A mousse ring is a steel ring which is designed for use in making mousses and building layered dishes such as shortcakes. If you have ever been presented with an immaculate tower of artfully sculpted food and wondered how it was accomplished, wonder no more: the secret is this kitchen tool. Many kitchen supply stores stock mousse rings, in an assortment of sizes and depths, and you can also improvise your own in a pinch; PVC piping works quite well for composing cold dishes, for example.
A typical mousse ring is made from stainless steel because it is durable, and it can withstand both heating and freezing. It is also possible to find plastic rings, for use in building cold desserts. Typically, the ring has a small seam where the ends of the sheet of steel or plastic used to build the ring are joined together. It may also have a lip to support a metal insert which creates a bottom.
Mousse is light, airy, and notoriously runny and hard to handle before it sets. By using a mousse ring, cooks can create a smoothly molded mousse which will look attractive on the plate. These rings can be used for things like layered dessert mousses, along with savory mousses which might include ingredients like shredded fish or vegetables. The mousse is poured into the ring, allowed to set in the fridge or cooked if it is to be served hot, and then unmolded on the plate.
The mousse ring can also be used for other tasks, such as creating a column of mashed potatoes, vegetables, and meats on a plate. Some are especially tall and designed specifically for this purpose; you can also create towers of salad or other foods. Since columns of food can look quite impressive, you may want to acquire a set of mousse rings if you're hosting a fancy dinner party, as composed platters of food can have more of an impact.
When you purchase mousse rings, you may want to think about how you plan to use them. Tall, narrow rings are ideal for things like composed salads, for example, while a shorter, more broad ring works well for a two layered dessert.