No Bake | Strawberry & Cape Gooseberry Quark Mousse … delicious eggless dessert in season #vegetarian

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

Strawberry & Cape Gooseberry Quark Mousse Strawberry & Cape Gooseberry Quark Mousse … yes, it’s that time of the year yet again. SPRING! I love it. It’s euphoria all around with new leaves unfurling everyday, flowering tomato plants that hold promise of a ‘good crop’, herbs that finally begin to expand like there’s no tomorrow. Also days when quark gets made beautifully and with ease!Spring And if there is homemade quark on hand, can dessert be far behind? I make huge amounts of quark, a curd cheese I love to love. Ever since I first discovered it 5 years ago, thanks to Hoglet K from Down Under, it has brought about a change in the way I think ‘desserts‘.Quark dessertsQuark isn’t just the sweet way home. I use it often to add wonderful tangy flavour to chicken like in theis Chicken Quark Cross Over Puff Pastry, as part of creamy dressings, in cold potato salads, in stir fries etc. A little goes a long way and once you start exploring, you will find a billion novel ways to include it in your everyday food. 

Chicken Quark Crossover Puff PastryI made Strawberry & Cape Gooseberry Quark Mousse just before we left for a short vacation {which might explain why it’s been so quiet around PAB}. The mousse was addictive and a huge hit with everyone. It got added texture from some chocolate coated homemade granola which I was experimenting with.

Strawberry & Cape Gooseberry Quark Mousse I love the way the colours, textures and flavours came together in this dessert which is a celebration of spring. These days we have a virtual flood of seasonal fruit in the market with cape gooseberries {locally called ‘rhasbhari’ meaning filled with juice} and strawberries ruling the roost. It’s a riot of colour with the fruit piled up high at local bazaars and on handcarts lining the roadside.

Strawberry & Cape Gooseberry Quark Mousse With daytime highs already hitting the early 30’s, it’s just a matter of days before summer arrives. Then of course we’ll welcome days of luscious stone fruit; sizzling hot 45C+ temperatures will be part of the deal though! Until then, this is a great way to enjoy spring fruit.

Summer Salad with orange vinaigrette You can go the salad route too with them! Rocket or mixed salad greens, strawberries, cape gooseberries, feta or cottage cheese, grapes, walnuts, orange, red onion all tossed in a nice tangy orange vinaigrette!

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Baking |Kumquat Quark Cheesecake with a Date Almond Kumquat Base … gluten free, healthy and delicious

“The only way cheese is dessert is when it’s followed by the word cake.”
Michele Gorman

Kumquat Quark Cheesecake 1Kumquat Quark Cheesecake with a Date Almond Kumquat Base... a cheesecake that happened because I had a good batch of homemade quark even though I had Quark Mousse with Balsamic Roasted Strawberries in mind. Also because I still had the large bag of sweet moist dates that I had brought back from a recent trip to Mumbai. They needed to go somewhere, preferably someplace exciting.

KumquatsKumquatsDid I need any more reasons? Well no, but inspiration leaps out of the most colourful places! So the not so heavily laden anymore kumquat shrub had a last few kumquats that were turning a brilliant orange and had got Coco’s glad eye! How could I not play spoil sport?

Kumquats and CocoThe base of the cheesecake is inspired from one of my favourite hang outs, The Kitchn, that had shared a beautiful and ever so simple kumquat tart a while ago. Interestingly the base was made up of almonds, dates and oats.

Kumquat Quark Cheesecake 3I’ve been on a whole grain oaty sort of a drive of late, so the idea held instant appeal. The base is super simple as promised … so I had to veer off course! That is inherently me! I decided to flavour the base with some part kumquat and threw in 2 deseeded whole orange babies!

Kumquat Quark CheesecakeThen ‘the panic of the kids‘ kicked in, them who might reject any overpowering taste of dates in the cheesecake base. It was some good quality cocoa powder, a precious stash of delightful Russian cocoa that a good friend once brought, that would add taste!

Kumquats and CocoNot one to leave good enough alone, my obsession worked. I loved the way the base came together in seconds. Cheesecake filling is always fun. Now always quark, full fat home made quark, and never cream cheese. I love the way it works in cheesecake.

Kumquat Quark Cheesecake You need to plan in advance if you want to bake the cheesecake {and a few days more if you want to make quark}. Let the cake chill in the fridge overnight, slowly  and happily! The flavours mature, the texture becomes smooth and beautiful. Of course you are rewarded with a dessert the minute you open the fridge.

Kumquat Quark Cheesecake This in turns leaves enough time and inspiration for topping it in a fun and colourful way. I opted for a candied kumquat vanilla with a bitter orange thai red chili marmalade. You can always skip the marmalade and use a berry conserve. Alternatively, make a plain vanilla cheesecake and top it with a berry glaze or compote.

