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What can be more perfect than ending a meal with a slice of mocha mousse pie with toasted milk meringue? Very few things can beat the combination of chocolate, coffee, and toasted milk, they are a match made in heaven!
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What makes this dish special
Ever since I made my first pie recipe, I made it my mission to create a pie every year. I just love making pie. Sure it's a lot of work, but it's always, always worth it. This year, I wanted to make chocolate and coffee the main flavors of the dessert. What goes perfectly with chocolate and coffee? Milk! A little of this, a little of that, and here we have a mocha mousse pie with toasted milk meringue. It's what I call, the absolute perfect afternoon treat.
- Gelatin powder: A protein derived from animal collagen. It's commonly used to set liquids into a gel-like consistency. You can also use gelatin sheets instead of the powder.
- Cocoa powder: Cocoa powder is made from roasted and ground cacao beans. It adds chocolate flavor to recipes.
- Instant espresso powder: Instant espresso powder is dehydrated espresso. It intensifies the flavor of chocolate in recipes while also adding subtle hints of coffee. You can also use instant coffee granules or very strong espresso.
- Heavy cream: Heavy cream, also known as whipping cream, is a high-fat dairy product used to lighten the texture of the mocha mousse filling while also adding richness to the filling.
- Dry milk powder: Dry milk powder is the result of evaporating the liquid from milk. It is used as a convenient milk substitute.
- Cream of tartar: Cream of tartar is an acidic powder, used to stabilize the egg whites in the meringue.
How to make mocha mousse pie
Step 1: Bake the crust
When I was creating the recipe for this mocha mousse pie, I thought long and hard about how to make the crust. Did I want to go full out and make a chocolate crust? Should I stick to a graham cracker crust? Do nuts go well with the dessert? In the end, I decided to go with the classic pie dough. The buttery crust seemed like the best pairing while not overshadowing the filling or meringue.
My pie dough recipe is a pretty basic one but one that never fails me. With ½ cup of butter, the crust always ends up perfectly flaky.
Since we're not baking the pie with the filling, we're going to fully bake the crust. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork and bake the crust with pie weights for 10 minutes. Then, remove the weights, brush on the egg wash, and continue to bake for another 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
You can also make the pie crust the day before.
Step 2: Prepare the filling
While the crust is cooling, make the mocha filling. The filling requires two steps. First, simmer the egg yolks with the milk and remaining ingredients, then fold in the whipped cream.
For the first step, sprinkle gelatin powder with ½ cup cold milk and let it sit for 5 minutes. Heat the remaining milk with the cocoa powder, instant espresso, and salt, whisking until fully combined. Once the milk starts to steam, add the gelatin mix, whisking until combined.
Slowly, and I mean very slowly, add the warm milk to the egg yolk, sugar, and vanilla mixture, stirring constantly. You want to slowly bring up the temperature of the yolks without cooking them and making scrambled eggs. Once all of the milk is added, heat everything back up until it starts to slightly thicken.
Let the filling cool for about 1 hour or until no longer warm. Ideally, you don't want to wait until the filling sets and becomes firm. If it's fully firm, it'll be harder to fold in the whipped cream. It won't be impossible but it'll be more difficult.
If you happen to let the filling firm up, just loosen it up first by beating it with the paddle attachment in your stand mixer. Once it loosens up, add ½ of the whipped cream, mixing until combined. Fold in the remaining whipped cream and you should be good to go.
Pour the mocha mousse filling into the baked pie crust and let it sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours or until fully set. At this point, you can let the pie sit in the fridge overnight.
Step 3: Make the toasted milk meringue
Don't worry we're almost at the finish line now! All we have to do is top the pie with the toasted milk meringue and we're done.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and toast the dry milk powder until golden brown, stirring halfway through. Keep an eye on the powder because it can quickly go from golden brown to burnt.
Even though the dry milk powder is in powder form, we're going to run it through a spice grinder to make sure it's as fine as possible. Set it aside while you make the meringue.
There are different types of meringues you can use. I chose to go with an Italian meringue since it's more stable. This means that you're going to heat the sugar with water until it's 240 degrees F, then add it to the egg whites. The heat from the sugar will cook the egg whites, which also means you don't have to bake the meringue in the oven.
