge of the form. Remove from the oven and let them cool (in water) for a good 1/2 hour. Slide a knife against the sides of the forms and flip the mousse onto a plate. Decorate it with asparagus heads (you cooked earlier)  and serve.

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