Kumquat Quark Cheesecake Endless possibilities. Strawberries and pistachios. Salted butter caramel. Honeyed figs should be fun too! Maybe a Nutella topping with a smattering of hazelnuts? Or flavour the cheesecake with coffee and a coffee liqueur and drizzle a bittersweet runny ganache over it. Even better, an Irish cream sauce! Think out of the box and inside your pantry; amaze yourself! 

fruit of the seasonThat’s what I love about desserts like this. So versatile and such fun to make. I usually stick to fruit in season as they inspire me and often put me in panic mode since they’re going to be gone soon. The burst of colour adds to appeal. I love this version because I played around with ingredients and unintentionally ended up with a gluten free cheesecake.

Kumquat Quark Cheesecake in jarsSee I told you, endless possibilities! I did a few sans the base in little jam jars too. Topped them with Nutella, bitter kumquat marmalade and fresh quartered strawberries. They were polished clean within minutes amidst great praise. The daughter added strawberries to her cheesecake slice later as well!

Kumquat Quark Cheesecake The base isn’t your everyday light as air buttery biscuit base. This one is dense, flavourful and slightly chewy. The good thing is that it keeps the dessert gluten free. You could always use your favourite base instead!

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Baking | Stone Fruit & Quark Mousse Layered Cake … refreshing summer cake #stonefruitlove

“Cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness!
If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!”
C. JoyBell C

Stone Fruit & Quark Mousse Layered CakeStone Fruit & Quark Mousse Layered Cake ... a light lemon scented sponge layered with  a homemade quark cheese & cream filling. The filling taken to a delicious summery high with a stone fruit pie filling inspired by a recipe from Pioneer Woman. Turned out to be a fruity and delicious birthday cake!

Stone Fruit & Quark Cream Layered Cake Another birthday, another cake. Summer birthdays are a little bothersome. Humid summer birthdays even more. My dad’s birthday falls in July. If the heat isn’t bad enough, with the monsoons here too, the humidity threatens to play spoilsport. Nothing behaves. NOTHING! The only bright spot … cartloads of stone fruit!

Summer Stone FruitThe cream does not get whipped up. The double cream that I have bought locally disappointed once again. Thankfully I had made some quark the night before as I had this Quark Mousse Cake with Roasted Balsamic Strawberries in my head.

Stone Fruit & Quark Cream CakeQuark adds a special yumminess to the cream filling. The slight undertones of tanginess of the curd cheese pair really well with stone fruit {and berries too}. I use quark a lot as you can see here. Now it makes me happy to see my friends and local food bloggers like Cookaroo and White Ramekins experiment with this very simple to make curd cheese.

Stone Fruit & Quark Cream Layered Cake I was in and out of the fridge with the cake. In weather like this, you have to work really fast. But it was fun. You learn to push the boundaries. A collar I didn’t think possible in this weather became possible. Shooting while piping it etc certainly wasn’t. 2 minutes out of the fridge in a hot kitchen and the lace collar curled up and threatened to melt.

Stone Fruit & Quark Cream Layered Cake I discovered a new stone fruit on the shelves this summer, actually only a day ago. It looks like a green plum, and I thought greengage maybe. But the guy at the bazaar muttered something quite inaudible like ‘pericosa‘. Googled forever and didn’t find anything. Leafed through one of my favourite cookbooks Fine Cooking In Season, and sure enough I found a listing under plums. The book is a wonderful reference on fresh produce in season. I’ve had it for 3 years and I turn to it often!

Stone Fruit & Quark Cream Layered Cake These are called Mariposa plums, and are being cultivated locally in Manali, nestled in the Kullu  Valley in the Himalayas. So pretty and pretty delicious too, I couldn’t believe the deep red inside when  I cut through one. Stunning!

Stone Fruit & Quark Cream Layered Cake & mariposa plumsSo in they went as well into the bowl with the pitted cherries with a few regular plums, all having a blast together. You could just do a cherry pie filling if you like. Our cherry season is at its fag end even as peaches and plums flood the bazaar.

Stone Fruit & Quark Cream Layered Cake I added some Camisoni premium lemon extract to the sponge. Lemon and fruit pair really well. The deep aromatic extract added a lot of flavour to the sponges. Together the lemon sponge, quark mousse and stone fruit gave the Stone Fruit & Quark Mousse Layered Cake the refreshing feel of summer.

Which brings me to the winners of the Camisoni tip and tricks giveaway. Our three winners are Yasmin, Andrea and Sangeeta. Will mail you soon for your mailing address! Congratulations to the three of you. Thank you all for the wonderful tips.

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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