Strawberries are everywhere around the markets here in Delhi and we have been enjoying them mostly by themselves or tossed with salads. The greedy person that I am, I end up buying things in bulk if I see them fresh, more so with strawberries as we never get as fresh strawberries as Pune or Bombay here in Delhi. Finding fresh and succulent strawberries is always a pleasure and making jams or preserves with them is even more so. I am yet to freeze strawberries owing to limited freezer space that I have but preserving them with vanilla, lemon zest or balsamic vinegar seems more convenient as I use the preserves more for the other quick recipes I do.
The husband loves a generous spoonful of vanilla strawberry preserve in his breakfast porridge along with chopped banana sometimes and I love mixing a spoonful in my yogurt if I want a dessert after lunch.
The lemon zest strawberry preserve is used for the smoothies and I have already stashed away a huge jar of this lemony goodness for the summers. The strawberry preserve comes handy in many ways while making beverages and desserts, mix it, whip it, juice it along or blend in.
This strawberry vanilla preserve is easy to make. You can make it with less sugar and keep refrigerated for about 2 months, or preserve using enough sugar if you want to store at room temperature.
To make this preserve, chop 400 gm strawberries in small bits, discarding the green crown and cook with a cup of water and 100 gm sugar. This much sugar is enough to make it sweet enough for desserts and smoothies, if you want to preserve the jam you might want to use 200-250 gm sugar and let the jam cook till it starts getting bubbles and the surface looks shiny. One pod of vanilla is added after splitting it and scraping the seeds while cooking the jam if you want Vanilla strawberry jam. A tsp of fresh lemon zest to be added of you want a lemon and strawberry jam.
Things will be a bit more precise when you want a nicely set jam that stay well at room temperature. Sugar definitely preserves it and strawberries have enough pectin to make a set jam. If you want to be sure you can add seeds of an orange tied in muslin or in a strainer like this to the cooking mixture. You can do a test whether the jam sets nicely by dropping a little jam on a plate and keeping it in freezer for a minute. If the jam sets like jelly, it's ready else it needs a bit more cooking. The jam will be tasty even if it doesn't set so feel free to experiment.
Now about the strawberry vanilla mousse with quark cheese and white chocolate. Quark cheese and Greek yogurt are almost similar in taste, quark cheese can be made low fat if required. Quark cheese is nothing but cultured yogurt which is hung to separate the whey and the yogurt solids make nice and creamy quark cheese. One can use hung curd instead.
(makes 10-12 servings)
quark cheese or fresh home made hung curd 500 gm
low fat fresh cream (Amul 25%) 200 gm
strawberry vanilla preserve 250 ml
chopped strawberries fresh 100 gm
good quality white chocolate chopped or chips 100 gm
mint leaves for garnish
vanilla sugar if required 2-3 tbsp (powder 250 gm granulated sugar with a pod of vanilla to make vanilla sugar)
Whip the quark cheese and fresh cream till smooth. Add the strawberry preserve and whip smooth again. Add vanilla sugar of required.
Add the chopped white chocolate and fold lightly, save some chopped white chocolate for garnish. Fold the chopped strawberries too if you wish. Refrigerate to chill for 3-4 hours.
I prefer layering it while serving in bowls of glasses or glass teacups. I used some more strawberry preserve to layer in this case too.
This dessert is easy to assemble if you have prepared vanilla preserve. The quark cheese need some time too but you can always plan it ahead and make some quark or hung curd a day ahead and assemble this mousse right at the time of serving. This is a much loved mousse at my place and I make many versions of it. One with Kiwi fruit another with Jamun when my backyard is strewn with soft ripe jamuns and one with even ripe cubed mangoes. The fruit needs to be treated differently in each case but you can play around with just any fruit for such luscious easy dessert.
The loving kids of my friend love this mousse so much I try and make it for them whenever possible. I have iced cakes with this mousse for them and they just lap it up every single time. Making everyone happy with a dessert they love is so easy. Especially when the dessert is healthy too.
Homemade desserts from scratch are doable, lovable and gorgeous to look at. I couldn't click pictures of the whole batch this time too as I had to take it to my friend's place. I kept one cup of the mousse back home so I can get a few pictures to share. The rest was polished off almost instantly.