A papaya mousse is a fruit-based dessert that features either raw papaya flesh or papaya juice and usually some sort of dairy base. There are a great many ways to make papaya mousse, and no definitive recipe. The dessert can be prepared frozen, barely blended, or whipped into an airy foam. Most papaya mousses are designed to be eaten on their own, but they can also be added as fillings to cakes or other baked confections. All are sweet and all contain papaya, but other than that, much is left up to the cook’s discretion.
The term “mousse” can describe any of a broad category of whipped and blended foods. Pureeing is usually the first step. Next, some sort of frothing agent is added, with egg whites and cream being the most common options. The most basic papaya mousse is often little more than liquefied fruit whipped with a splash of cream or a single egg white. More complex versions add different sweeteners, gelatin for firmness, or starches for more substance.
Most papaya mousses are served raw. This style of dessert must usually be whipped and consumed within a relatively short window to prevent the air bubbles from settling and returning to liquid form. Cooks often prepare all of the component parts to their papaya mousse in advance, but wait until moments before serving to whip them all together.
Cooks can often extend the shelf life by baking or freezing the mousse. Baking with papaya is relatively straightforward, and resulting mousses are often compared to light puddings or spoon breads. Heat will set the eggs or cream into something of a light batter, absorbing the moisture of the pureed fruit as a binding. Frozen versions often include ice cream of frozen yogurt in the base and are often presented much as a sherbet or frozen custard would be.
Most papaya mousse presentations are designed for individuals. The dessert is typically scooped into decorative ramekins, bowls, or even martini and wine glasses. Cooks often take many liberties with their papaya mousse presentation. Bits of whole papaya fruit, coconut flakes, and herbs like mint are common garnishes, as are berries or other seasonal produce. Many mousses are drizzled with honey or sweetened syrup as well, or topped with a dollop of whipped cream.
Not every papaya mousse is destined for immediate consumption. Some cooks use the mousse as a spread to separate cake layers, to fill cupcakes, or as a frosting of sorts for a number of baked goods. The natural sweetness of papaya mousse is often a welcome reprieve from more sugary frosting and filling choices and often adds an airy, fresh taste.