~ Pretty in Pink: Easy, Elegant Strawberry Mousse ~
It's amazing what biting into a fresh, juicy strawberry can do to lift your spirits up and out of the Winter doldrums. Strawberries are in season in Florida right now and I for one am grateful. I've been binge-buying these plump, sweet beauties for about two weeks now -- this is my third 2-pound box. We've enjoyed strawberries with homemade rum cake and pastry cream, strawberry sauce on strawberry ice cream, sliced strawberries with fig-infused balsamic vinegar, and, because these are so sweet, just plain strawberries with softly-whipped cream dolloped on top!
A bit about mousse (mOOse): This French term means "froth" or "foam" because the technique involves whipped egg whites or whipped cream to give the end product its signature light, airy texture. It has both sweet and savory applications, and, it can be eaten cold or hot.
Savory mousses, which typically use egg whites, can be made of meat, fish, shellfish, fois gras, cheese or vegetables, and, many times they are baked in the oven, in a bain marie (water bath) to prevent the mixture from curdling. That said, for the home cook, the word mousse is usually associated with an easy-to-prepare cold dessert made from fruit puree or chocolate that is typically fortified with unflavored gelatin and folded into stiffly-whipped cream.
Fruits that make the best mousse: This is personal. I am not a botanist, but, I've made enough of mousse in my lifetime to know that some fruits work better than others. Drupe fruit, also known as stone fruit (apricots, cherries, mangos, peaches, etc.), and berries (blueberries, blackberries, kiwi, raspberries, etc.), make magnificent mousse. I've also made decent mouse with pome fruit (apples, pears, quince, etc.), but, because of their naturally gritty texture, I don't love the end result nearly as much as the aforementioned. While other fruits can certainly be used, I find watery fruits in general, citrus and melons, the most difficult to work with, plus, they usually require more gelatin and result in a product more resemblant of Jello-O than I prefer.
Mousse is an excellent way to use up a goodly amount of slightly-overripe strawberries!!!
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier (a French orange-flavored liqueur)
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 cups whipping cream, cold
3 tablespoons Confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
~ Step 1. Slice the strawberries into 1/4"-thick pieces, placing them in a medium bowl as you work. Add the sugar and the Grand Marnier. Using a large rubber spatula, stir to thoroughly combine. Set aside, to allow the strawberries to macerate, for 15 minutes, stirring with the spatula 3-4 times during this time. This will infuse the berries with the flavor of the liqueur, as well as draw excess liquid from the berries.
~ Step 2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the strawberries to the workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, leaving all juices remaining in bottom of bowl. There will be about 1/4 cup. Measure them. If you don't have 1/4 cup, add water to total 1/4 cup.
~ Step 4. While gelatin is blooming, process the strawberries to a puree, starting with 15-20 rapid on and off pulses, then turning the motor on for 45-60 seconds. Transfer the berry puree to a medium bowl.
~ Step 5. Place the gelatin, which is now very thick, in the microwave. Melt it, without allowing it to simmer or boil, 10-15 seconds.
~ Step 6. Add the gelatin to the puree and stir thoroughly. Set aside for 15-20 minutes.
Note: Because the next step is to whip the cream, I use this 15-20 minute time period to place a stainless steel bowl and the stainless steel beater blades of my mixer in the refrigerator to chill.
~Step 7. Place the chilled cream, Confectioner's sugar and vanilla extract in the chilled bowl. Over high speed of hand-held electric mixer, beat until stiff peaks form, scraping down the sides of the bowl constantly, about 3-4 minutes. Turn mixer off and set it aside.
~ Step 8. Using a large rubber spatula, working quickly but gently, begin folding the strawberry puree into the whipped cream, in four increments, folding well, but not necessarily thoroughly after each addition. When all puree has been added, now is the time to fold until mixture is uniform in color.
~ Step 9. Gently spoon and evenly divide mousse between 8, 8-ounce parfait glasses, stemmed wine glasses or your favorite 1-cup dessert bowls or ramekins.
~ Step 10. Refrigerate 3-4 hours or overnight prior to serving chilled. At serving time garnish each portion with a dollop of freshly-whipped cream and a whole strawberry or a festive strawberry fan.
Celebrate Spring in a scrumptious way...
... topped w/freshly-whipped cream & garnished with a berry!
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; large rubber spatula; large slotted spoon; food processor; hand-held electric mixer; 8, 8-ounce parfait glasses or stemmed wine glasses, or, 1-cup dessert bowls or ramekins
Cook's Note: For another one of my favorite "think Spring" ways to serve strawberries, you should try my recipe for ~ Sweet Dreams: Creme Patissiere (Pastry Cream) ~. Pictured here are 3" rounds from a layer of rum cake (the cake I use to make my ~ Oh Baby it's Never to Cold for Boston Cream Pie ~), topped with a layer of thinly-sliced strawberries, pastry cream and a strawberry fan. Both recipes can be found in Category 6 or 26!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)