Valentine Dessert Idea: Strawberry and Pistachio Mousse Cake with Red Berry Gelée

I'm going to begin this post with the weather forecast, just because I'm too excited over it :). While the rest of the country is covered with deep snow, even ice, when Texas is snowing, when midwest is hit with very cold temperature and storm, when everywhere in radio or TV talks about how to stay warm and all, here is low 70F in CA! Spring arrived a bit early this year, not that I'm complaining, in fact, I'm way too excited! It's usually raining the whole time in January and February and very cold, while we had our share of rain in December or early January, we're having sunshine ever since! For the first time since last Summer, I opened my window in the afternoon, I worked in the garden a little bit, I even wear shorts last night because it was too warm in my room! I'm planning to wear a cotton dress today too!

Last Friday night, when I was heading out from work at around 9:30pm (yes, this has become regular, even 11pm :() to grab some dinner with coworker, I managed to give him a slight heart attack I think. I saw the plum blossom (or cherry blossom) tree in the parking lot and they're blooming! I immediately squealed out of joy, I think he gave me this you're-a-weird-woman type of stare, he must have thought I'm some kind of a mad woman probably. If you know me, I wait for this time to arrive each year, just to see the cherry tree blossoming, covered with beautiful pink/white little flowers. It is not fully bloomed yet, but it made it looks more exotic and zen that way :). I think if I were by myself and out in the day, I would have picked a few branches to preserve it at home, take a gazillion picture of it, decorate cake with it, and stare until the flowers felt creep-ed out by me (if it's even possible). Yes, I love cherry blossom that much! Each year when it's blossoming, I always manage to make some fondant cake and decorate with cherry blossom theme here and here, both for my brother's bday. He did complain why does he always get this girly cake on his birthday, but hey the baker gets all the power to decide how she wants to decorate it, right? It was always raining in the previous years and it was always late in the season by the time I have time to make cake, so I haven't been able to decorate with real flowers in the past, but hopefully I will this year.

Now that I got that out of my head, let's go to the real post. I am not much of a Valentine type of girl, well maybe not yet, but when the rest of the world gets excited over the most romantic day of the year, I just have to participate. Besides, I am such a sucker for any pink/red type of dessert (naturally colored is preferred) and who needs a reason to make a pretty pink cake anyway?

I received an email from California Strawberry a while ago, informing me that they are hosting a "Romantic Recipe Contest" for Valentine's day that would showcase strawberries and asking me if I would like to participate. My immediate first thought was "absolutely!". First, it's an excuse for me to go all the way (or almost all the way) and be creative; Second, it's a contest. Although I wouldn't say that I'm a highly competitive person, but when I am in a competition, who wouldn't want to try hard to win? Third, it's strawberries, which means pink. Enough reasons.

Sure enough, my mind was full of different ideas for this, all sorts of combination, texture, and decorating ideas are floating around my brain and I just had to put in in a spreadsheet (can't live without spreadsheet) so that I can keep track. From the easy desserts to the most complicated desserts, it seems like the longer I think, the more headache I get, but I finally nailed it down to one, strawberry and pistachio. This combination of flavor is one of the classics and it makes a really nice couple, you can see this combo all around Pierre Herme's and Laduree's creations too just to name a few. To show the different layering of the dessert, I made it into a square shape; and since it's not a Valentine without anything heart-shaped, I also made heart-shaped pink macarons to go along with the cake. There are quite a few components of the dessert including pistachio joconde, red berry gelée (from raspberry and strawberry), pistachio bavarois, strawberry mousse, and also the pink heart macaron, but dividing it into few days will make it a lot easier to execute. I made a slight mistake calculating the time needed for each layer, which resulted the red berry gelée not having enough time to properly chill. You can see that the layering of that is not perfect, which bothers me, but I'll make it right next time :)

I submitted my photo and recipe just one day before the due date, and there are lots of gorgeous entries already! You can check them out at their fan page. The winner hasn't been announced yet but even if I don't win anything, I would still be grateful for the opportunity to participate. Without the contest, I wouldn't have any excuse for myself to make anything Valentine, of course winning is not so bad either :).

