This Orange Mousse with Cranberry Sauce is a light, elegant dessert that showcases the sweet-tart beauty of cranberries! You can use store-bought or leftover cranberry sauce for the topping, so it comes together quickly and easily!
Every single Thanksgiving, I have to rediscover how much I like cranberry sauce. Maybe it’s a branding thing. Cranberry sauce is lumped in with all of the other “traditional” Thanksgiving foods, giving it an old-timey, only-on-special-occasions vibe.
I mean, I don’t know about you, but I don’t go around making a giant vat of stuffing for my normal weekday dinners throughout the year. (Although maybe I should, because my stuffing is LEGIT, if I do say so myself…) So mentally, I think of cranberry sauce as one of those recipes that’s dusted off in November, then put away again for another 11 months.
But there is no reason why cranberry sauce needs to be relegated to a short holiday weekend. I mean, it’s basically just a really delicious jam that is served with turkey once a year! For the other 364 days, we should keep it on hand and eat it with toast, oatmeal, in layer cakes, or even by the spoonful.
This Orange Mousse recipe was designed to use up leftover cranberry sauce, so if you have some hanging around, this one’s for you! But if you don’t, it’s well worth whipping up a little batch of cranberry sauce—some for the mousse cups, some for brekkie, and some just to snack on. Cranberries keep VERY well in the freezer, so you can stock up right now and enjoy cranberry goodness throughout the year.
And you don’t have to make your own, either. I love homemade, but nowadays it’s easy to find good-quality cranberry sauce in the refrigerated section of lots of supermarkets, at least during the holiday season. (Please just don’t use the type from a can, unless you REALLY love it.)
These little single-serving mousse cups are light and airy desserts, perfect if you’re suffering from a post-Thanksgiving pie coma. They start with an easy white chocolate mousse, flavored with lots of zingy orange zest and just a touch of Grand Marnier.
The thick layer of cranberry sauce on top keeps the mousse from being too sweet, and orange and cranberry are basically flavor pairing BFFs, so each bite is sweet-tart heaven.
I finished off my mousse cups with a few edible decorations: sparkling glazed cranberries, and homemade candied citrus peel. Both of these are optional, and I think they’re just as tasty and pretty when left unadorned. Or you could add a few white chocolate curls on top—that would be lovely too.
It should be clear that I’m a huge cranberry fan, but if you’re not, of course this could be adapted to work with any jam, jelly, or fruit puree. And the orange mousse can be swapped out with lemon, grapefruit, or even left plain so it’s just a white chocolate mousse. There’s a lot of flexibility, so I encourage you to play with it. Happy eating!
Orange Mousse with Cranberry Sauce
- 9 oz white chocolate chips
- 1 3/4 cups heavy cream divided use
- 1 TBSP Grand Marnier (optional)
- Pinch salt
- 2 TBSP fresh orange zest (from 1 large or 2 medium oranges)
- 2 tsp unflavored powdered gelatin
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce (not from a can, please!)
- ¼ cup cranberry or orange juice
- Sparkling sugared cranberries or candied orange peel to garnish
Combine the white chocolate chips, 3/4 cup of cream, Grand Marnier, if using, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring every 30 seconds, until the white chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour it into a large bowl, whisk in the orange zest, and let it cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
While you wait for the white chocolate mixture to cool, prepare the gelatin. Whisk together the gelatin and the cold water in a small bowl, and set it aside to let the gelatin absorb the water. When the white chocolate is at room temperature and has just started to thicken, microwave the bowl of gelatin for 15 seconds, until it is melted. Whisk the melted gelatin and white chocolate together.
Whip the remaining 1 cup heavy cream to firm peaks. Fold half of the whipped cream into the white chocolate, and once it’s incorporated, gently fold in the remaining whipped cream. Divide the mousse between eight ½-cup ramekins or glasses, and refrigerate for 2 hours, until set.
Blend your cranberry sauce using a stick blender or in short spurts in a conventional blender. You want to break up the cranberries and make it more liquid and spoonable, but don’t blend it so much that it loses all texture. If it’s too chunky, add cranberry or orange juice, a spoonful or two at a time, until you get a texture you like.
Top each mousse cup with a few tablespoons of cranberry sauce. Garnish with sugared cranberries or candied orange peel, if desired.