It’s finally strawberry season here! I usually make jam or strawberry shortcake but I wanted to elevate them somehow and this recipe feels very summery and elegant! I love that you can make it up to 48 hours in advance too.
This make-ahead strawberry mousse is rich, creamy and full of intense berry flavor! Processing the strawberries into small pieces and letting them sit with sugar and a little salt causes them to release liquid. Reducing that into a syrup before adding it to the mousse reduces the amount of moisture in the dessert and concentrates the berry flavor. Pureeing the juiced berries results in bright, fresh berry flavor. Gelatin adds structure and cream cheese gives the mousse the perfect rich and creamy texture!
- 1 pound strawberries, hulled (3 1/4 cups)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Pinch salt
- 3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 4 pieces and softened
- 1/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
- Cut enough strawberries into 1/4-inch dice to measure 1/2 cup and refrigerate until ready to garnish. Pulse the remaining strawberries in a food processor until most pieces are 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick about 6 to 10 pulses. Transfer strawberries to a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons sugar and salt. (Don't clean the processor.) Cover the bowl and let strawberries stand for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Strain processed strawberries through a fine-mesh strainer into bowl, you should have about 1/3 cup juice. Measure out 1 1/2 tablespoons juice into small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the juice, and let sit until the gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Place remaining juice in small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1 1/2 tablespoons, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, add softened gelatin mixture, and stir until the gelatin has dissolved. Add cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Transfer mixture to large bowl.
- While juice is reducing, return strawberries to empty processor and process until smooth, 15 to 20 seconds. Strain the puree through a fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on the solids to remove seeds and pulp, you should have 3/4 to 1 cup puree. Discard the solids in the strainer. Add strawberry puree to juice-gelatin mixture and whisk until combined.
- Using a 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 2 tablespoons sugar and whip until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk whipped cream into the strawberry mixture until no white streaks remain. Portion into dessert dishes and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours. Serve, garnishing with reserved diced strawberries.
- If chilled longer than 6 hours, let mousse sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.
My “Gamer” Valentine’s Day Love Story
We met in an online game. Star Wars Galaxies to be exact.
It’s weird telling people how we met, “How’d you meet?” “umm…in an online game…” We are met with either blank stares or “That’s so cool”! You’re never sure what you’re going to get. Even in this tech savvy world we live in it still seems weird to some people, like it can’t be taken seriously. For instance we can’t say, “Yeah we met at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity or something important sounding like that and to make matters worse it’s a Star Wars game…geeky AND weird!
(There’s more to read below!)
I ended up in his guild, (for you non-gamers that’s a group of like-minded people that share common goals in a game, like taking down the baddest boss (monster) in the game. We started talking some or rather typing and eventually ended up curious about each other’s real names and he miraculously guessed mine on the very first try! I was pretty astounded and he had my attention after that!
I have to say that meeting in this way turned out to be really important in that we got to know each other without any physical distractions. It was just what we typed to one another and nothing else. Our thoughts and our feelings only. This built such an intimacy between us that I never knew could exist. That beginning bonded us in a special way. We knew each other, I mean REALLY knew each other before we ever physically met…not to mention my typing skills improved dramatically! 🙂
We eventually moved on from Star Wars and onto the world of Azeroth (World of Warcraft) where our relationship grew until we finally decided to meet! It had been nearly two years since we’d met online and finally meeting in person was one of the most exciting, thrilling, heart-thumpingly nervous days of my life! Meeting him really “sealed the deal” in my heart and I have never looked back!
Now we get to game side by side instead of over 1000 miles apart and we look forward to “leveling” together offline and on for the rest of our lives!
Happy Valentine’s Day and….May the Force be with You!
- 2 large egg yolks plus 1 large white, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar, divided (2 Tbsp will go in the egg white)
- 3/4 cup cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup mashed or finely chopped strawberries, (I used a food processor)
- 4 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 Tbsp butter at room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1/4 cup mashed strawberries, drained well
- Red food coloring is optional. 3 drops will make cake a pale pink.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray with cooking spray two 6‑inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease and flour parchment or spray again if using cooking spray.
- Using a hand-held mixer set at medium-low speed, beat egg white in a medium bowl until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and beat egg white to soft, billowy mounds, about 1 minute. Gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until glossy, stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed; set aside.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and remaining 6 tablespoons sugar together in second medium bowl.
- In small bowl, whisk buttermilk, melted butter, oil, vanilla, and egg yolks together.
- Using hand-held mixer set at low speed, gradually pour butter mixture into flour mixture and mix until almost combined, 15 to 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl, then beat on medium-low speed until smooth and fully combined, 10 to 15 seconds.
- Stir drained strawberries into batter.
- Using a rubber spatula, stir one-third of whites into batter, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, smooth tops, and gently tap each pan on counter to release air bubbles.
- Bake cakes until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 16 to 18 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking.
- Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Run knife around edge of cakes to loosen. Remove cakes from pans, discarding parchment, and let cool completely on rack, about 1 hour.
- Line edges of cake platter with 4 strips of parchment paper to keep platter clean. Place 1 cake layer on platter. Spread 1/2 cup frosting evenly over top, right to edge of cake. Top with second cake layer, then spread 1/2 cup frosting evenly over top. Spread remaining frosting evenly over sides of cake. Carefully remove parchment strips before serving.
- Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and add the sugar and drained strawberries. Blend on low speed until the sugar is incorporated then raise the speed to medium and mix the frosting another minute or until the frosting lightens and is well combined.
- Cooled cakes can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day. Wrapped tightly in plastic, then aluminum foil, cakes can be frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost cakes at room temperature before unwrapping and frosting.
- Assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- The frosting might seem a little loose at first. I put the frosted cake in the fridge to firm up before serving and it was perfect. Just make sure you don't have a lot of juice left in the berries. If it's very loose just add more powdered sugar, a little at a time, until you get the consistency you like.