This is an absolute killer of a recipe. It’s perfect for a dinner party or special weekend meal because it tastes divine and looks both appropriately impressive and ridiculously pretty, but is actually very simple to make. It does require a little last minute work, but you can prepare steps 1 to 3 in advance and then spend less than 10 minutes in the kitchen between the main course and pudding.
This recipe comes from Summer Cooking by Elizabeth David, one of the highest members of the royal family of cookery writers. It’s a retro-looking book that’s been sitting on my parents’ shelves for decades, but it’s packed with gorgeous seasonal recipes and this is one of the best. This is barely altered from the book – the only change is that we heat the berries before squeezing the juice from them as it makes it easier to extract the maximum amount.
This is our go-to recipe for a fancy dessert during the summer months when my dad’s allotment provides a glut of redcurrants and raspberries, though the beauty of it is that if you freeze the berries when they’re at their peak you can have a taste of summer all year round. A word of warning before we start: you really want an electric whisk for this recipe. Believe me, it’s extremely hard to achieve the right consistency with a hand whisk; even my mum, who is vehemently against the use of an electric hand whisk, admits it is necessary for this one dish!
Ingredients (serves 2-3 generously)
1 egg white
Crème fraiche, to serve
1. Weigh out the berries, removing the redcurrants from their stalks – the quickest way to do this is to run a fork down the length of the stalk.
2. Warm the berries in a pan until they begin to release their juice and become soft.
3. Sieve the juice from the berries, using the back of a spoon to squish out as much as you can from the seeds and pulp. Stir the sugar into the warm juice.
4. Whisk the egg white until it forms stiff peaks.
5. Put the juice and egg whites into a pan over a low heat and whisk continually for about 5 minutes. The mixture will thicken and rise substantially. Remove from the heat when you have achieved a smooth, fluffy consistency.
6. Serve in small tumblers or wine glasses, topped with red berries and crème fraiche.
The flavour of this mousse is an incredible mixture of sharp and sweet, almost like a berry sherbet, and the texture is as light as air. The warmth is a really unusual element that I’ve never come across in a mousse before and it contrasts beautifully with a dollop of chilled crème fraiche.
If left for too long the mixture splits, leaving a layer of juice at the bottom, however good whisking will ensure this doesn’t happen too quickly. Immediate serving and quick eating will also guarantee avoiding this!…