“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!


Recipe: Strawberry & Cape Gooseberry Quark Mousse your picture

Summary: Light, healthy, addictive, refreshing, Strawberry & Cape Gooseberry Quark Mousse is a wonderful spring dessert. Use fruit in season to give a burst of natural flavours and sweetness! Serves 6-8

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

  • Quark Mousse
  • 300g quark, chilled
  • 300g low fat cream, chilled
  • 50g powdered sugar
  • Strawberry & Cape Gooseberry reduction
  • 200g strawberries, chopped
  • 100g cape gooseberries, chopped
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 15ml balsamic vinegar
  • 1 vanilla bean shell {I save mine in a sugar jar after using the insides}


  1. Quark Mousse
  2. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and beat until smooth and thick.
  3. Reserve 100g quark mousse and 50g fruit reduction for topping. Mix the remaining mousse and fruit together gently and spoon into serving dishes/glasses.
  4. Add a sprinkling of chocolate coated granola if desired.
  5. Keep 4-6 tsps of fruit, and mix the rest through the reserved mousse. This will just give additional layers of colour. Top the  glasses with the second mix, and then top with the remaining reserved fruit reduction.
  6. Garnish with fresh fruit, mint leaves and chocolate granola.
  7. Strawberry & Cape Gooseberry reduction
  8. Place all ingredients in a non reactive heavy bottom pan and simmer until it gets nice and thick and syrupy. Cool completely and then chill. Use as required. {This can be made a couple of days before and refrigerated. Other than reducing work, it also preserves the fruit for a little longer}.


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“My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.”
Erma Bombeck

Quarkauflauf, Quark Cassarole with Balsamic StrawberriesHappy Easter!! Sorry things have been a bit slow here on PAB. It’s been a trying past few days, with new and unwelcome terms like ‘CPU throttling‘ denting my otherwise settled life.  H E L P !! Blogging brought new technical insights for me, things I could do well without, especially throttling and WP plug-ins that mess up the database!! I am eternally grateful to my wonderful designer Katie, who is ever willing to help! Sometimes, I feel like I need a 24 X 7 helpline with all this technical mess!QuarkAs I continue to struggle with technical glitches, of course life isn’t going full throttle otherwise as we try to bring up the teens, sometimes unsuccessful even though our intentions are good. As the teen says … w h a t e v a h !!  For times like this, this dessert was comforting, like a ray of sunshine on an otherwise bleak day, a splash of colour to lift the spirits!Quarkauflauf, Quark Cassarole with Balsamic StrawberriesEver since I discovered making curd cheese or QUARK at home,  food has never been the same again. Soft cheeses like ricotta, mascarpone, quark, cottage cheese are easily made at home, and at a fraction of the cost. I did a post a while ago on making soft cheese at home. The one  I tend to make most often is quark as I love how versatile it is. It’s also very simple to make, and offers great pairing with fruit. I used it to make a Quark Cheesecake with Fresh Cherry Pie Filling , and in these no bake Cherry & Matcha Cheesecake Pots here. This no bake  Strawberry and Quark Cheesecake {eggless} is a great one for summer too. QuarkI use quark O F T E N as you see above, and in May 2010 I ‘metMagdalena over this Finish Chai Spice Pulla. On her blog I found a Polish cheesecake recipe, that used a Polish curd cheese, twaróg, and this was what I wanted to make – Kraków Style Cheesecake. My fascination with soft curd cheese continued; I had found a new one to obsess about, and I had found a sweet new food blogger! Quarkauflauf, Quark Cassarole with Balsamic StrawberriesThis is the other rewarding outcome of experimenting with quark & food blogging – ‘food talk‘. It’s wholly satisfying to blog about something I loved to make, and ever more exhilirating to make contact with another food blogger who is large hearted and equally enamoured by the ingredient! We continued to discuss culinary traditions and then one day she sent me a recipe she grew up with as quark is readily available in Germany. My mother would make it once a week and we never grew tired of it, she said.

I’ll share a little background that she sent me: When my mother had finished highschool in Germany, she went on to a school to learn more about housework, including cooking. That’s back in the day, so it does not exist anymore. She had this cookbook that explained every recipe in detail, from the simplest puddings to the most complicated meals. This is where this recipe comes from. My mother has never been a happy cook, so-to-say, but this recipe and roast chicken is definitely something that made all of us happy. That’s what she would make. Quarkauflauf, Quark Cassarole with Balsamic StrawberriesMy grandmother lived on the first floor as this was the house she also grew up in. So, she would cook the rest of the time and I would watch her happily work away in the kitchen. This is all in the small city of Mönchengladbach-Rheydt, right between Düsseldorf and the Dutch borderline, hometown of Joseph Pilates (the Pilates fitness guru). My mom still lives in the same house and when she came to visit us last year here in the US, I had just made Quarkauflauf. She very much enjoyed the leftovers and loves that I now make it for my family … as a special treat every now and then.

