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Weekend Recipe: Strawberry Mousse

Strawberry Mousse
Cook's Illustrated

Sometimes strawberries start to get mushy as soon as you bring them home. Other times, you discover the batch you bought doesn't have that much flavor. What to do with them, then? Turn them into mousse! Many thanks to Cook's Illustrated for the recipe.

There’s a good reason that strawberry mousse recipes aren’t very prevalent: The berries contain lots of juice, which can ruin the texture of a mousse that should be creamy and rich. Plus, the fruit flavor produced by most strawberry mousse recipes is too subtle. We start by processing berries into small pieces and macerating them with sugar and a little salt. This causes them to release liquid, which we then reduce to a syrup before adding it to the mousse — a technique that not only limits the amount of moisture in the dessert but also concentrates the berry flavor. Then we fully puree the juiced berries, which contribute bright, fresh berry flavor. Finally, we choose our stabilizers carefully: gelatin for structure and cream cheese, an unusual addition, for richer, creamier body.

Strawberry Mousse
Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds strawberries, hulled (6 1/2 cups)
½ cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
Pinch salt
1 ¾ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces and softened
½ cup heavy cream, chilled

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INSTRUCTIONS

This recipe works well with supermarket strawberries and farmers’ market strawberries. In step 1, be careful not to overprocess the berries. For more complex berry flavor, replace the 3 tablespoons of raw strawberry juice in step 2 with strawberry or raspberry liqueur. In addition to the diced berries, you can serve the mousse with Lemon Whipped Cream.

1. Cut enough strawberries into 1/4-inch dice to measure 1 cup; refrigerate until ready to garnish. Pulse remaining strawberries in food processor in 2 batches until most pieces are 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick (some larger pieces are fine), 6 to 10 pulses. Transfer strawberries to bowl and toss with 1/4 cup sugar and salt. (Do not clean processor.) Cover bowl and let strawberries stand for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Strain processed strawberries through fine-mesh strainer into bowl (you should have about 2/3 cup juice). Measure out 3 tablespoons juice into small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over juice and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Place remaining juice in small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 3 tablespoons, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat, add softened gelatin mixture and stir until gelatin has dissolved. Add cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Transfer mixture to large bowl.

3. While juice is reducing, return strawberries to now-empty processor and process until smooth, 15 to 20 seconds. Strain puree through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solids to remove seeds and pulp (you should have about 1 2/3 cups puree). Discard any solids in strainer. Add strawberry puree to juice-gelatin mixture and whisk until incorporated.

4. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip cream on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and whip until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk whipped cream into strawberry mixture until no white streaks remain. Portion into dessert dishes and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours. (If chilled longer than 6 hours, let mousse sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.) Serve, garnishing with reserved diced strawberries.

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