Monday, May 9, 2011

Recipe: Savory-Sweet Chocolate Mousse and Strawberries

Berries and Mousse3

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.

Honey and goat cheese

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.

Berries and Mousse2

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
Graham crackers
A drizzle of rum
Wafer cookies or tea biscuits
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3.  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).

  4. 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.

  5. 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.
Note: Many traditional mousses call for eggs. I prefer to omit eggs in pastry fillings since, often, little mouths enjoy some of the fun as well!


Melissa@EyesBigger said...

mmmm... we are still a month away from fresh local strawberries so I have to make do with California ones. But I can't wait. We go to a local farm and do u-pick. Always fun to be in the hot sun munching on berries while you fill your bucket. The recipe sounds divine.

Ashley said...

Looks yummy, especially knowing that the mousse isn't over-the-top sweet. I generally like my sweet with a little something else - salt, tart, cream, spice, etc.

I like the handle of the cocoa dipper, and that photo of it alone.

My mom had a dish of potpourri with cinnamon sticks, and I held a stick up to my nose to take a big whiff. Immediately began crying, nose was running, face inflamed, eyes watering, etc.

I thought of that because when I first wrote the comment about the cocoa, I wrote "cinnamon."

Brandi said...

I've never made a mousse. Crazy, no? The problem is that I have a brilliant and easy alternative for strawberries -- whipped cream mixed with nutella. Trust me, it's heavenly and as light as a feather. That said, I'm trying this mousse too.

elissa @ faucethead said...

is there anything better than farmers markets in the summer and spring? i think not. especially if i'm coming home to enjoy my finds with mousse. thanks, as always, for the great recipe.

k said...

that recipe sounds divine i tell you. your story reminded me of when mark and i needed to kill time so we went to the farmers market, bought raspberries and walked around the gardens that were near by, it was lovely :)

Amy Hill said...


I miss you!

Elizabeth said...

This looks so good that you may want to add a "not safe for right before lunch or if you're ravenous" warning. Also possibly, "this post may induce you to run out immediately and purchase copious amounts of strawberries." I love your flavor combinations, and can't wait to get my hands on some berries to try this sweet and tangy concoction (and yes, I am going on a berry hunt right now).

The Cilantropist said...

I love that you experimented with this recipe, all great discoveries and flavors in food happened with a little playfulness and experimentation! this recipe sounds divine, and the color of the mousse is lovely. Also lovely? That antique curled spoon in your cocoa. Priceless.

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Unknown said...

Honestly, I think an unfilled pincushion would be fine! I have mailed pincushions and have had friends who mailed them and the postage is always more than you think it should be...because of the size, not the weight. This little unfilled pin cushion would fit in a little notecard envelope and I'm sure the recipient would be thrilled to receive it!