Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ricotta Mousse with Strawberries

People want simple and delicious foods. They don't want to work too hard, but when they take a bite they want to feel like they did. Give the people what they want. The people want eight-minute desserts. They want cute polka dot place settings that match their desserts.

Ricotta over there in the dairy case? It is not some strange cross between the cousins cheese and milk. It has the best of both worlds: creamy and mild like milk or cream, but with a more substantial presence, like a cream cheese, quark or creme fraiche. It can go both ways, savory or sweet. As I am likely to do when given the option, I chose sweet (Savory, you had your turn with the broccoli rabe).

This ricotta mousse I have for you right here is fantastic. MAKE THIS. Make this now. Don't wait. It feels more decadent than a lot of things I've had lately (until I tell you about the butterscotch pudding I made, but that involved things like a stove and a whisk and many many more dirty dishes than this beautiful thing before you). Make dinner feel extra fancy tonight by taking approximately eight, yes eight minutes with your hand mixer.

You can get it done this morning before work. Let the flavors get to know each other while you're busy making that money. The ricotta is light and somehow still incredibly rich. You'll feel like a rock star when you figure out how easy it is-about ten minutes hands-on time. Honestly.

Ricotta Mousse with Strawberries

You need:
1 pound whole-milk ricotta
8 oz mascarpone
2/3 c sugar
1/4 cup (2 fl oz) rum or brandy (I used spiced rum)
1 c heavy cream
1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered lengthwise for looks (or any other berry you can find that is decent this time of year, good luck)
2 tbsp confectioner's sugar
1 tsp white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
fresh mint leaves for garnish (I left them out because I have a thing for monochromatic images)

If your ricotta is throwing off liquid, which is probably is if it is very fresh, spoon it into a colander or cheesecloth and suspend it over a bowl. Cover, leaving it to drain in the fridge until it is dry, up to 24h. For a smoother texture, remove it once it is strained and force it through a coarse mesh sieve over a bowl. If you prefer a more rustic texture (or you're just lazy like me), use it as is.

In a large bowl, combine ricotta, mascarpone, granulated sugar, and rum. Using a spoon or spatula, mix until well blended.

In another bowl, using a whisk or handheld mixer on med-high speed, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Using a spatula and a light hand, fold the whipped cream into the the ricotta mixture until blended.

Have ready 6 1-cup bowls or goblets. Spoon ricotta mixture into bowls, dividing evenly. Cover; refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 24 to let the flavors meld.

About 1h before serving, place the strawberries in a bowl, stir in confectioner's sugar, and refrigerate until serving.

To serve, stir vinegar into strawberries. Top each serving with the berries and their juices. Garnish with mint leaves, serve immediately.

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