Strawberries, Figs and Pears . . . Oh My!

Now that I’ve taken more than a month off from blogging, I better get back to posting wouldn’t you say?

My latest adventure in the kitchen is short and very sweet! My local store is featuring fresh organic figs and while I don’t eat figs very often, I was drawn to these with dessert in mind. I thought of pairing them with pears (forgive the clumsy quip) from my backyard tree. My pears were ripe and tender which was perfect with the figs. I have some wonderful “Cafe Espresso” Balsamic Vinegar in my refrigerator. Throw in a few bright strawberries and add a touch of mint and there you have a late summer dessert that will satisfy any sweet tooth.

Figs are pretty amazing looking, aren't they?

Figs are pretty amazing looking, aren’t they?

 

Figs and Pears with Savory Balsamic Sauce (one serving)

  • A half-dozen fresh, ripe organic figs
  • 1 organic pear
  • A few strawberries
  • 1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar (You can add instant espresso powder for the “cafe” flavor, but I have seen espresso balsamic in several stores lately. Look in the gourmet section.)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of organic barley malt
  • pinch of sea salt
  • a dash of triple sec
  • Mint leaves

Wash the fruit thoroughly. Core the pears and slice anyway you want. Halve the figs and the strawberries.

In this combination, you want to adjust the fruits so they are pleasant and easy to eat together.  If your pears are very crisp, you can blanch them for just a few seconds in salted boiling water.  This has to be really really fast because you don’t want mushy fruit compote. You just want to take the edge off the crisp pears so they can be easily eaten in this dessert without losing the contrast between the softer fruit and the crisp pear.

In a small saucepan, bring your dark balsamic vinegar, barley malt and sea salt to a simmer and reduce the sauce to the desired thickness. Watch that you don’t over-boil the barley malt. If it gets very hot and boiled it will turn into a soft and then a hard candy texture.  Just simmer.

Assemble the fruit in bowls and put the sauce on them just before serving. Garnish with mint leaves.

Sweet as sweet can be!

Taming this fruit and sauce for photos was certainly a challenge!

Taming this fruit and sauce for photos was certainly a challenge!

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Pumpkin Swirl Dark Chocolate Mousse

October has had it’s own lovely messages telling us the autumn season is in full swing. October shows us wonderful changes everywhere—not just in the trees and not just colorful hues. Sometimes October shows us fluffiness!

FLUFFY PLANT

Around here, October shows us floatiness, too! Being outside in the crisp fall air is conducive to dropping in and saying “Hello” to folks!

BALLOON UP CLOSE 2

October brings us orange things too.

BITTERSWEETPAINT

And Halloweeny things.

HALLOWEEN TREES

And harvesty things.

free_plenty_of_pumpkins_wallpaper-426951-1286854509

You see where I’m going here? These are just the inspiration I need for October edition of Mousse!

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE SWIRL MOUSSE

Pumpkin Swirl Dark Chocolate Mousse – Serves 8

This is incredibly simple to make! Start off with a batch of tofu-based dark chocolate mousse:

  • 12 ounces silken tofu
  • 2/3 cup 100% cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup pitted Medjool dates
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk or more, as needed, for desired thickness

Blend it all up and put it in the refrigerator in a covered container. Then blend up the pumpkin part.

  • 15 oz pumpkin puree
  • 12 ounces silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca flour

Watch those spices! They can easily be too much. Taste and adjust and be sure to refrigerate this mousse for at least half an hour in a covered container. You will find that the cinnamon and pumpkin pie spices need some time to blend themselves in and become “one” with the mousse. Then you can play with the two mousses any way you want!

Results:  I liked the pumpkin mousse but only after it sat overnight in the refrigerator, When it was just freshly made, the spices overwhelmed the pumpkin flavor.

Hubbin’ — not feeling the pumpkin love.

Neither of us liked our first serving which had about equal amounts of dark chocolate and pumpkin.

I put the next serving together with a little dark chocolate mousse in the bottom of the dish, then the pumpkin and then a small swirl of the chocolate on top. Much better! I decided on a garnish of chopped roasted, salted pistachio nuts. Skin them so you get the green color.

At this rate, my pumpkin will be gone before the dark chocolate mousse is used up, That’ll be just fine for my Hubbin’! In fact, I’d be very happy with just the pumpkin mousse which is far lighter.

Coconut Banana Chocolate Mousse Pie

This month I am stepping out with my dark chocolate mousse madness!  I have tried nearly every basic chocolate mousse recipe (I still have one more up my sleeve) and now I’m going to use what I’ve learned to incorporate dark chocolate mousse into some more desserts —-  All Vegan and No Sugar.

To start off, I’m going to take July’s avocado-based mousse and change it up a bit. That mousse was very good but not very sweet and though I did put it into a pie crust, it really begged for a sweeter, more complex crust so here it is!

BANANA COCONUT CHOCOLATE MOUSSE PIE 001

Coconut Banana Chocolate Mousse Pie

Make the crust

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
  • 4 tablespoons almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 pinches of sea salt
  • stevia powder to taste (about a 1 teaspoon if you’re using something like Truvia.)

This crust could be done with just ground nuts and dried fruit plus the cinnamon and seasonings.  A mixture like that can be put into a food processor and then pressed into the pie plate to make a no-bake pie crust.

Pulse the nuts in your food processor until they are finely ground up but not so much that they turn into a nut butter. Add the dried raisins next. Any dried fruit could be used here. Pulse the raisins or bits of other dried fruit with  the stevia, salt and cinnamon and when it glops up, stop. Pour this glop into a bowl and add the almond flour. Blend the almond milk and the shredded coconut together and mix that in also. Once the mixture is pressed into place in the pie plate, bake it at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes to get excess moisture out of the crust.  When done, the hot crust will not be totally hard or crispy.

This method yields a different texture of crust that is slightly chewy.  Cool the crust completely on a rack if you have one. You want to cool the crust without putting it into the refrigerator.

Make the banana dark chocolate mousse filling

  • pulp from two avocados
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup 100% cacao powder
  • pinch of salt
  • a few drops of liquid stevia (optional)
  • coconut milk as needed to get the desired texture and density

Put everything into a food processor or blender and puree it until it is thick and smooth. What you may run into with this is that the cacao powder makes the mixture very thick and possibly too dense to blend it well. That is why you’ll want some coconut milk or other non-dairy liquid to loosen the mousse up enough to blend it. I probably added about 1/4 cup—a little at a time—but I don’t measure. I also used a spatula to help keep the mixture moving in the processor.

Pour the mousse into the pie crust and spread it evenly. Lick the spatula and sprinkle some extra coconut flakes on top of the pie.

This version of the avocado-based mousse was a little sweeter than the last because of the banana and the combination of the crust with the mousse was much more satisfying than the one I made in July!