Lately I have been trying to stretch my palette as well as my abilities in the kitchen. And often my inspiration comes from delicious food I have the opportunity to enjoy when I dine out and about in Bend or elsewhere. Such was the case when I dined at The French Market a few weeks ago and enjoyed their Ricotta Mousse with Huckleberries.
What I appreciated most about the dish was the lack of unnatural sweetness, but rather allowing the subtle, yet distinct flavor of the huckleberries to shine through as well as the creaminess of the ricotta finished with just a touch of vanilla.
I was determined to figure out how to make this recipe, and upon sharing with my love that I was going to attempt it, he suggested I make my own ricotta as he has quite a bit of experience in the kitchen. Idée parfaite! As he revealed, it is one of the simpler cheeses to make and a good place to start learning how to make cheese. And he was right.
Once I made the ricotta, the rest of the recipe was simple. While huckleberries are no longer in season, I selected fresh Oregon strawberries that are bursting with natural sweetness from the local farmer’s market here in Bend.
In an effort to discern the difference between store-bought ricotta and homemade, I made the recipe with both. What I discovered was while both are delicious, there is depth of flavor to the homemade ricotta that you do not find at the store. No surprises there, non?
So, if you have the time, go ahead and make your own ricotta. It is quite easy, as you will see below and the dessert will be a satiating conclusion to a wonderful meal without all of the extra sugar.
A Simple Summer Dessert: Homemade Ricotta Mousse with Fresh Berries
- 2 quarts (8 total cups - 4 per quart) whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 large sieve
- fine mesh cheese cloth
- 1 cup ricotta (whole milk, homemade is delicious, but store bought works well also)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream cold
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup fresh berries (huckleberries, strawberries, whatever is your favorite) finely dice
- 1/8 cup (approximate) fresh berries for placing at the bottom of each ramekin before placing the mousse on top
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Place a large sieve on top of a medium-size sauce pan or bowl. Line the sieve with cheesecloth.
- In a sauce pan combine whole milk and heavy cream on medium to high heat, and bring to a rolling boil. Stir occasionally to ensure the milk doesn't become scalded.
- When the liquid has come to a rolling boil, add the lemon juice and reduce heat to low to simmer. Stir for 2-3 minutes until the liquid begins to curdle. Remove from the heat.
- Pour liquid through the cheesecloth and the sieve. Let stand to drain for one hour. After that time, remove all the liquid that has been drained and place the cheese remaining in the cheese cloth (ideally in the same bowl, resting in the sieve) into the refrigerator (cover with plastic wrap. You can leave in the refrigerator for 2-4 days. However, you can also get started on your ricotta mousse immediately.
- Purée ricotta in a food processor until smooth (this won't take much time - approximately 5-10 pulses). Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the heavy cream and the sugar. Whisk until soft peaks form (about 3-5 minutes). Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
- In a mixing bowl place the ricotta, gently add with a spatula the 1/3 cup berries. Add the whipped cream mixture in three stages, folding gently into the ricotta mixture each time.
- At the bottom of each ramekin or serving bowl/dish, place 5-7 berries pieces. Then scoop the mousse mixture on top. top with a berry or two to reveal to your guests what is in the dish.
- Place in the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour.