Hello, wonderful people of the internet!
So this morning I woke up, mostly confused but also with a vaguely ominous feeling because there was a louder beep-beep-beep than usual. It also came with flashing lights and the groans of everyone else as they too rolled out of bed, realizing what was going on.
“Well,” I supposed wryly as I threw on a coat, flung open the door, and was promptly greeted by the torrential downpour outside, “since the building is clearly in no risk of actually burning down, I might as well pop back in for my umbrella.”
Good thought, very early morning me. A+ for you.
But, what is life if not for its silver linings? Here I am at 6:00 AM, not really worse for the wear, if anything maybe a bit more narrative-y and philosophical than usually (but who’s to say I’m not usually like that at this hour in the morning? It’s not exactly like I’m ever awake to find out), and blogging ahead of schedule for once in my life. Despite the rough start, everything’s mostly great. Hooray!
Speaking of silver linings, I also get to vicariously relive my ice cream mousse from Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t actually contain any actual ice cream, and technically the vanilla layer probably shouldn’t have any white chocolate in it, but something about the pink-white-brown-ness of it all reminds me of the Neapolitan ice cream that we always bought when I was a kid. Sometimes in retrospect I wonder if there was any other kind of ice cream in the grocery store aside from Neapolitan and its three constituent flavors. I figure there must have been by the early 2000’s considering Ben & Jerry’s has apparently been around since the late ’70s (thanks, Wikipedia), but for all I know, there might as well not have been since we actually never bought anything else. It was basically the perfect trifecta of flavors: strawberry for me, vanilla for Dad, chocolate for my brother, and ice cream in general for Mom. At any rate, the Neapolitan stripes always bring nostalgic feelings of carefree summer breaks in the suburbs of Ottawa.
This week’s dessert is also brought to you in part by the generous support of chocolate-covered strawberries (and viewers like you. Thank you!) If you wanted to, you could just serve these as a fancy dessert of their own: gourmet dipped strawberries. Basically, you get 2 desserts for 1 this week! (:
At any rate, since they’re really just there for garnish, the chocolate dipping is optional if you decide that it’s too much work, and regular strawberries work just as well. But, as you’ll see, they’re really not that much extra work and are way more exciting than their less chocolate-y counterparts. Also, I didn’t include specific amounts for the ingredients because yes, technically you only need two chocolate covered strawberries to use as garnish – one for each wine glass. But honestly, making two strawberries takes about as much effort (and requires about as much chocolate since you need to melt a good amount to fully dip in your strawberries anyway) as just making a whole box, so you might as well do go ahead and make extra if you decide to dip your strawberries. Also, let’s be honest – “I have too many chocolate covered strawberries,” said no one ever. I’m sure you’ll find some way to handle the surplus like by shamelessly devouring them all.
So grab a spoon, or two if you feel so inclined to share (sharing your chocolate covered strawberries should basically be the mark of true love), and enjoy!
Happy conditionally rainy Tuesday,
Strawberry Mousse adapted from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Makes 2 large wine glassfuls
1 c whipping cream
1.5 oz dark chocolate
1 tsp butter
1 tbs strong coffee
1 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp cocoa powder
2 oz white chocolate
1 tbs whipping cream
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp water
1/2 tsp gelatin powder
1 oz cream cheese
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries:
Whole fresh strawberries
- Whip the cream to soft peaks.
Tip: At this stage, trails formed in the cream by the whisk just begin to stay in place.
- Remove 1/3 of the whipped cream and set aside. Whip the remaining 2/3 to firm peaks.
Tip: At this stage, when you lift the whisk out of the whipped cream, a small peak should form with a tip that slowly curls back down.
- Place all of the whipped cream back into the refrigerator until you need them again.
- Melt together the dark chocolate and butter in the microwave, removing to stir at 15 second intervals until the mixture is smooth.
- Stir in the dark coffee and sugar until well mixed.
- Sift the cocoa powder into the 1/3 soft peak whipped cream set aside earlier and whisk just until fully incorporated.
- Pour the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream all at once and gently fold just until no streaks remain.
- Using a small spoon, divide the mousse among two large wine glasses.
Tip: To prevent air bubbles from being trapped between the glass and the mousse, add in one teaspoonful at a time and gently jiggle the wine glass to allow the mousse to spread between spoonfuls. To smooth out the top of the surface and to remove any stubborn bubbles that form anyway, after adding the last spoonful, poke a chopstick about 1/4″ into the surface of the mousse and gently swirl it around in circles to spread the mousse. Poke the chopstick down into any bubbles that you see along the interior surface of the glass and wiggle around until the bubble disappears!
