Don’t get me wrong – I looooooove chocolate mousse. I’m not even going to go into that right now, that’s another story for another time. But, for the sake of variety, this strawberry mousse is another wonderful dessert option. It is fresh, light, fruity and not only is it delicious, it’s the perfect color for Valentine’s day! Don’t be scared of the ricotta in the mix. It is a healthier option for keeping the mousse creamy instead using heavy cream or something similar. I think it helped mellow out the sweetness a bit, but I couldn’t pick out the flavor on its own (I was definitely skeptical about this before trying it.) And because I don’t think you can ever have too much strawberry, I have edited the recipe below to include chunks of fresh berries folded into the mousse before chilling and serving. I didn’t do that this time around, but I definitely will next time because I think it will really take the berry flavor to the next level.
2 cups whole strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2½ tbsp. water
1¼ tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1/3 cup egg whites
Pinch of salt
¼ cup sugar
1-1½ cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and chopped
Additional fresh whole strawberries, for garnish
Add the 2 cups whole strawberries to a blender or food processor. Puree until well blended and smooth. Transfer the puree to a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until the puree has reduced, about 5-8 minutes. Strain the heated puree through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Measure out ¾ cup of the strained puree. Stir in the lemon juice, cover, and chill in the refrigerator to at least room temperature.
Place the water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and set aside to let the gelatin soften, at least 5 minutes.
Return the strawberry puree to the blender or food processor along with the ricotta. Heat the water-gelatin mixture in the microwave for 15 seconds, and stir to dissolve the gelatin. Add the mixture to the strawberry puree. Blend the mixture for 1 minute, until completely smooth and well combined, scraping down the sides as necessary. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.
In a heatproof bowl (I use my mixer bowl to dirty one less dish) set over a pot of simmering water, whisk together the egg whites, salt, and sugar. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it reaches 160˚ F on an instant-read thermometer and the sugar has dissolved.
Transfer the egg white mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form and the bowl is no longer warm. Add one third of the beaten egg whites to the strawberry mixture. Fold in gently to lighten. Add the rest of the beaten egg whites and fold in gently until well incorporated and no streaks remain. Fold in the chopped fresh strawberries. Divide the mixture evenly between serving dishes. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour. Garnish with fresh strawberries before serving.