It's summer, but not a great summer. We've had more rain, rain and rain, than anyone could possibly believe. So much rain that strawberry season this year did not have me out with my children, picking, the way we normally do several times each summer.
No, not us this year, the berries were soft, mushy and moldy, and the fields were muddy. And considering I do 95% of the picking while the children do 99% of the taste testing in the field, I didn't want to sit in mud and I didn't want the boys filling up on mushy berries.
Despite this lovely weather (you did catch the sarcastic tone, right?), I've still managed to find a few good local berries and make a few lovely berry desserts.
Let us start with this lovely one, strawberry and blueberry shortcake. Not any shortcake, but Dorie Greenspan's chocolate shortcake. What a better way to showcase summer fruit and mounds of lovely whipped cream?
I'm not going to put up the recipe for this. You know what book it came from, and if you don't own it by now, with most of the food blogging world posting positive reviews on recipes from it each week, well then maybe this offering will give you the final push you need to go get it.
While you are drooling, or ordering your book, I'll get back to berry desserts.
How about this offering? Strawberry and white chocolate mousse cups, which I made for the annual Trigger's Taekwon-Do Family Picnic. Not your usual picnic fare, but I wanted something different, something light and fruity. Mousse, holds up well, despite the high humidity, and pipped into a plastic cup, is portable.
I set these cups out on the picnic table, along side some milk chocolate mousse cups, and they were snapped right up. People seemed to know if they didn't take one right away, when they came back later for dessert, there wouldn't be any left. And there wasn't, these were a huge hit.
We were fortunate that day, the rain held off until near the end of the picnic, by which time most people were wet anyways from the traditional water fight.
And if the black belts weren't wet from the water fight, the rain was a welcome way to wash off the cream all over their faces from the Cream the Black Belts portion of the picnic. Everyone was a good sport it, and took their "creaming" with a smile. (And I do mean everyone, since this glamorous shot is of our school's owner/trainer.)
These are my submission for The Key Ingredient Cook's Kitchen Recipe Contest (KICK).
Strawberry and White Chocolate Mousse
makes 15-18 cups
2 cups chopped, fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sugar, more if berries are not sweet
squirt of fresh lemon juice
3 cups whipping cream, divided into 1 cup and 2 cups
7 oz white chocolate, chopped
fresh strawberries for garnish
Place chopped berries in a medium sized pan, mixed with the sugar and the lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until the berries have cooked and are soft and mushy. Taste to see if you need more sugar - if you add more, cook for an additional few minutes, to be sure the sugar dissolves in the juices.
Move strawberries to a blender and puree. Strain berries into a bowl and allow to cool. You should get at least 1 cup of puree.
In separate bowl, melt chocolate with a splash of the 1 cup of the cream, in a microwave on low, stirring every 20 seconds until almost melted. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly while you whip the remaining cream. When the cream is whipped to firm peaks, carefully fold in the white chocolate.
Spoon the white chocolate mousse into the bottom of 15 - 18 small cups. You will get about a heaping tablespoon of the mousse into each cup. Don't worry if the mousse doesn't seem thick, it will thicken up while chilling.
Place in the fridge to chill.
Once strawberry mixture is cool, whip the remaining 2 cups of whipping cream, again to firm peaks. Carefully fold in 1 cup of the strawberry puree into the cream, being careful not to deflate the cream. Taste the mousse and decide if you want a stronger berry flavor - if you do, add more of the puree.
Carefully spoon the strawberry mousse on top of the white chocolate mousse in the plastic cups. You should get twice as much strawberry mousse on top of the white chocolate. Allow to chill for at least 4 hours or over night before topping with slices of strawberries.
Best eaten if you get a bit of both mousses in each bite.