As I mentioned recently, "I have a relatively small number of cookbooks and treasure all of them." Mollie Katzen's The Enchanted Broccoli Forest is part of my collection and it shows unmistakable signs of repeated use. One recipe from the book that I have been making for a number of years and that is a favorite with my husband and anybody who's ever tasted it is the fresh strawberry mousse.
The word mousse, imported into Italian from the French language, refers to a dessert usually containing cream or eggs. The mousse under consideration here contains no eggs. It may be made with whipped cream (panna montata), but it can also be made with yogurt, like I do, and the result is a delicious fruity, fresh-tasting, and light dessert. My version of the recipe departs in several details from the original to answer my preference for lightly-sweetened desserts and my sensitivity to the flavor of corn starch (amido di mais), which make me decrease the quantities of both relevant ingredients.
I am delighted that Mollie Katzen has put a lot of her recipes online. The one for fresh strawberry mousse is shown in a way that reproduces the original page where it appeared. When I started experimenting in the kitchen, the graphic design of the cookbook's pages made the recipes somewhat more approachable and gave me more confidence that I could follow them to completion and also adjust them as I wished: it was like adding my handwriting to that of the author.
Without further ado, here is my list of ingredients:
- 2 baskets of organic strawberries [see the Note below]
- 1/4 cup vanilla (superfine) sugar (zucchero), which I make by keeping immersed into the sugar in tall jars whole vanilla beans and/or split vanilla beans previously used to make ice cream, like this one, or this one)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (succo di limone)
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (from an organic lemon) grated with the Microplane zester
- 1 cup (8 oz.) firm non-fat yogurt [note the underlined adjective]
Note about strawberries: there are some foods I always buy organic and strawberries are one of those (this paragraph on strawberries and pesticide residues explains why).I usually buy strawberries at the farmers' market by the basket (the commonly used green plastic baskets). I never bring the baskets home: I empty them in a bag and return them to the farmer for reuse. I weighed the strawberry once, but forgot to write down the result: I seem to remember it was 22 oz. or so.
To prepare the mousse, I follow the procedure as described in the original recipe. The only difference is that when I first cook the strawberries, I leave the pot uncovered (for no special reason: this is how I did it the first time and I have continued doing) and stop the cooking as the strawberries start to soften and juice, so I can't say they look like soup.
The day I decided to take a couple of photos for a planned post, I looked at the pool of white yogurt in the middle of a sea of strawberry red and decided to play with it using a chopstick before folding it in properly. Mindful of my partiality for marbling paper, I swirled the chopstick and achieved a sort of combed marbled pattern.
After taking a few photographs, I folded the yogurt into the puréed strawberries. I usually serve the mousse as is, but for the photo op above, I decided to add a bit of chocolate shavings, to create some color contrast.
Try the original recipe, or my variation, or create your own, but please, do let this mousse tempt you. It is a great way to celebrate strawberry season, which in California, where I live, is blessedly long.
This, as you may have guessed, is my contribution to edition #236 of Weekend Herb Blogging, an event started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, now organized by Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once and hosted this week by yours truly.
This post contains the roundup of the event.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the mousse di fragole fresche con yogurt audio file [mp3].