Jan 2, 2010

Virtuous Strawberry Mousse

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Happy New Year, darling readers! I hope you had a fabulous time celebrating with family and friends. I told you my big plans involved couching it in my stretchy yoga pants with a glass (or three) of Prosecco. Well, the couch and attire was a go, but unfortunately the bubbly was traded for a steaming cup of Theraflu and my poor husband rang in the New Year alone as I was knocked out cold by 9:30. Rock. Star.

But! One of the bonuses of forcing myself to sloooow dooown earlier in the day was that I got to leaf through cookbooks and long-bookmarked recipes and found one for a delightfully ambrosial and surprisingly virtuous strawberry mousse, just perfect for resetting after the holiday feast-fest and starting off the New Year right. Which is to say that I will be getting all up in your face with a buttery crumb cake before you can say “low fat”. So don’t worry, I’m not going to get all Susan Powter on you in 2010. But this mousse came out so dreamy and lovely that I just had to share it with you, virtue be damned.

This recipe is adapted from Nick Malgieri, he of phenomenal dessert cookbooks and recipes of all sorts. My love for his work comes very close to my near restraining-order-sized love for Lynne Rossetto Kasper and my coveting of all things Ina Garten. I celebrate his Entire. Catalogue. (name that movie!).

So I knew this recipe would at least be good, and that Malgieri wouldn’t let a silly thing like lightening up a dessert get in the way of great flavor and texture, even a mousse, which is classically based on lots of egg yolks and whipped cream. And that definitely was true. This mousse is cloud-like, creamy and has huge strawberry flavor with just a few grams of fat and a wee bit of sugar. And, if you’re counting, a good amount of protein and fiber as well. With some fresh strawberry slices added before serving, the whole thing feels like a simply delicious, edible spa treatment. Everyone together now: spoon, inhale, exhale, ahhhhh…

Virtuous Strawberry Mousse
Adapted from Perfect Light Desserts

Fresh or frozen berries can be used for this recipe. Experiment with other fruits with this formula and switch out the liqueurs accordingly raspberries (framboise), peaches (peach Schnapps) and cherries would be especially good. Be sure to use a small bowl for whipping the egg whites–it can be nearly impossible to get enough air into them if they’re spread out in too large of a bowl. This recipe doubles easily.

Serves 4

2 cups (1 pint) whole strawberries, rinsed and hulled, fresh or thawed and drained frozen
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Kirsch (a clear cherry Brandy, optional)
2 1/2 tablespoons cold water
1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1/3 cup egg whites (from about 2 large eggs)
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries, for serving

In a blender, finely puree the 2 cups of whole strawberries. Pour the puree into a small saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat until the puree is reduced to about 3/4 cup. Stir in the lemon juice and Kirsch and cool to room temperature (pouring it into a chilled bowl will move the cooling along quickly).

Place the water in a small, microwave-safe bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let it soak for about 5 minutes.

When the strawberry puree has cooled, pour it back into the blender, along with the ricotta. Heat the bloomed gelatin in the microwave on high for about 15 seconds or until the gelatin is melted and clear when stirred. Add the melted gelatin to the blender and blend on the highest speed for 1 full minute, stopping to scrape down the pitcher if necessary. Pour the strawberry mixture into a large bowl.

Half-fill a small saucepan with water and set it to simmer over medium heat. In a small, heatproof metal bowl, whisk together the egg whites, salt and sugar. When the water is simmering, place the bowl over the pan and gently whisk until the egg whites are hot to the touch and the sugar has dissolved.

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until the egg whites form a stiff, glossy meringue and the bowl had cooled completely–it should not be warm at all. Gently whisk the meringue into the strawberry mixture until no traces of white remain (a whisk can help with blending). Spoon the mousse into 4 dessert dishes, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve, at least one hour. Top the mousse with the strawberry slices just before serving. The mousse can be made up to one day ahead.

  • This sounds simply wonderful! I'm curious what could be done to make it a suitable pie filling. Any suggestions?

  • This mousse sounds like a wonderful light dessert, and the color is simply gorgeous!

  • Yummy! I actually started off my new years with some delicious s'mores.. this light mousse probably would have been a better choice to start off the new year! Oh well!

  • pckthooks133–I think all that would need to be done would be to double the recipe and then chill the pie once its filled, probably 2 hours or so. The mousse sets up quite firm after that time. Definitely a graham-cracker crust kind of filling, in my opinion. Enjoy and report back!

  • I have experimented with Strawberry Mousse recipes for the last 6 months and so far they are yummy but just a little too airy and light for my taste. I know mousse is light, but these were lighter than whipped cream and just not enough substance for me. Now this recipe sounds a little more substantial…maybe the addition of the ricotta and gelatin? Sounds like the next one I have to try!

  • This sounds like the perfect treat while I work off the few pounds Santa brought me for Christmas!

  • Found your yummy mousse on Tastespotting. Great photo and recipe!
    Plus, it's probably loaded with calcium, another virtue.
    Thanks.

  • this dessert look so yummy. but you can add some whipped cream and strawberry topping jam to make it more delicious

  • sounds amazing and I am in the school that anything that contains fruit is healthy ;)

  • Who know being virtuous could be so fun! :)

  • so, so pretty! here's a toast, with prosecco in hand, to you and your hubby for the new year, shauna!!

  • I have this cookbook too but never use it. Back in my crazy days I ate a lot of BAD desserts b/c they were "low fat." This one looks REALLY good though. Hmm…maybe I will dig out that book and give light desserts another try?

  • I made this tonight for a light fabulous dessert and everyone is begging me to make more!! This is a keeper for sure!

  • It will be great to watch Holiday Bowl, i have bought tickets from
    http://ticketfront.com/event/Holiday_Bowl-tickets looking forward to it.

  • Is this light enough to fill a cupcake with?

  • Sareniti–Definitely, although I'm curious how it would hold up in the cake, like whether or not the cake would absorb some of the mousse. I would probably let the mousse set for a couple hours longer just to really let that gelatin give it some good structure and reduce the chances of that happening. Also, You'd have to eat the cupcakes pretty quickly after eating them and definitely refrig any leftovers ASAP. If you try this, please report back–you've got me wondering how it would work out!

  • First of all, you just made my evening with the Office Space reference. LOL.

    Second, can I put some grand marnier in this? Your photos are beautiful!

  • Adrienne–I don't see why not. Go for it!

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