Chef's Table Recipe: Fromage Blanc Mousse

James Beard featured chef Martin Brock makes this creamy dessert with fromage blanc, also known as quark in the Alpine region of Europe. This cheese is soft and spreadable, and has a pleasant tang. If you can't find it in your local supermarket, try using a high quality Greek yogurt instead.

Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

For the oranges:

6 oranges, peeled
1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons cornstarch

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2 tablespoons sugar
1 star anise
2 pieces allspice
1 piece cardamom
1 cinnamon stick
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped

For the mousse:

½ cup heavy cream
½ cup fromage blanc
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon, juice and zest
1/3 cup orange juice
2 egg whites
4 tablespoons plus 1½ teaspoons sugar
Pinch of salt
6 mint leaves, for garnish

Special equipment: cheesecloth

METHOD:

Cut the oranges into the supremes, place the supremes in a bowl, and reserve the juice. Combine half of the orange juice with the cornstarch and whisk together to make a slurry.

In a small pot over medium heat, cook the sugar until it turns deep brown and forms a caramel; be careful not to let it burn. Add the remaining orange juice, star anise, allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, and vanilla bean; stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the orange juice–cornstarch slurry until the mixture has thickened. Simmer for 2 minutes more, strain, and pour it over the supremed oranges. Refrigerate for about 12 hours.

To make the mousse, use a mixer to whip the heavy cream until soft peaks are formed. Gently fold in the fromage blanc, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and zest. Whisk together until well mixed. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites, sugar, and a pinch of salt until it holds stiff peaks. Using a spatula, gently fold half the whipped egg white mixture into fromage blanc mixture. Once incorporated, fold in the remaining egg white mixture. Place a piece of cheesecloth over a strainer and place the mixture in the cloth. Allow the excess liquid to drain out for at least 1 hour, but not more than 6 hours.

To serve, divide the orange segments among 6 plates. Using 2 spoons, make a quenelle of the mousse and place on top of the oranges. Garnish with a mint leaf and serve.


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