Daylight seems to never fade over the blooming fields as the sun’s warmth beats down. It’s the start of summer. The summer solstice, the longest day of the year. A day that has been marked and celebrated throughout time. Midsummer.
Midsummer is a celebration of both folklore and Christianity in Norway and across Scandinavia. In Norway, you’ll hear the names Midtsommer and Sankthans interchangeably. The older tradition of celebrating the summer solstice then blended into a newer tradition of Sankthans, which commemorates the birth of John the Baptist. While the name Sankthans still reflects the Christian view of the day (St Hans), it is the non-Christian elements, such as the midsummer bonfire, which has held fast over the years. And while the day is celebrated less so than that of Norway’s neighbor, Sweden, it is still viewed as the arrival of summer.
If there is one thing in Norway that says summertime, it would be strawberries. And what better way to celebrate Midsummer then by serving a light dessert which centers around the strawberry and brings a sense of playfulness and nostalgia around it.
Strawberry mousse, jordbærfromasj, is exactly that. It’s buoyant. It’s light. It’s creamy. Its entire nature seems to bring out a playful curiosity. As if it just beckons the observer to go ahead and have a taste. It’s irresistible look is probably what made it so popular so many centuries ago.
Mousse appears to have originated sometime in the 1800s, perhaps evolving out of pudding, where the addition of added whipped cream made it airy. Later, egg whites would contribute to a more firm and fluffy mousse, while soon after the addition of gelatin would take it to a whole other level of buoyancy.
Its moment in the spotlight seemed to have faded out in the 1960s when other types of desserts began to trend and gelatin seemed to take a back seat. While recipes for mousse carried on throughout niche cookbooks, it never quite regained its place as the favorite ending to any meal.
Having said that, as with many good things they tend to make a comeback. And apparently, mousse is fighting its way back into the hearts of a new generation, especially in Denmark. With a bit of creativity and imagination, life is being breathed back into this classic dish giving it an increase in appreciation.
Jordbærfromasj is a fun dessert to have on any table. It looks beautiful, it’s bouncy and it’s a light dish during those warm summer days. For a truly vintage dish, this one is sure to please.
Fresh Strawberry Mousse (Jordbærfromasj)
- 2 ½ cups (500g) fresh strawberries
- 3 eggs
- 5 (3 x 4 ½ -inch / 7 ½ x 11 ½ cm) gelatin sheets or 2 ½ teaspoons gelatin powder
- 1 cup (80g) sugar
- 1 ½ cups (3 ½ dl) heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Strawberries to decorate with
Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for 10 minutes.
Slice the berries in small pieces, place in a large bowl and add 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Mix the sugar and berries together.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
Mix the egg yolks together with the remaining sugar and vanilla extract.
Drain the water from the gelatin sheets. Boil some water and add 3 tablespoons of the water to the gelatin sheets, stirring to dissolve. (If using gelatin powder, place 4 tablespoons of cold water into a small saucepan, sprinkle in the gelatine and warm over low heat, without stirring, until the gelatine has dissolved.) Mix the dissolved gelatin into the strawberry and sugar mixture. Then add the egg yolk mixture and stir together. Finally, with a spatula, fold in the whipped egg whites and the whipped cream. Make sure everything gets blended together, gently.
Take a bundt cake pan or shaped cake pan, grease it and pour the mousse mixture inside. Cover the top with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
When ready to serve, place a large serving plate (wider than the cake pan) on top and gently turn the cake pan over so the mouse slides off. You might need to gently wiggle it free or even follow the edge of the mousse with a dull knife to loosen any parts which might stick a little.
Decorate the mousse with more strawberries, sliced or whole. Be sure to serve the mousse cold, as it begins to loose its firmness after sitting at room temperature for awhile. Enjoy!
♦For another Midsummer treat, try Rømmegrøt Ice Cream