Once the sugar water mixture reaches 240 degrees, add the dry milk mixture, stirring to combine. Then, slowly add it to the whipped egg whites until it's fully incorporated. Crank up the speed and continue to beat the egg whites until you get stiff peaks.
Plop the meringue on the mocha mousse pie, creating a pretty design with the back of a spoon. Torch the meringue with a blow torch and you're ready to serve up this beauty!
I'm not going to sugarcoat it, this mocha mousse pie with toasted milk meringue is so delicious. The meringue almost tastes like marshmallows and pairs wonderfully with the chocolate and coffee flavors. It's sweet but not overly so. I think it's time for another slice!
Meringue pies are best served fresh for the lightest and fluffiest meringue texture. If you need to make a meringue pie in advance, consider preparing the filling and crust ahead of time, refrigerating them, and adding the meringue topping just before serving.
- To store: Moisture is the enemy of a good meringue. To prevent weeping (the release of liquid from the meringue), store the pie in a cool, dry place in the refrigerator.
- To freeze: It's generally not recommended to freeze meringue pies because the meringue can become soft and lose its texture upon thawing. If you choose to freeze a meringue pie, do so without the meringue topping. Add the meringue after thawing and just before serving.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can make the pie crust and mousse filling the day before. Finish the pie with the meringue on the day you are serving it for the best results.
Yes, you can finely grind the toasted milk powder using a mortar and pestle or by placing it in a sealed plastic bag and gently crushing it with a rolling pin.
While a blowtorch provides the classic toasted effect, you can achieve a similar result by placing the pie under a broiler for a short time. Keep a close eye to prevent burning.
Mocha Mousse Pie with Toasted Milk Meringue
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (185 grams)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup cold butter (113 grams)
- 3-4 tablespoons ice water
- egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
Mocha mousse filling
- 1 ½ cups milk divided (375 ml)
- 2 teaspoons gelatin powder (6 grams)
- ¼ cup cocoa powder (20 grams)
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (9 grams)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 large egg yolks
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (150 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy cream (250 ml)
Toasted milk meringue
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons dry milk powder (26 grams)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- ½ cup water (125 ml)
- 4 large egg whites
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- Make the pie dough. Combine the flour with salt and butter, cutting the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or your hands. Mix until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Slowly add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing just until combined. Shape the dough into a round disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes or until firm.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Lightly dust a work counter with flour. Roll out the pie dough until it's about ¼ inch thick. Drape the dough onto the pie pan, pressing the dough into the pan to create the crust. Crimp the edges and prick the bottom of the crust with a fork several times to prevent it from rising up when baking. Place parchment paper on top of the dough and fill the pie with pie weights. Bake the crust for 10 minutes.
- Remove the parchment paper and weights from the pie crust. Brush the crust with the egg wash and bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the mocha mousse filling. Measure ½ cup cold milk into a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Pour the remaining 1 cup milk into a medium saucepot. Add the cocoa powder, espresso, and salt, whisking until combined. Heat the milk mixture over medium heat until it starts to steam. Add the milk with the gelatin to the pot, whisking to combine. Heat for another minute or until the gelatin is fully dissolved.
- Beat together the egg yolks with sugar and vanilla in a heat-safe bowl. Slowly add the warm milk mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. Don't add the milk all at once or it can cook the eggs and make them scramble. Pour the filling back into the pot and simmer over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool at room temperature for 1 hour or until no longer warm but not fully set.
- Whip 1 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form. When the mocha filling is no longer warm, add ½ of the whipped cream, mixing gently to combine. Fold in the remaining whipped cream and pour the filling into the pie crust. Spread the filling in an even layer and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or until set.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Make the toasted milk meringue. Spread the dry milk powder on the prepared baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5-6 minutes or until golden brown, stirring halfway through. Remove from the oven and pulse the powder in a spice grinder until finely ground. Set aside.
- Combine 1 cup sugar with ½ cup water in a medium saucepot over high heat. Bring the sugar water mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and continue to simmer until it reaches 240 degrees F. Stir in the toasted milk powder.
- Meanwhile, whip the 4 egg whites with cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the hot sugar mixture to the egg whites while the machine is on. Increase the speed to high and continue to beat the eggs until stiff peaks form, about 3-4 minutes.
- Spoon the meringue on top of the pie. Create a design using the back of a spoon, then torch the meringue with a blowtorch. Slice the pie and serve.