Also, I used a large, round glass similar to the Chardonnay glass from this handy dandy infographic. If you choose to go the wine glass route, I recommend picking something with a stout bowl and a large, wide rim relative to the maximum width for easy scooping. If not, any transparent glassware works just as well, but for maximum Neapolitan effect, go for something plain without a pattern along the sides!
- Pop the wine glasses into the refrigerator and chill for 1 hour or until the mousse sets.
- Melt together the white chocolate and cream in the microwave, removing to stir at 15 minute intervals until the mixture is smooth.
- Stir in the sugar and vanilla extract until well mixed.
- Divide the remaining whipped cream evenly between two bowls and pour the white chocolate mixture into one of the bowls all at once. Gently fold just until fully incorporated.
- Remove the wine glasses from the refrigerator and carefully spoon the vanilla mousse layer on top of the set chocolate mousse layer.
Tip: If you use the chopstick trick to smooth out the surface of the mousse, take care not to poke all the way down to the chocolate layer, or else you won’t get nice sharp divisions between the layers!
- Pop the mousse back into the refrigerator and chill for another hour until the mousse sets.
- While the vanilla layer chills, in a small bowl, toss the chilled strawberries with the sugar and set aside for about 30 minutes, or until a good amount of water diffuses out to form red strawberry juice in the bowl.
Tip: The process of allowing this sticky layer of juice to form is called maceration! It naturally happens when you mix together fresh fruit and sugar because the water from inside of the plant cells naturally goes toward the less watery sugary coating surrounding the fruit. All science aside, it’s a great way to form an easy, fresh, and brightly fruity strawberry sauce that is great for topping basically anything (:
- While the strawberries macerate, remove the cream cheese from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and warm up to room temperature.
- Mix together the gelatin powder and water in a small dish and set aside to allow the gelatin to fully hydrate and turn transparent.
- Place the macerated strawberries into a blender and puree until smooth.
- Strain the blended strawberry sauce through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds, then set aside 2 tablespoons of the strained mixture.
- Add the remaining strawberry sauce into a small pan and boil over medium-low heat until the mixture reduces to about 2/3 of the original volume. Add the hydrated gelatin and mix well.
- Remove the strawberry sauce from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature. Whisk in the reserved fresh strawberry puree and cream cheese until no streaks remain.
- Pour the entire strawberry mixture into the remaining whipped cream and gently fold together just until fully incorporated.
- Remove the wine glasses from the refrigerator and carefully spoon the strawberry mousse layer on top of the set vanilla mousse layer.
- Pop the mousse back into the refrigerator and chill for another hour until the mousse sets.
- Prepare the chocolate covered strawberries:
- Lay out a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Melt enough dark chocolate in a narrow, microwave-safe container (like a small bowl) to fully submerge the strawberries. Do so by stirring every 15 seconds. Set aside.
- Dip the strawberries into the melted chocolate until only a small border around the stem remains, gently lift out of the chocolate, and allow any excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl.
Tip: To avoid a little point forming at the bottom of your strawberry from where the chocolate dripped off, after a good amount of the excess chocolate is gone, gently invert the strawberry until the small point flows back to form a smooth surface.
- Gently lay the strawberry sideways onto the prepared baking sheet and repeat for the remainder of your strawberries, re-melting the chocolate by heating for 10 seconds as necessary.
- Melt a small amount of white chocolate in a small bowl, stirring every 15 seconds. Using a toothpick, add a small amount of red food coloring to the melted chocolate until it is tinted as desired.
- Place the white chocolate into the corner of a sandwich bag and snip off the very tip to form a small hole for piping.
- Drizzle back and forth over each dried dipped strawberry to form a pink design.
- Allow the strawberries to fully dry, chilling in the refrigerator as desired.
- Whip unsweetened cream to firm peaks stage (lifting the whisk should form sharp peaks that don’t bend back down) and fill into piping bag with any tip as desired. Remove the mousse from the refrigerator and swirl on a small or a large amount of whipped cream, spiraling from the outside in.
Tip: I used the Wilton 1M tip, but any tip will do! I personally would not recommend going with canned whipped cream for this part though simply because the strawberry garnish could collapse the cream.
- Top with a chocolate-covered strawberry and serve immediately! Enjoy (: