I tried my hand at mousse for the first time this Easter, making Fresh Strawberry Mousse from Cook’s Illustrated. It came together easily and the result was divine. It gave me the idea to turn a cheese plate on its head, with tasty results. This would make a lovely starter or a slightly savory dessert.
6 as a starter or dessert
walnut halves and pieces, divided
1 1/2 ounces
(about 1/4 cup) Stilton blue cheese
2 1/2 cups
heavy cream, divided
1 3/4 teaspoons
cream cheese, cut into pieces at room temperature
pinch of kosher salt
macadamia nut honey, divided, plus more for drizzling if desired Use whatever local variety you have that is rich and slightly nutty
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On a small baking pan, toast walnuts in a single layer until fragrant and golden. This should take between 8-10 minutes but start checking after 7. Let walnuts cool completely. Chop 1/4 cup of walnuts and transfer into a glass container with a lid.
Combine remaining 3/4 cup toasted walnuts and Stilton in a mini-prep processor or similar device. Pulse until walnut pieces are thoroughly blitzed, scraping down sides with a small spatula as necessary to keep mixture moving.
In a small (2 1/2 quart) heavy saucepan, combine 2 cups cream and cheese/walnut mixture. Using a whisk, gently break apart cheese and walnuts, stirring it into the cream. Sprinkle gelatin over cream, and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate remaining 1/2 cup cream in a glass covered with plastic wrap.
Slowly heat the cream mixture, whisking, until gelatin dissolves completely, 3-5 minutes. Turn heat up slightly, just until mixture begins to steam. Add cream cheese, 1 T honey and pinch of salt, whisking until cream cheese dissolves. Cover pot, remove from heat and allow mixture to steep for 15 minutes.
Strain cream mixture through a sieve into a medium bowl, pressing down on nut solids. Discard solids.
In a large metal bowl, whip chilled cream with a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 2 T honey and whip until peaks are medium-stiff, for 1-2 minutes more. Fold honey whipped cream into walnut and Stilton mixture until no streaks remain. Portion into small ramekins, about 2-3 ounces per. Cover each with plastic wrap (it saves time to cut these ahead of time) and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Top each portion with reserved toasted walnuts before serving. You can also drizzle a bit of honey on top if desired. Enjoy!
My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love.
Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.