Mousse is a delightful dessert: rich, creamy, light, and fluffy–some times chocolatey, some times fruity, but always delicious. As a part of my strawberry lust, I decided to have some of the best of both worlds with a strawberry white chocolate mousse.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, strawberries are at their peak in my neck of the woods–they taste great and are stunningly cheap, so being a frugal man, I bought several pounds of strawberries without any forethought. The solution? Make lots of dessert!
I’d been meaning to make a chocolate mousse for some time, but that idea always got swept aside when something better came along. However, this just seemed like a perfect combination, so finally, mousse got to have its day! I adapted this recipe from a chocolate mousse recipe in The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert and the result was fantastic–a very light dessert that has you thinking summer despite it only being the meek beginnings of spring. The mousse was creamy, fluffy, slightly pink, and specked with slivers of strawberry throughout. The taste was sweet, creamy, and just strawberry through and through with the white chocolate providing more of a backbone and not an in-your-face chocolate flavor that really complimented the strawberry well.
This is also one of my entries in Strawberry Seduction–and its not too late for you to join in while the winter crop is at its peak!
- 1 lb strawberries
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 8 oz white chocolate
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 4 eggs (at about room temperature)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- small amount of gelatin or cornstarch for thickening
Begin by pureeing some of the strawberries. The goal is to have about 1 cup’s worth of puree, which out of a pound of strawberries, will amount to roughly 3/4 of your berries, so hull no more than 3/4 of them and put them all through a food processor or blender, pulsing until very smooth. You might consider putting the ugly ducklings in the puree, saving the sexier strawberries for later.
Of course, all of those seeds might detract from the silky smooth mousse texture that we’re going for, so pour all of that puree through a strainer, pressing and rubbing it with your hands to help speed it on through. Let this continue to drip and strain while you work on other things.
So we had a few other great looking strawberries remaining. Hull them and slice them into moderately thin strips, maybe even halving those down into smaller chunks. We will ultimately mix these pieces in with the mousse to provide a little visual appeal, interesting texture, and little bursts of strawberry flavor. You might consider saving your absolute super model strawberries for garnish later on.
Anyways, onto the rest of the mousse. Set up a double boiler, getting some water gently simmering in a pan with a bowl set up over the heat (forming something of a seal but not in direct contact with the water!). In the bowl, add the white chocolate chunks as well as the butter (also broken into chunks) and whisk this as it melts down until totally mixed, glossy, and smooth.
Once the chocolate mixture has melted down, take it off of the double boiler and away from heat. Separate your eggs, setting the whites aside in a bowl for later. Add the yolks to the chocolate mixture one at a time, whisking very well until completely incorporated before adding the next yolk. Finally, mix in the vanilla, whisking until fully incorporated and smooth again. Let this cool for about 10 minutes, periodically stirring. It should look thick and just be tempting you sample a scoop.
Now, take the strawberry puree and squeeze in the lemon juice to help keep it looking good and give it a little bite. Set 1/4 cup of this aside in the fridge container for garnish at serving time. We’re going to mix the remaining ~3/4 cup of puree into the chocolate mixture. However, this will thin this beautifully thick mixture out a bit. Due to poor planning, I didn’t have any gelatin handy, so I hastily boiled a cornstarch slurry to activate it (about 1/4 tsp of cornstarch mixed with a small amount of water, I might use a little more next time) and then mixed it in with the puree. Finally, mix the puree in with the chocolate mixture, stirring well.
While you wait on that, on to the things that will make this mousse nice and fluffy. First, in a bowl, add the heavy cream, whipping on medium speed until semi-firm peaks form when you lift the beaters. This is the kind of thing where stand mixers shine. 😉 Set this aside and now go to your egg whites bowl with clean beaters. Beat the egg whites and salt on medium-high until you get soft peaks, and once you do, continue to beat while gradually mixing in the sugar which will help stabilize the eggs and get you to your destination: glossy, firm peaks.
So the end is near. All that remains: putting it all together. Begin by gently folding the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula, folding only as much as necessary to get things streaky. Don’t bother trying to make the mixture homogenous or you’ll beat too much of the air out of the cream! Now, do the same with the egg whites, but this time, in the end, continue to fold just until the mousse is totally blended. If you overwork this, all of the air you beat into the cream and egg whites will poof out and your mousse will look sad and sloshy. Lastly, add in the diced strawberries, folding just enough to distribute them throughout the mix.
Finally, cover this bowl with plastic wrap, and let this rest for an hour in the fridge to thicken it up some. Then, portion this out (I used 6 large glasses–or leave it in the same bowl if you so desire) several hours in the fridge to thicken up. Once its serving time, dressing this up to look pretty is easy–simply pour on a bit of the reserved strawberry puree for some color and tartness, add a dollop of home-made whipped cream (er, chantilly!), and finally, top it off one of your super model strawberries.