The first spring we lived in our house we went out early one Saturday morning, our two dogs and a six month old in tow, in search of our local farmers market. It was both further than we expected and much smaller, so, cash in hand, we bought double the strawberries we would have ever normally purchased.
I rolled the top of the bag down and plopped the bag of berries on top of the stroller for our long walk back home. One of our dogs, unaccustomed to both heat and exercise lingered a bit and our daughter had finally, thankfully fallen asleep. So we walked slowly and ate berries. We talked, soaked up the sunlight, wiped our chins of juices and took an exceptional amount of time to finally arrive home.
Those berries were beyond divine, juicy, bursting, one minute more and they would have spoiled. By the end of the long walk, those berries were also all gone. A moist bag of green tops was all that remained.
Since then we've both been more moderate, and more wise in our local berry buying. Which simply means we buy more and make sure to save some before we've eaten them all at once.
Since spring is upon us, so is berry season. What goes better with strawberries than chocolate? Or whipped cream? Or both, perhaps, whipped into a decadent mousse? Not much. Which is why I whipped up a mousse recently with a little twist.
First, I didn't want the sweetness of the chocolate mousse to overpower the strawberries, to make the naturally sweet flavor seem tart. Second, I wanted some protein in the mix, to balance out the sugar (and not make me crash into a week long coma), so I added in softened goat cheese to both thicken the mousse and add in that hint of balance. Finally, I played.
Experimentation in cooking is crucial. I tried honey instead of other sweeteners, tried cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate, tried half and half instead of heavy cream, tried, tried, tried. Not all of it worked, and that's ok. If you don't play, experiment and try new things you'll never find your winning recipe - in life or food. Maybe your winning recipe is a sparkling beverage with a surprise of muddled herbs on a shady porch, or maybe it's a warm bread, hot out of the oven on an autumn afternoon. Or maybe it's just a bag of fresh fruit and a long walk with your love, every step sweeter than the last, and something worth repeating.
Savory-Sweet Chocolate Mousse
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
4 oz goat cheese, softened, plain
1 cup (8 oz) bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup (or less) confectioners sugar (also known as powdered sugar, icing sugar, or sucre glace)
Serving ideas, serve with (optional):
Fresh fruit: berries, apples, bananas, mango, etc
A drizzle of rum
Wafer cookies or tea biscuits
- In a medium-small microwave safe bowl add chocolate and butter. Microwave 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat until chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool a bit.
- In a large bowl pour heavy cream, cinnamon and vanilla (and garama masala if you are adventureous - I love garama masala for the savory cinnamon flavor with taste of warmth at the end). Mix at medium-high speed until it the mixture begins to stiffen and can form very soft peaks. I prefer to use a stand-mixer for this but you could certainly use a hand-held beater, or even a whisk.
- Add in goat cheese and continue to beat/mix until medium-soft peaks form (the mixture will form a peak when you pull a spoon out, and will stay adhered to a spoon turned upside down).
- Add chocolate and slow mixer to low. Add confectioners sugar, a tablespoon or so at a time, tasting as you go - 1/4 cup may be enough to suit your tastes, or you could go as high as maybe a half a cup. This will depend on your preferences - for me it was less than more as I prefer the little bit of tartness the goat cheese provides to shine through. Turn off mixer.
- At this point you can put the whole bowl of mousse in the refrigerator, covered, or portion into serving dishes. Layer with berries, cookies/biscuits if you like. A few layers of strawberries is divine. While you can eat right away the mousse is much more decadent when chilled to set for a few hours or overnight. The mousse will last a few days to a week...if you don't indulge all at once.