Valentine's day is a week away and even though I will be gone somewhere out there in the snow going snowshoeing in Yosemite (possibly meet a bear or two) on the Valentine's day weekend, I'm hoping I can make at least another Valentine dessert this week, an easier one I hope, if I can juggle between a birthday cake, snack for the trip, and more :)

Pistachio and Strawberry Mousse Cake

Pistachio joconde:
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 75 g almond powder
  • 75 g confectioners' sugar
  • 30 g pistachio paste
  • 20 g flour
  • 70 g egg whites
  • 20 g granulated sugar
  • 15 g melted butter
  • Preheat the oven to 400 F
  • Combine the eggs, almond powder, confectioners' sugar, and pistachio paste in a mixer bowl.
  • Beat the mixture for about 10 minutes until it's thick
  • In another bowl, beat the egg whites and granulated sugar until it forms a soft peak, set aside.
  • Sift the flour into the almond mixture and fold well.
  • Add a little bit of the meringue to the almond mixture, fold lightly.
  • Add the melted butter, fold.
  • Finally, add the rest of the meringue in two addition and fold carefully until it is well-combined
  • Divide the batter into two 8" square pan, it'll be thin
  • Bake the cake for about 10 minutes or until the top is slightly brown

Red Berry Jelly
  • 50 g strawberry puree
  • 50 g raspberry puree
  • 75 g sugar (adjust depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
  • 1 tsp. gelatin (bloomed with 1 Tbs. water)
  • Combine the two red berry puree and sugar in a small saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil
  • Melt the gelatin in a microwave for a few seconds, then add it into the puree.

Let cool slightly and pour into 8" square cake ring that has been lined with plastic wrap (for easier removal
Pistachio Bavarian Cream:
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 30 g sugar
  • 20 g pistachio paste
  • 80 g milk
  • 1/8 vanilla bean seeds (or used vanilla pods)
  • 3/4 tsp. gelatin powder (bloomed with about 1 Tbs. of water)
  • 90 g heavy cream
  • Bring the milk and the vanilla bean to a gentle simmer in a small saucepan.
  • Meanwhile, whisk the yolk, sugar, and pistachio paste until thick and pale
  • When the milk is ready, temper the yolk mixture by pouring a little of the milk into the yolk, mix well.
  • Add the rest of the milk in a steady stream while whisking it.
  • Pour the mixture back in a saucepan and put it back on the stove under low heat
  • Bring the mixture to about 82 C, stirring constantly (or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon)
  • Melt the gelatin in a microwave for a few seconds (5-10 seconds), then add it into the milk mixture
  • Run it through a strainer to remove lumps, if any
  • Let cool to room temperature (use icebath to speed up the process)
  • In the meantime, whip the heavy cream until soft peak.
  • When the milk is no longer warm, fold the two together.
  • Pour the mixture on top of the frozen red berry jelly (still in a cake ring), and put it back in the freezer

Strawberry Mousse
  • 325 g strawberry puree
  • 130 g sugar (adjust depending on the sweetness of the strawberry)
  • 1.75 tsp. gelatin (bloomed with approximately 2 Tbs. of water)
  • 240 g heavy cream
  • 25 g granulated sugar

  • Bring the strawberry puree and the sugar to a boil
  • Melt the gelatin in a microwave, and add it to the hot puree
  • Remove from heat and let cool (use icebath to speed up the process)
  • Meanwhile, whip the cream and the sugar until it forms a soft peak.
  • When the strawberry puree is no longer warm, fold the puree with the cream
  • Use immediately
To Assemble:
Grand Marnier/Kirsch/Framboise eau-de-vie/any alcohol of your choice (fruit flavored is preferred) 8” square cake ring with 1.75”-2” high
  • Put one layer of pistachio joconde in the bottom of an 8” square cake ring
  • Moistened with enough alcohol (you can also mix the alcohol with simple syrup if you want). Don’t over-soak it as you don’t want the cake to taste like alcohol
  • Spread a thin layer of strawberry mousse on top of the joconde, then put the frozen pistachio cream/red berry jelly on top with the pistachio cream on top.
  • Spread another thin layer of strawberry mousse on top
  • Layer the other pistachio joconde, brush with alcohol
  • Pour the remaining strawberry mousse, and level the top with a metal spatula
  • Put the whole thing (with the cake ring intact) in a freezer and leave it overnight
  • When it’s completely frozen, warm the cake ring either with a blow dryer or a torch and remove the ring from the cake
  • With a hot knife, cut the cake into rectangles, wiping the knife before another cut.
  • Decorate

  • Red berry jelly
  • Pink heart macaron
  • Halved pistachio pieces
  • Fresh strawberry

Accompaniment: Champagne

My entry came in 2nd place, yay!


Nada said...

Gorgeous! I love strawberries. nice idea!

ContessaLaville said...

I almost fell off my chair reading this post. This looks really drool worthy...

