We attended an annual wine tasting soiree last night at the home of our friend Jeff. The theme was French, and Jeff asked each guest to bring a bottle of French wine and an "amuse bouche".
Amuse Bouche is french for "amuse mouth" (per Yahoo Babelfish). I have also seen it defined as a "palate teaser"
Amuse Bouche should be a bit heartier than an appetizer- one or two bites of a gourmet miniature is the intent. And presentation is essential. While it is often served at the beginning of a meal, many chefs are daring to amuse the mouth in between other courses as well.
I pondered the downsizing of several of my specialties before settling on stuffed strawberries. We have been in the midst of a serious heatwave up here in Seattle (where most people cannot rationalize buying an airconditioner for the two weeks we are treated to summer in average years) The last thing I wanted to do was heat up the oven. When I came across flats of beautiful strawberries at Central Market on Saturday morning, I immediately knew that my amuse bouche would have to include framboise.
I have made stuffed strawberries previously, but this is the first time I used marscapone cheese instead of cream cheese. The result was magnificent. The recipe is simple (a good candidate for this post) and the results are elegant.
Strawberries stuffed with Marscapone
4 oz Marscapone cheese
1/2 tsp superfine sugar
A few drops of vanilla
Optional: grated good quality dark chocolate, small mint leaves, fine ground vanilla wafers, a sliver of almond...let me know if you think of something else!
For best appearance, prepare just an hour or two before you serve them.
- Cut a small slice off the bottom of each strawberry so that they can stand on thier own.
- Using a paring knife, or a strawberry "huller" , cut around the stem and scoop out the top of the strawberry to form a little strawberry cup. (I have a pampered chef one and it makes the job super easy)
- Mix together the marscapone, sugar and vanilla. Chill the mixture-this is optional- I just found that it pipes better cold.
- Using a pastry bag, (a plastic bag with a clipped corner works well too), fill each strawberry with the marscapone mixture.
- Sprinkle top of each strawberry with a pinch of grated dark chocolate and a small mint leaf.
I have also used cream cheese in place of the marscapone in the past which provided a bit of a cheese cake effect. This is especially good with a sprinkling of vanilla wafer. Or add almond extract to the cheese mixture and top each with an almond slice.
If you don't want to go to all that trouble to make it pretty, this is another one of those great little combos that make a great informal snack over the kitchen sink. Simon and I polished off the leftover marscapone and strawberries tonight in that very fashion. Delicious.