I met Miami based chef, Carolina Molea at Victoria Moran’s Main Street Vegan Academy, when she was enrolled in the program. Pastry people recognize one another – there is a certain look we get when talking about a dessert we tasted and then went on to veganize, or a type of chocolate, or a specific technique. I saw that passion in Carolina before I knew of her stellar credentials. We met for a meal, maybe two, when she was back in New York City and our bond continued to grow and deepen. Carolina enrolled in my Essential Vegan Desserts Course at Rouxbe, and the work she did astonished and inspired. When I posted on the private facebook page for Essential Vegan Dessert students that I was going to be teaching a class at Valrhona in Brooklyn on April 19th, Carolina replied that she’d love to come. I said “sure, come co-teach.” Well, next thing I knew, Carolina actually booked a plane ticket to New York City! We had a ball collaborating on the menu, and met last night for dinner at the new ABC V to confer in person. (By the way, there may be a seat open for the class.) The work she does making exquisite pastries that just happen to be vegan is like no other.
I am delighted to introduce chef Carolina Molea as the April guest blogger in my Fabulous Women in Food series!
I come from a big matriarchal family, where my grandma Ana was the head of the kitchen, she always made sure we were properly fed before leaving the house. Everyday we had fresh fruit juices or smoothies with lunch, from passion fruit to Andean Mora, and anything in between. She was the first Juicer Guru I ever met! One of my favorites was soursop smoothie, to me it was a real mystery how this ugly-looking fruit could provide this absolutely amazing flavor, sweet and tangy, creamy and sour… the complexity of the soursop has always fascinated me.
So, after doing some research and many trials in my kitchen, I developed the perfect recipe for a soursop mousse that almost brought me to tears of happiness. I use agar powder, a plant based substance obtained from red algae that is commonly used for its thickening properties, and aquafaba, the chickpeas brine liquid that everyone is talking about.
Working with fruit based mousses has many benefits:
- They are naturally gluten free.
- You need less added sugar, because the fruits provide most of the sweetness.
- They are light and refreshing.
- You can buy fruits that are in season and freeze the pulp to be used at a later time. I usually buy my fruit pulps from my local supermarket, in Miami we are lucky enough to have a wide variety to choose from; but you could also order any fruit pulp online.
- You don’t need an oven to make a delicious mousse dessert.
To make this dessert even more appealing, I made a mango fluid gel to pair with the soursop and the result is this beautiful and elegant dessert that can be served in any fancy restaurant. You will taste the flavors of my country, Venezuela, in every spoonful. Now that the weather is warming up, this soursop mousse is a refreshing and light option to surprise your family and friends. You can subsitute raspberry puree for the soursop. The mousse will be just as delightful.
For the Soursop Mousse
- 1 recipe of vegan meringue
- 1 tablespoon/8 g/ 0.30 oz Agar powder
- 1 ½ cup + 1 tablespoon/397g/14oz Soursop Pulp, thawed
- ½ cup/115 g/4 oz Coconut Milk, full –fat
- 1 cup/225g / 8 oz Organic cane sugar
- Pinch of sea salt
- 3 tablespoons/ 33 g/ 1.20 oz Lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon/ 9 g/ 0.30 oz organic cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons/ 24g/ 0.85oz of water, room temperature
For the Mango Gel
- 1 teaspoon/4 g/ 0.15 oz Agar powder
- 1 cup/ 250 g/ 8 oz Mango Puree
- 1 tablespoon/ 11 g/ 0.4 oz Lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon/16 g/ 0.55 oz Organic Cane Sugar
Make the Soursop Mousse
- Make the Vegan Meringue.
- In a medium saucepan, pour the soursop puree over the agar; do not stir or heat. Set aside for 10 minutes or longer to allow the agar to hydrate.
- Whisk the coconut milk, lemon juice, sugar, and salt into the bloomed agar. Bring to a simmer, whisking frequently until sugar has dissolved. Make sure you whisk the bottom and the walls of the pot, coconut milk burns easily.
- Stir the cornstarch and water with a fork to incorporate the starch. Whisking constantly, add the slurry to the simmering liquid. Bring to a full boil, lower the heat to maintain a low boil, and cook for a minute or so. The mixture will feel thicker almost immediately. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Pour the mixture into a shallow bowl and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes, or until the gel is very firm. Once firm, cream in a food processor using the S blade, pulse gently until creamy.
- Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add 1 spoonful of vegan meringue, using a rubber spatula, incorporate the meringue into the mixture with folding motions. Repeat the previous step slowly, until you add approximately 1 cup of meringue. Keep in mind that if you add too much meringue, the mixture will eventually turn watery.
Make the Mango Gel
- In a small saucepan, pour the mango puree over the agar; do not stir or heat. Set aside for 10 minutes or longer to allow the agar to hydrate.
- Add sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, whisking frequently for a couple of minutes until sugar has dissolved. Make sure you whisk the bottom and the walls of the pot.
- Pour the mixture into a shallow bowl and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes, or until the gel is very firm. Once firm. Cut the agar gel in small cubes and blend the gel cubes thoroughly using an immersion blender until smooth.
- Pass the fluid gel through a fine sieve.
- Store in a sealed container or squeeze bottle in the fridge until ready to use.
- Transfer the mousse to a piping bag. In a small dessert glass, serve the mango gel, add mousse, more mango gel and garnish with diced fruit of your choice, I recommend dragon fruit, mango, kiwi, and berries. Finish with piped vegan meringue, edible flowers and fresh mint leaves.
- Store the mousse in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
I made this tart for the class I am co-teaching tonight, April 19, at Valrhona with Fran. I was so happy when she said, “Wouldn’t it be fun to co-teach?” that I bought a ticket and came up from Miami. There may still be one or two spaces open. Join us! It was a true collaboration as the tart crust recipe, raspberry glee (not shown) and design were mine, and the chocolate cream filling, gel, and aquafaba meringue were Fran’s recipes from the Essential Vegan Desserts Course, which I took.
The Le Cordon Bleu-trained and American Culinary Federation Certified chef, Carolina Molea was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela in a home where food was always at the center of celebrations. Her grandmother Ana, a professional cook, taught her how herbs and spices create dazzling dishes full of love and flavor. Carolina also learned the healing power of food and the great responsibility to nourish not only the bodies, but also, the souls of those we cook for. Carolina’s commitment to greater health through delicious, nutritious, and beautiful food comes through in her globally-inspired recipes.
She currently works as a private consultant for restaurants and juice bars in the city of Miami, she is a private vegan chef for special clients, and teaches at Mariano Moreno Culinary School.
Carolina is the proud mom of four beautiful children: Valeria & Diego (The Twins), Peke the Yorkie and Mackenzie the golden retriever. She loves to spend her free time traveling with her family, binge-watching Netflix with her loving husband Jonathan, and practicing belly dance with her friends at Belly Motions in the city of Miami.
Her dream, is to open her own vegan bakery where she will showcase all her skills and her love for elegant, delicious and beautiful desserts.