Vanilla Mousse with Strawberries and Vanilla Sauce

You can decide how plain or rich you want this mousse to be by making it with cream cheese and double cream for extra richness, with sieved and blended cottage cheese and fromage frais for a low-fat version, with curd cheese and thick yoghurt for a medium-fat version or any combination of your choice. The consistency, however arrived at, should be that of thick cream or yoghurt, that is a coating consistency. You need pierced moulds to hold the mixture.

Ingredients

  • 1 pt / 570 ml single cream
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2–3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 leaves gelatine or 2 tsp powdered gelatine
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 lb / 455 g soft cheese (see above)
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¼ pt / 140 ml fruity red wine
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lb / 900 g strawberries

Method

Put the cream in a saucepan with the vanilla pod and 1 tablespoon sugar. Bring to the boil and remove from the heat. Scoop out the vanilla pod, split it open, scrape the seeds into the cream and allow to cool. Meanwhile, let the gelatine soften in the water in a small bowl. When it is soft, drain out half the water and place the bowl in a saucepan of water. Heat until the gelatine has dissolved. Blend the gelatine and a quarter of the vanilla cream with the soft cheese. Put the remaining vanilla cream on one side to serve as a sauce. Whisk the egg whites and fold carefully into the mixture. Line eight small pierced moulds with damp muslin, place them on a tray and spoon in the cheese mixture. Allow to drain and set in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Cover to stop the muslin drying out.

Make a syrup by heating the red wine with the rest of the sugar, the cinnamon and black pepper until the sugar has dissolved. Boil for a few minutes, then allow to cool. Sort the strawberries into three batches, discarding any rotten ones. The softest but still sound ones should be hulled and made into a purée. The larger firm ones should be hulled, sliced and marinated in the red wine syrup, and the small firm ones should be reserved with as much of their stem as possible to serve whole.

To assemble the dish, turn out the mousses on to dessert plates. Pour a little vanilla cream sauce over one side of the plate, and some strawberry coulis on the other. Decorate with fresh strawberries.

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