Sunday, July 4, 2010

0 Recipe #131: Star-Spangled Strawberry Mousse Tartlets Decorated with Fresh Seasonal Berries

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As promised, here's another recipe to celebrate the Fourth of July. This one's a unique creation that you're unlikely to find anywhere else. :) Enjoy!

Star-Spangled Strawberry Mousse Tartlets Decorated with Fresh Seasonal Berries

Crust Ingredients:
2 c. hazelnuts, crushed
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. orange juice
2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground clove
1/2 tsp. salt
unbleached, all-purpose flour (for dusting)

Mousse Ingredients:
1 c. cold water
2 packets unflavored (i.e., Knox) gelatin
2. frozen strawberries
1 c. nonfat plain yoghurt
4 Tbsp. honey

Decorative Ingredients:
40 fresh blueberries, or 10 blueberries per tart
20 fresh red raspberries, or 5 red raspberries per tart

Kitchen Equipment & Supplies:
food processor
non-stick rolling pin
nylon/silicone spatula (the kind used for spreading & scraping ingredients)
large pancake turner (also sometimes called a spatula as well)
5" star-shaped cookie cutter mold(s)
1-2 metal baking tray(s)
aluminium foil
wax paper

Directions: To make crust: Pour hazelnuts into a food processor & pulse until finely ground into almost a flour-like consistency (or as close to it as possible!). Add remaining crust ingredients (except for flour!) and continue to pulse until thoroughly combined. Dough should be thick and stick together; do not over-mix or crust will be too hard when baked.

Remove dough, scraping out remaining bits with a spatula. Form a dough ball & then place it upon a clean even surface that's been uniformly floured. (You might want to first cover your countertop with wax paper to make clean-up easier & faster.) Flour a non-stick rolling pin & and roll out the dough ball until it's about 1/4" thick, always starting from the center outward, to form a oblong shape, long & wide enough to cut out 4 star-shapes. Flour inside walls of star-shaped cookie cutter mold(s) & cut out 4 stars. (If you've only got one mold, you'll obviously have to repeat the cookie-cutting process four-times.) You might need to use a knife or your fingers to cut away the excess dough. If you'd like a thicker crust, take the excess dough & press it into the cookie cutter mold(s) until it's uniformly spread across the inside of the mold(s). (Or, alternatively, reserve dough for another recipe or use to make additional star-shaped crusts for more mousse tartlets.)

When you've finished making the shapes, carefully remove the dough from the cookie cutter(s). You may need to press the cookie cutter(s) down as you lift up the mold to extract the dough. Use a large pancake turner to transfer crusts to a large, aluminium foil covered metal baking sheet. (You may need to use 2 baking sheets if the crusts won't fit onto one sheet.) Place baking sheet(s) into an oven preheated to 350°F and bake crusts for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden-brown.

Please note: The tart dough can be made ahead & refrigerated until you're ready to bake the crust.

To make the mousse filling: While crusts are baking, pour 1 c. cold water into a small sauce pot. Add 2 packets of unflavored gelatin & let stand for 1-2 minutes. Heat on medium-high for 2 minutes, until dissolved. Let cool until gelatin is warm but not piping hot, about 2-3 minutes. While gelatin is cooling, add frozen strawberries, yoghurt, (4 Tbsp.) & honey to a blender. Then add gelatin mixture, using a spatula to scrape out residual gelatin from the bottom & sides of the pot. Pulse until smooth & frothy. Pour into a Pyrex glass or metal 9"x13" pan & refrigerate until gelatin mousse has fully set, about 20-30 minutes.

To assemble the dessertsWhen crusts have finished baking, remove them from oven & let them cool. Set aside. When crusts have cooled enough to touch them, peel them off of foil & using a large pancake turner, transfer to plates.

Remove mousse from fridge and use cookie cutter to cut out 4 star-shapes. After you've pressed down to cut out the shapes, you might need to wiggle the mold back & forth a bit to create a delineated negative space, so that a spatula can fit underneath. :)

Using a spatula, carefully lift each star shape, one at a time, & transfer to corresponding star crusts. Try to line up each star shape so that it lays directly on top of crust. Using a knife scrape away any excess gelatin from sides.

Gently wash berries and thoroughly pat dry. It's very important that the berries be completely dry before you transfer them to the mousse, or else they'll slip right off.  Trust me, this knowledge was gained through previous experience. :) Decorate each tart with berries as shown in above photo, or feel free to create your own design.  Serve immediately.

Yield: Serves 4. (Makes 4 individual portions/tartlets.)

Chef's Notes: Don't worry if you're unable to cut out exactly 4 shapes from the mousse. I could only cut out 3 complete shapes without overlapping the cookie-cutter cut-outs. Just take the remaining mousse, purée once more in the blender, & then allow the mixture to set for another 20-30 minutes.

The other alternative is to use slightly smaller star-shaped cookie cutter molds to cut out the crusts & mousse. Of course, you won't need to use as many berries. Also, please be aware that this will probably make it slightly more challenging when it comes time to decorate them with fruit. :)

Any excess mousse &/or crust dough can be either used to make additional tartlets or reserved for other dessert ideas. The strawberry mousse tastes really good served on its own or with a dollop of light whipped cream on top.

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