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Well, November is upon us. Which means it is officially ok to start obsessing over cozy fires, bourbon cocktails, wool sweaters, and Tony Bennett. And it’s perfectly acceptable (encouraged, really) to start dreaming up holiday menus (or, you know, just fantasizing about all the things you want to eat).

My favourite thing is having friends over for cozy dinners on these dark nights leading up to the holidays. With the glow of wine and candlelight, sigh. Feeding people in my home totally fills my heart, especially this time of year. (Who’s coming over?)

In eager anticipation of the holidays, I’ve teamed up with Driscoll’s berries to bring you this beautiful festive dessert. It is an airy, creamy, raspberry mousse smoothed over a buttery, crumbly graham cracker crust, scattered with fresh berries and chilled. In other words, divine.

There’s nothing I love more than something that’s a feast for the eyes as much as for the tummy. I love the look of haphazardly-drizzled raspberry sauce topped with beautiful, fresh berries and strewn with a handful of pomegranate seeds. So many textures. So many layers of cheerful red. So perfectly imperfect. Doesn’t it look like a painting?

And if you need extra persuading (I hope that’s not the case!), berries might just add an extra spark of joy to an already joyous time of year.

Consumer research recently identified that berries create more happy and positive emotions than any other fruit or vegetable. So basically adding berries = adding happiness. I can’t say I’m surprised. Just try to convince me this raspberry mousse wouldn’t make you happy!

Some people are intimidated by gelatin, probably because it’s not all that commonly used. But friends, it is super easy.  It is a simple two-step process: first soften the granules in water (they’ll thicken up to an applesauce-like consistency) and then dissolve in a hot liquid.  It sets as it chills. Easy peasy.

(Last year I made this moussey gelatin-based Christmas dessert and it was heavenly.)

Driscoll’s is the leading provider of fresh and organic berries. They work with independent farmers in different growing regions to bring us those beautiful, sweet rasberries pictured above all year long. I’ve mentioned a bit about the brand before here and here. (Actually, pistachios, white chocolate mousse?! Both of those recipes would actually be perfect Christmas desserts, too!)

To make the mousse, you start with fresh raspberries pureed in a blender to make a smooth sauce. You bring the berry puree to a simmer with sugar, then add the softened gelatin and stir until dissolved.  Cool a bit, then fold in whipped cream.  After setting in the fridge, it sets to an airy texture that is firm enough to slice cleanly.

Top with more berries (I mashed some into a coarse sauce, and left some more whole) and finish with a bit of confectioners’ sugar for a snow-dusted look, if you like.

The holidays are (obviously) all about the food for me. But as much as you know I have a serious sweet tooth, after finishing a heavy holiday meal, I usually have no room or desire for a rich dessert.

Which is why I love this one so much – beautiful, fresh, and light. I mean, you might not think it’s “light” given the whipped cream, but actually it works out to only a couple of tablespoons per serving – the rest is berry sauce. It’s like eating a soft, pillowy raspberry cloud.

 

Raspberry Mousse Squares

Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Servings 16 squares
Dessert
American

Ingredients
  

For crust

  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

For mousse

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • 2 1/2 tsp gelatin
  • 3 6- oz packages 1 1/4 cups each Driscoll's raspberries
  • 2/3 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 cups whipping cream

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Line a 9"x2" square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides, then combine all crust ingredients right in the lined pan. Use your hands to press the mixture together until evenly moistened (it will resemble wet sand), then firmly press it down evenly into the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until a shade darker and smelling fragrant, then cool on a wire rack.
  • Combine lemon juice and water in a small dish, and sprinkle gelatin over top to soften for a minute (it will resemble the consistency of applesauce).
  • Puree 2 packages (2 1/2 cups) of the raspberries in blender until smooth. Force puree through a fine-mesh sieve with a stiff spatula into a small saucepan to remove most of the seeds (if you have a good, high-powered blender, you can skip this step - mine blends the seeds completely).
  • Add sugar to the raspberry puree and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Reduce to low and stir in gelatin mixture. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 full minute, to ensure gelatin is completely dissolved. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Whip the cream to firm peaks in a standing mixer, or with hand-held beaters. Fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the raspberry mixture first to lighten it, then gently fold in the rest using a light hand until completely blended. Refrigerate for 2 hours until set (or longer - it'll still be fine, but the gelatin firms more over time. Best on the day it's made).
  • Meanwhile, make berry sauce for topping: sprinkle 1 tbsp granulated sugar over 1/2 remaining package (a heaping half-cup) of raspberries in a small bowl; let stand 15 minutes then mash with a fork.
  • When dessert has set, drizzle with sauce then top with remaining 1/2 package (another heaping half-cup) of raspberries and a handful of pomegranate arils, if desired.  Slice into 16 squares, rinsing knife with hot water between slices for clean cuts.
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