I’ve never eaten as many strawberries as I have this year. They’re a staple at breakfast, and we’ve been devouring our way through dozens of baskets since late June. Here in Quebec, the height of the strawberry season in early July, but in late August come the “Fall strawberries”, which many consider even more flavorful, sweeter and juicy than their earlier counterparts. It is indeed the case this year, and I’ve been trying as many strawberry-based recipes as possible to make the most of the ruby-red fruit post-breakfast.
I like to enjoy strawberries fresh as opposed to cooked or baked to preserve their juicy nature and delicate texture. This verrine balances the sweetness of the berries with the tanginess of citrus in a flavor combination that can best be described as heavenly. The mousse is airy, not stuffy or heavy, and the maceration process turns the strawberries into flavor bombs. I like to enjoy this mousse with butter cookies, which should generously be dipped in the delicious concoction.
Makes 8 to 10 small verrines.
For the Citrus Mousse
6 large eggs
1 cup [250 ml] granulated sugar
½ tsp [2.5 ml] salt
¾ cup [180 ml] freshly squeezed juice from lemons and limes (I use 2/3 lemon for 1/3 lime, but feel free to play around with the proportions)
Finely grated zest from all the lemons and limes used (grate the zest before squeezing the juice, it’s much easier)
¾ cup [180 ml] heavy cream
1 tsp [5 ml] pure vanilla extract
For the Macerated Strawberries
1 lb [454 g] fresh strawberries, washed, dried and thinly sliced
¼ cup [60 ml] sugar
1 tbsp [15 ml] orange-flavored liqueur (such as Grand Marnier)
1 tsp [5 ml] fresh mint leaves, very finely chopped
To make the mousse: In a non-reactive saucepan, which together 3 eggs, 3 yolks (reserving the 3 remaining whites in a small bowl), ¾ cup [180 ml] sugar, salt, citrus juice and zest. Cook over medium heat while stirring constantly until the mixture thickens like pudding, about 10 minutes.
Pass the citrus curd through a fine mesh strainer into a large mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it’s cool. (The curd can be made up to 2 days ahead).
To make the strawberries: Mix the berries, sugar, liqueur and mint in a bowl. Let the berries sit for at least 30 minutes so they release some of their juices.
To assemble the verrines: Whip the egg whites and remaining ¼ cup [60 ml] sugar until stiff peaks form.
Add a third of the whipped egg whites to the chilled citrus curd and mix to lighten the texture of the curd. Gently fold the remaining egg whites in.
Whip the heavy cream with the vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the citrus mousse. Fold until the cream is smoothly incorporated.
Divide the macerated strawberries between the verrines, saving about ½ cup [125 ml] to top each portion. Fill the verrines with citrus mousse, top with the remaining strawberries and top with fresh mint leaves, if desired. Serve immediately or chill until service.
Recipe Credit: Adapted from Zoë François.
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