Friday, August 15, 2008

Unusual Dessert: Beet Mousse with Cardamom


I love my CSA. The abundance of summer vegetables is pure joy to me every week. I get such a thrill of anticipation as I enter the produce barn and discover what I will bring home. My path often crosses Erick the farmer and his wife Wendy. Their smiles, enthusiasm and love of the land are contagious. It is their generosity that comes through in the colorful bounty we receive. This keeps us connected to them, the land and what we feed our families.

Amongst the many delights I get to bring home are sweet, plump lovely beets. Not the beets of my childhood, which came in a bottle labeled Borscht-- No, no, no we are talking the palatable, delectable kind of beets that one would be willing to eat at every meal. The bottle variety, lets face it, is a crime against humanity and thankfully will never show up in the beautiful barn of my CSA. These beets are pure crunchy sugar that can be eaten like an apple, their juice dripping on your chin like some horrible crime scene. My kids get a real kick out of that one. My six-year-old likes to point out that beets are full of blood. I correct him: "close, honey, full of antioxidants". It doesn't matter to him. He won't eat them. His siblings were like him and now they see only the benefits. I make it a mission in life to see how I can get him to eat what he won't eat. I have this philosophy that there is no food that a person doesn't like, it just hasn't been prepared the right way for them yet. So how do I get my little boy to embrace beets? I decided to turn it into a dessert.

I started out by doing some research. Isn't the internet wonderful? I found recipes for beet ice cream, beet chocolate cakes or muffins, and an indian beet halva. When I saw the ice cream recipes, I thought: mousse. When I saw the halva recipes, I thought: mousse. It seemed like a logical conclusion that I would venture into creating a beet mousse dessert, and in honor of the enticing halva recipes I decided that it should paired up with cardamom.

Prep bowl for Beet Mousse

The color alone is reason enough to make this dish. It transports you, envelops you, saturate your every pores with this deep, rich, sunny ocean of passion. That red is like no other, so strong it is purple, so playful it is dull and bright at the same time, so warm and inviting you want to dive into it head-first--or mouth-first in this case. It makes sense that a vegetable that elicits such emotions would be perfectly cloaked as the farewell to a fine meal. This mousse is light and delicate. The dark chocolate cup adds a depth of flavor which enhances the earthy flavor of the beets, the fruitiness of the orange zest and the hint of cardamom. The flavor is so unique and subtle that no one, unless you tell them, will be able to tell what the secret ingredient is. After all, some people have had one too many bowls of bottled Borscht in order to be open minded about having beets in their mousse... Know what I mean?

Close Up Beet Mousse

Beet Mousse with Cardamom (serves 6)
I used agar agar (available in health food stores) instead of gelatin. It does the same thing and I don't have to think about where gelatin came from. If you would rather, feel free to substitute with gelatin according to instructions on package. I used instructions found online for the chocolate cups . Except, I melted Traderjoe's imported dark chocolate instead of Kraft's. Make sure that you paint on a thick layer of chocolate on the walls of the cups or paint multiple layers, this will make it easier for you to remove the papers without breaking them.

1 pound of peeled beets, boiled and cooking water reserved
1 tsp of agar agar
1 1/2 tsp of ground cardamom
1 tablespoon of orange zest
1/4 cup agave nectar or simple syrup
1 cup of heavy cream
6 dark chocolate cups

For the garnish:
1/2 cup of whipping cream
1 tablespoon of agave nectar
1 tablespoon of orange flower water (optional)
Shaved dark chocolate

Transfer cooked beets to a blender. Take 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and put in a small saucepan with the agar agar. Bring to a boil and whisk until well combined. This will take about 5 minutes. Transfer with the beets and blend together until creamy and smooth. Add the cardamom, orange zest and nectar or syrup. Blend a little more. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until mixture has cooled completely ( about 1-2 hours).

In a mixer, whip the heavy cream until strong peaks form. With a spatula, incorporate the beet mixture gently into the cream and refrigerate for 8 hours or more. Fill each cup with the mousse.

Prepare some more whipped cream in a mixer. when peaks form add agave nectar and orange flower water (if using). Garnish each mousse cup with whipped cream and some shaved dark chocolate.

Beet Mousse


marieke said...

Another wonderful creative recipe, and beautiful photos!

Stef said...

That's so beautiful and indeed unique. I love beets!

VeggieGirl said...

What an innovative treat!

Jude said...

Yup, this is definitely appropriately entitled. Very unusual for sure. This is what I like about blogs -- so many interesting and creative recipes!

zlamushka said...

beetroots as a dessert? Wow, I need to learn from you girl :-) I love the color, looks like raspberry mouse to me :-)
I am happy to discover your blog. I came here through Jugalbandi, as I am featuring their blog in this month´s Tried And Tasted, I hope you are participating.

Destiny's Vegan Kitchen said...


Julia said...

Wow, I never knew that beets could be used in a dessert. This looks very interesting. Great photos too!

Lore said...

OMG, these colours are so vivid! And the flavour combo is so novel :) Love them!

Liliana said...

This recipe sure looks interesting and delicious. I haven't developed a taste for beets - probably because they weren't served at home. But I certainly will give this recipe a try!

Beutiful color and great photo!

Alexa said...

Many thanks to everyone for your kind comments! I really appreciate hearing from you all.:-)

bee said...

absolutely breathtaking. and delectable.

Alanna @ A Veggie Venture said...

Stef sent me over here because she knows I'm crazy for beets -- but my goodness, this is truly the most creative application I've EVER seen. Too often, these vegetable-in-dessert recipes are mere novelties, or mere moisture. This seems otherwise! Go girl!

Alexa said...

Thank you!

I had fun with that one... Plus, I found out that beets go great with dark chocolate... Thank you for your kind comment.

ttfn300 said...

I've tried a chocolate beet cake, but this really takes that combination to a whole new level!!

Kitchen Flavours said...

The blushy pink is looking awesome. First time here. You have a yummy blog. I like these muffins a lot.

Lovena Glantz said...

I just did a variation on your beet mousse at a cooking workshop for the Sunset Community Farm CSA members (Lincoln, NE) and we used firm tofu in place of the cream. It was a great success, though not as silky velvet as the pictures on your blog. I really enjoyed using your recipe and appreciate all the things I've read on your site.

Alexa said...

The tofu is a great idea--was it silken? I make a really smooth chocolate cream with firm silken tofu--my family loves it. Now, I'll have to try it with beets.
I really appreciate your kind words of my blog. I hope get back to posting new recipes soon.

Maddie said...

I just made this for the first time and it was a hit with my friends! I was so absorbed by the beautiful red color of the beets that I ended up adding a blood orange reduction to the recipe as well. Tasty stuff!

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