So we’re 2 months into the strawberries season and I haven’t prepared even one single dessert using them! I did discover several great places to buy beautiful and relatively cheap strawberries, and actually that’s one of the few benefits of my college moving from the lively center of Tel Aviv into the also-lively center of Jaffa… So until now I only bought them for us to eat straight up, or sometimes with a little sugar scattered upon them. But last week I decided to use them for preparing a sweet goodie. I also decided to combine this with making my first ever mousse cake.
Mousse cakes are something I wasn’t technically able to prepare for a long time, since I didn’t have a proper mixer. Since I bought the KitchenAid last September, I’ve been planning to prepare one, but the chance hasn’t come up, and truthfully, I was also a little scared of trying it.
Looking for interesting recipes of strawberry mousses, I’ve found Martha Stewart’s recipe for strawberry mousse cake that looked promising, so I decided to take the recipe of only the mousse from it. I combined it with an improvised base made of biscuit crumbs, butter, lemon zest and strawberry puree. For the topping I planned to use Martha’s white chocolate ganache, but Avi doesn’t like eating big amounts of white chocolate, and since there was also white chocolate in the mousse, I decided to use milk chocolate. So far so good. But when we got to the store to buy that milk chocolate – I thought to myself – why not make it even more special and use one regular milk chocolate bar and one Nougat filled milk chocolate bar? This was the crucial mistake that made the topping of the cake lumpy (pieces of the nougat that didn’t dissolve well, I presume), instead of it being silky-smooth, the way ganache should be…
To sum up the whole story: the mousse was really tasty and had a great creamy texture, and there was just the right amount of each ingredient in it – the strawberries were very noticeable but didn’t overwhelm it, the amount of sugar was just accurate, and the white chocolate was barely noticeable taste-wise, but contributed to the great general texture. The biscuit base was also wonderful - the lemon zest and the strawberry puree really gave it a good twist. The only thing to improve is the ganache – next time I’ll definitely make it using white or dark chocolate.
Strawberry and white chocolate mousse cake / Mousse adapted from Martha Stewart & Self recipe for the base
For a(half-sphere) mold with at least 1.6 liter capacity
For the base:
130 gr petit-beurre biscuits
70 gr butter, melted
2 Tbsp strawberry puree (from the mousse)
the zest of half of a medium-sized lemon
For the mousse:
450 gr (1 pound) strawberries, hulled and halved
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
230 gr (8 ounces) white chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream
2 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar
For the ganache:
2/3 cup (160 ml) heavy cream
340 gr (12 ounces) white chocolate, finely chopped
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
whole and halved strawberries, for garnish
Prepare the mousse:
1. Puree halved strawberries in a food processor. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice; set aside.
2. Melt chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth; set aside.
3. Put 1/4 cup cool water into a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over top; let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir 1/4 cup cream and the confectioners’ sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add gelatin mixture, and stir until gelatin has dissolved. Pour into bowl with the melted chocolate, and stir until smooth. Reserve 2 Tbsp of the strawberry puree for the base, and whisk the rest of it into the bowl with the chocolate.
4. Put remaining 1 3/4 cups cream into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until medium peaks form. Whisk one-third of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the remaining whipped cream using a large rubber spatula. Move into the half-sphere mold and refrigerate 1 hour.
Meanwhile prepare the base:
1. Measure the diameter of the mold that contains the mousse. Measure it at the mousse’s level (and not at the top of the mold), in order to know which diameter should the base have. With the mold I used, the diameter was 20.5 cm. I used an adjustable cake ring, adjusted to 20.5 cm, for forming the base’s shape, it’s also possible to use a regular round pan of the matching size.
2. Smash the biscuits to crumbs using a food processor.
3. Transfer the crumbs to a separate bowl or continue working in the food processor’s bowl (to save the wash of one more dish :) ), and add the melted butter, lemon zest and the 2 Tbsps of strawberry puree. Mix all the ingredients well together.
4. Lay the base mixture out on the bottom of the chosen pan (if you chose to use a ring, its bottom should be sealed with aluminium foil), tighten it using a spatula or the bottom of a clean glass, and put in the freezer until the mousse comes out of the fridge.
5. After the 1 hour has passed, take the mousse out of the fridge and the base out of the freezer, and place the base on top of the mousse. Press the base gently, to attach it to the mousse. Put the mousse in the freezer.
One hour and a half before serving it, prepare the ganache:
1. Bring cream just to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour hot cream over the chocolate in a medium bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Stir in salt and lemon juice. Let stand until ganache is pourable and has cooled slightly.
2. Take the half-sphere mold out of the freezer, put the bottom of it in a bowl with boiling water (the water must not touch the mousse at all) for 2-3 seconds only, then turn the mold upside down and support the base of the mousse with your hand. Give the base a little push, and the whole cake will easily pop out of the mold into your hand. Place a rack on top of a big baking pan, and place the cake on the rack.
3. Pour ganache over top of cake, allowing it to drip down sides. Refrigerate assembled cake 1 hour before serving. Using 2 large spatulas, transfer cake to a serving platter. Garnish with strawberries.