Chocolate mousse with star anise apricots

At last month’s Creative in Residence supper club I insisted to my co-host Charlotte that I put a vegan chocolate mousse on the menu. And I’m going to be honest, I had to fight for it.

Saying ‘vegan chocolate mousse’ and ‘oh and by the way it’s also made with tofu’ would make most people raise an eyebrow at the least.

And I completely understand that. Tofu is a very misunderstood and under-used ingredient which generally conjures up visions of something incredibly bland and boring. And sadly ‘vegan’ often comes with the same connotations - boring, bland, unenjoyable.

I really wanted to prove vegan and tofu can be delicious

I found this recipe for a vegan chocolate mousse over on the BBC Food website. This site is probably my single biggest source of inspiration for cooking - if you’ve ever got a few ingredients knocking around you don’t know what to do with then this website is your answer. Stick your ingredients in the search bar and it will give you suggestions of things to make. Genius.

Anyway… I loved the sound of the recipe and adding star anise was such an unusual idea that I really wanted to give a try. Another gorgeous flavour that often doesn’t get showcased on its own.

Vegan chocolate tofu mousse | The Flourishing Pantry

Then I hit a snag. The recipe called for two sweeteners - agave syrup and treacle.

If you’re an avid reader of this blog you might remember me discussing introducing sugar into my blog when I shared my pistachio and orange muffin recipe. Sugar is one of my biggest IBS triggers and so in the early days of blogging I was on a strict ‘no sugar’ diet and never featured ‘sugar’ in my recipes.

But here’s the thing… free sugar is what we want to avoid too much of in our diets. And free sugar is any added sugar that is put in food. And yes, that still includes honey, maple syrup, agave or rice malt syrup. 

I was already facing a resistance with this recipe. The last thing I wanted was for it to be a disappointment and not be the nice, sweet hit. Trying to swap out the sweeteners for a rice malt syrup or even maple syrup or honey just wasn’t going to cut it.

If it was going to be a sweet dessert to finish off the meal on a high, it had to be right.

Vegan chocolate mousse | The Flourishing Pantry

I also don’t think there’s any point trying to host a supper club and preach to people about cutting things out of their diet. If I wanted people to have a go at making this recipe I wanted the sweetener to be something that was readily available and wasn’t trying to say I thought it was ‘bad’ if we had a little sugar every now and then.

As it happened I didn’t have treacle in the cupboards the first time I tested this. But what I did have that was a similar consistency and sweetness was golden syrup. It totally works and the sweetness is just right. And I’m not going to feel bad about it.

This recipe isn’t about nutritional value. It’s about using an unfamiliar ingredient and enjoying a sweet treat at the end of a meal.

I haven’t tested the recipe with other sweeteners but I reckon it would work fine to swap for maple syrup, honey or of course the original suggestion of treacle. The mousse sets because of the chocolate and the tofu, not the sweetener so it shoudln’t affect the consistency too much.

With sweetener I always adjust to taste and each of these ingredients will bring another flavour profile to these little bowls of yumminess. My husband always says my dishes ‘could be sweeter’ which I usually take to mean they’re just right.

What I’m basically saying is experiment with it. Just like I did!

Vegan chocolate mousse | The Flourishing Pantry

Interestingly I shared these mousses with a couple of friends one weekend as guinea-pigs before serving them at Supper Club. They had already bought a meringue dessert so we ended up having them together. It made me realise that these mousses really aren’t that sugary at all, not compared to a meringue anyway!

And another win? Having insisted on a totally plant-based menu for Supper Club, Charlotte had a bit of a revelation and decided she wanted to commit to eating less meat.

It’s great when you really prove what ingredients can do and change perceptions.

I’d love to know what you think if you make this recipe. Let me know how it goes and whether it’s sweet enough for you.

If you like this recipe you might also want to try the summery fruity version, my tofu berry puddings.

Read more about Creative in Residence Supper Club over on this recipe for cauliflower curry, another dish I served up on the evening.

Vegan chocolate mousse | The Flourishing Pantry

SERVES: Makes 4
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
COOK TIME: Zero but allow an hour for chilling

INGREDIENTS

  • 300g/10½oz silken tofu, drained (you can pick it up at Buy Wholefoods Online*)

  • 150g/5½oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces (use vegan if you want to make this totally plant based)

  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

  • ½ tsp ground star anise (or more to taste)

  • 2 tbsp golden syrup or other liquid sweetener

  • 4 dried apricots

  • 1 tbsp groundnut or sunflower oil (something with very little flavour)

  • 20g/¾oz toasted flaked almonds, to serve (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

A note on the star anise: these are a little tricky to crush! A pestle and mortar is fine but give yourself some time and really try to get it to a fine powder. If not you will have little flecks of star anise in your mousse. Some people like it for a hit of flavour, but my 9yr old sister kept picking out of her mouth!

  1. Put the tofu, ground star anise, vanilla essence and golden syrup into a large bowl and blend with a hand blender until silky smooth.

  2. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof glass bowl sat over a saucepan of simmering water. When it’s completely melted, fold the chocolate into the tofu mixture. Mix really well (with your hand blender again if necessary) to make sure you don’t get little bubbles of tofu left. You want a beautiful smooth consistency.

  3. Spoon the mixture between 4 glasses and refrigerate until set.

  4. To make the apricots, heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the apricots and star anise and cook until the apricots start to caramelise. This shouldn’t take longer than 2-3 minutes, it’s all about infusing them with the star anise flavour. When cool, I chopped each one in half, or you could dice more finely.

  5. When you’re ready to eat, sprinkle the toasted almonds and apricots on top of the mousse and serve.

If you like this recipe you might also want to try the summery fruity version, my tofu berry puddings.

Want to save this recipe for later? Pin to Pinterest now so you don’t lose it.

PINTEREST | Vegan chocolate mousse | The Flourishing Pantry.png

*Disclosure: I am an ambassador for Buy Whole Foods Online and some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you’d like to know more about Buy Whole Foods Online, please visit the Buy Whole Foods Online website for more details. Any purchases made through this/these link(s) are at no extra cost to you but give The Flourishing Pantry a small commission. Thanks!