ContessaLaville said...

I almost fell off my chair reading this post. This looks really drool worthy...

mushitza said...

I have the same problem with the layering, but whatever. If you fix it, please share the know how :)Your cake looks amazing!

. said...

what an adorable valentine's dessert! You should make heart-shaped individual pizzas for the main course! lol :P

Zoe said...

So pretty in pink! Everything is so neatly and nicely crafted. very impressive!

Swee San said...

heart shaped macarons. how clever!!

Claudie said...

BRILLIANT! I love it -- so beautiful! I think I know exactly what to make for next Monday for my hubby now...

Vicky said...

Ber, cakep banget warnanyaaa and for sure rasanya even better! :)

Bertha said...

Thanks everyone! Appreciate the comments :)

Mushitza: I just needed to freeze it a little longer before layering it with the pistachio bavarois, I didn't have enough time so I just had to go with it anyway :)

michele said...

i love all your pictures! what kind of camera do you use?

Anonymous said...

U are a shoo - in winner with this beautiful entry. Good luckk!! :)

Unknown said...

Oh wow! That dessert looks truly amazing. And for someone who didn't want to do much, this is probably the best v day treat I've seen!

Anonymous said...

Hello there... Just wanted you to know.. that I loved your mousse cake so much... that I had to share it on my FB page..

Hope thats ok with you... Loved your blog and will be back for some more!! :-)

Milly said...

so so beautiful!

I'm loving your blog, I'm following!

Would love you to enter my amazing GIVEAWAY- to win a pasta making course and meal with wine for two:


Monica Adriana said...

hey Bertha, i just found your blog from Table for 2, and i directly fell in love with your blog. u and your blog are so amazing! you really create desserts like professional's do, and in fact that u're an Indonesian too makes me admire you more. i've followed your blog! u are an inspiration!

Nguyen Ngoc Lan said...

Wow, It's so lovely! I will try make the one for my lover.

Unknown said...

I know that I am coming in real late on this comment, but...I saw this beautiful dessert on pinterest and pinned it. I have gotten over 2000 repins and a lot of people commenting and asking for the recipe. I knew of your blog, follow it, and LOVE it. It is a very special blog, clean and beautiful. I have a blog myself and am going to post your recipe with all the info and promoting you and your blog. Hopefully you will get a bunch of followers, like me! My blog is xoxo Keep up the most beautiful work i've seen ~

amruta said...

Great idea. I love strawberries. This desert is perfect for valentines day. cake layering is little difficult for me. Any tips for layering?

Bertha said...

Amruta: which part is difficult for you? When it comes to layering, freezer is your best friend :)

Bertha said...

Everyday Gourmet: Thanks a lot! Glad to hear that. Although I am kinda curious who put it on pinterest. I am still really new to this pinterest thing (yea, I know), and so I really didnt know entirely how it works. But glad to read your comments :)

Anonymous said...

Where do I find pistachio paste? This dessert is amazing!

Bertha said...

Anonymous: You can find pistachio paste online or making your own. There are instructions on the web on how to do this

Anonymous said...

Hello there...thank you so much for sharing the recipe. I followed exactly but only the strawberry mousse didn't come out as expected. It was very runny even after freezing it. The mousse never set. Is the 1.75 tsp measurement for the gelatin + 2 tbsp of water correct? Please help, thank you!

Bertha said...

anonymous: The mousse will be not be very firm, but it shouldn't be runny. I usually try to use the min amount of gelatin in my mousse, but enough to make it set. you can increase the gelatin to 2tsp. I never actually measured the water, as long as it is enough to moistened the gelatin, that should be enough.

this recipe is from a while ago, you can use my newer strawberry mousse recipe from different cake if you'd like.

emmi said...

i can try this its looking so tastyy

Shrey Patel said...

Your Pics looks fantastic.
I really love your Ideas.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hi I just made it and it looks perfect :) can I just check if the cake is meant to be served frozen or do I leave it in the fridge after it has been completely frozen overnight?

Bertha said...

Anonymous: The cake was supposed to be served cold, fridge temperature, not frozen :). So yes, you need to let it thaw in the fridge overnight before serving it

Anonymous said...

I was afraid the mousse would collapse without the cake ring but I'll give it a shot :) thanks the things you make are beautiful you inspire me!! :)

Trish said...

Hi. You mentioned Chefcake site but it looks like it is only Japanese - do they have an English translation? Thanks.

Bertha said...

It is a Japanese website. I use Google translation to translate it in English

Eden Passante said...