Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Strawberry Mousse

Creme Anglaise Heavy Consistency For Mousse

Finished heavy strawberry syrup puree

A nice elegant strawberry mousse made with classic French techniques!

     This strawberry mousse is not made with gelatin thickened strawberry cream and whipped cream.  That would be cheating!  That style of mousse is common on cheaper buffets and it is usually reserved for easy home style cooking.
     This mousse is not a creme anglaise and whipped cream mousse!  That type of mousse is often use by pastry chefs for complex cake and dessert assemblies.  I posted a blog entry for a chocolate butter cream cake a few months ago that featured a chocolate mousse and chocolate glacage coating.  That cake was made at the chef school with a patented recipe.  I could not post more than a description of the steps and techniques involved in assembling that cake.
     Today's strawberry mousse blog entry is made the high end classic French way.  A thick creme anglaise flavored with a heavy syrup made from fresh strawberries is the pudding base of this mousse.  Italian meringue gives this mousse a classic texture.  Fresh whipped cream was the third part of the mousse assembly.  These three recipes are required for a classic French mousse!
     The heavy strawberry syrup and a strawberry gastrique are made in similar ways.  The sugar is cooked to the hard crack stage, then chopped strawberries are added.  The sugar will seize at that moment and the sugar will pull all the flavor and color out of the strawberries.
     No artificial colors were added to this mousse, so it is a very pale natural strawberry cream color.  If you prefer the pink color for a strawberry mousse, then add 2 to 3 drops of organic red food coloring per portion.
     Springtime is strawberry season.  Strawberry mousse is a classic dessert for spring!
     Note:  This recipe makes enough mousse for 2 petite servings.  Double the recipe if you have plenty of strawberries!  Keep in mind that the finished amount of each of the following recipes may not be exactly equal to each other.  Mousse proportions of the three items should be close to equal amounts, but they do not have to be exact.  Extra whipped cream or extra Italian meringue is okay, when combining.

     Thick Creme Anglaise Mousse Base: 
     Heat 1 cup of cream in a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 5 drops of vanilla extract.
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar.
     Add 2 tablespoons of brandy.
     Stir the ingredients.
     When the cream mixture is heated to about 160 degrees, remove the pot from the heat.
     Place 3 egg yolks into a mixing bowl.
     Slowly add 1 ounce of the hot cream mixture at a time, while constantly whisking.
     Place the creme anglaise back into the sauce pot.
     Place the sauce pot over medium low/low heat.
     Constantly whisk, till the sauce thickens.  (Do not allow the sauce temperature to go higher than 140 degrees, or the egg yolks will break from the cream!)
     Note:  If the creme anglaise does not thicken to a thick pudding consistency, then add a very small amount of corn starch and water slurry.  The creme anglaise will have to be stirred, till the slurry thickens the creme anglaise.  
     Remove the creme anglaise from the heat.
     Chill the thick creme anglaise in a refrigerator.

     Heavy Strawberry Syrup Puree:
     Chop 1 1/3 cups of strawberries.
     Heat 1 cup of water in a sauce pot over high heat.
     Add 1/3 cup of water.
     Cook the sugar liquid, till the water has evaporated and only the sugar remains.
     Note:  The sugar will look bubbly, as it goes through the 4 stages of doneness, before it reaches hard crack stage of 300 to 310 degrees.  Do not over cook the sugar to the yellow amber stage of doneness!  Use a calibrated candy thermometer, if you cannot judge the stages of sugar by eye.  (It takes a few years of experience to recognize sugar stages by eye!)
     Cook the molten sugar, till it reaches the hard crack stage temperature.
     Immediately add the chopped strawberries!
     Do not stir!
     Lower the temperature to medium low heat.
     Allow the molten sugar to seize.  The sugar will pull all the color and flavor out of the strawberries.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of water.
     Gently simmer, till the seized sugar returns to a syrup.
     Gently simmer and reduce the syrup, till it becomes very thick.
     Pour the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Press the strawberry pulp through the strainer.
     Scrape the clinging puree from bottom of the strainer into the container.
     Chill in a refrigerator.     
     Whipped Cream: 
     Place 1 cup of cream into a chilled mixing bowl.
     Add 2 teaspoons of sugar.
     Whisk the cream, till stiff peaks are formed. 
     Refrigerate the whipped cream.  
     Italian Meringue:  
     Cook 1/2 cup of white sugar and 1 cup of water over medium high heat in a small sauce pot.  Do not shake the pot!
     Cook the sugar, till the sugar reaches the soft ball stage.  (235F to 240F degrees)
      A few minutes before the sugar reaches soft ball stage, whisk 2 egg whites, till medium stiff peaks are formed.
      Slowly add the hot molten soft ball stage sugar by pouring a thin stream of the hot sugar into the meringue, while constantly whisking.  (I do this by hand!  Use a mixer if you have one!)
     When all the sugar is added, the Italian meringue should be tight textured and very shiny.  Refrigerate the Italian meringue.
     Strawberry Mousse: 
     They proportions of combining the three major ingredients should be done by eye, with weight kept in mind.  The proportions do not need to be exact.  The goal is to assemble a light airy puffy elegant mousse!  
     After all four ingredients are thoroughly chilled, get a chilled mixing bowl and rubber spatula ready.
     Place the Creme Anglaise into a mixing bowl.
     Fold the Heavy Strawberry Syrup Puree into the Creme Anglaise.
     Very gently fold the Whipped Cream into the Strawberry Creme Anglaise, one third at a time, till blended.  (Do not over mix!  Just barely combine the two ingredients!)
     Fold the Italian Meringue into the mousse mixture, one third at a time.  (Do not over mix or the air texture will deflate!)
     Cover the mixing bowl.
     Refrigerate the mousse for at least 4 hours.
     Spoon the strawberry mousse into a chilled dessert glass or champagne glass.
     Garnish the strawberry mousse with a simple fanned strawberry.

     Viola!  Classic Strawberry Mousse!  Strawberry mousse that was not made the easy way too.  Take pride in making this recipe correctly, because it is difficult to do.  
     If the mousse turns out like a liquid for some reason, then use it as a sauce and then figure out where the problem started.  Don't feel bad if this mousse does not turn out perfect the first time.  This is a difficult classic French mousse recipe for beginners to cook.  Practice makes perfect!  Yum!  ...  Shawna  

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