Quarkauflauf, Quark Cassarole with Balsamic StrawberriesIt’s been just under a year she sent the recipe to me, and then one day I had fresh quark and wanted to bake with it, and this Quarkauflauf was just the thing . Quark offers a relatively inexpensive and lower calorie option to cream cheese and there’s nothing like  making cheese freshwhen you need it! The original recipe uses cream of wheat, an ingredient not available here, so I googled and the closest I came to was semolina. It worked!!Quarkauflauf, Quark Cassarole with Balsamic Strawberries This is a lovely casserole, like a firm cheesecake. “My girls love taking it to school for lunch … it’s like having cheese cake for lunch 😉 Can it get any better than that?”, Magdalena said, and suggests that it can be eaten hot/warm as well. I wasn’t sure mine was set, so I chilled it for a couple of hours before slicing it. It was nicely set, so will be great warm too. I used seasonal strawberries softened over low heat with brown sugar and balsamic vinegar {some of which I used in Barbara’s Eggless Old fashioned Layered Chocolate Cake}.



Recipe from Magdalena @ Tasty Colours {minimally adapted }Quarkauflauf, Quark Cassarole with Balsamic Strawberries

Summary: This is a lovely casserole, like a firm cheesecake. “My girls love taking it to school for lunch … it’s like having cheese cake for lunch 😉 Can it get any better than that?”, Magdalena said. It can be eaten hot/warm as welt, though I served mine chilled. I used seasonal strawberries softened over low heat with brown sugar and balsamic vinegar

350g quark (skim, though I’ve also used quark made from 2% and whole milk)
80g butter (softened)
80g semolina {or better still, cream of wheat}
100g sugar
1 egg (separated)
1 vanilla bean, scraped
Filling / Topping:
200gms fresh strawberries
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup granular sugar
1 vanilla bean {optional}
Note: apples, hazelnuts, raisins, cinnamon, or other combinations of fruit + nuts
Breadcrumbs {if you don’t have any, cream of wheat works just fine, too}

Place strawberries, sugar, scraped vanilla bean and balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan, and simmer till it becomes thick and jam-like. Cool completely.
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Butter a medium size baking dish and coat bottom and sides with breadcrumbs or cream of wheat. I do prefer the breadcrumbs as they make the outside a bit crunchier.
Mix together quark, butter, semolina/cream of wheat, sugar, vanilla bean and egg yolk until smooth. Beat egg white and fold into quark mixture.
Fill half of quark mixture with 2 tbsp balsamic strawberries stirred through into baking dish. Top with half the balsamic strawberries.
Now add the rest of the Quark mixture on top of your fruit. Spread this second layer to the edges and smoothen out.
Top with a good sprinkling of breadcrumbs or cream of wheat, again, the breadcrumbs make it crunchier. {I forgot all about this and the specks of butter}
Lightly top with little specks of butter and bake for about 1 hour.
Enjoy fresh out of the oven or even cooled.
Top with balsamic strawberries once slightly cool. If serving it hot, serve the strawberries on the side.
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‘The most indispensable ingredient of all good home cooking: love, for those you are cooking for.”
Sophia Loren

Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna Cotta with Oatmeal FlorentinesIt’s the 27th, the Daring Bakers time of the month. Really geared up from last months Entermet and imprime experience, the first look at February’s challenge posted had me a little disheartened even though the panna cotta is on top of my list of favourite desserts. After a rejuvenating and very challenging beginning to the year, I warmed up to the idea of a creamy panna cotta pretty soon.

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.
Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna Cotta with Oatmeal Florentines

Like every challenge, this one was soon beginning to tempt me into the kitchen. I have to declare my love for panna cotta. I think it’s the most luxuriant and indulgent dessert ever, yet one that comes laden with guilty calories. The calories are the only thing that keep me from making this often, so in many ways I was secretly happy to see the challenge. Dark chocolate espresso panna cottaFate had me make a Dark Chocolate Espresso Panna Cotta last week too…LOL!! As Mallory promised, this was certainly turning out to be a Creamy Dreamy Crunchy Sweet February, the month of love!

Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna Cotta The luxury of a creamy panna cotta, a challenge that wasn’t breathing fire down your throat, made  me want to try something new at  my own pace, which is what I did. Even though I bought cream {read lots of it } I thought quark panna cotta, made with quark, a soft curd cheese I have come to love.Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna Cotta with Oatmeal FlorentinesGoogling for recipe proportions led me to one that my lovely friend Meeta had done ages ago. My recipe is based roughly on hers. Mine was definitely going to have a fruit pairing because I find that the slight tanginess of quark is complimented beautifully by seasonal fruit.  Planned a strawberry quark panna cotta with a chocolate gelee, but once the pots and pans were out, other thoughts came to my mind. I saw tangerines on my little shrub, and decided to go with a 2 toned panna cotta. Bye bye chocolate, hello tangerine. Orange you glad I chose you?Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna Cotta Home made quark is the best thing that happened to me a couple of years ago while doing a featured post for Foodbuzz. I whizzed the quark, strawberries and sugar to a smooth puree; yummy enough to eat at this stage itself. Using 2 flavours meant an overnight wait for one later to set first. For the second layer, I went the citrus way using some  bitter tangerine marmalade I had recently made. Fingers crossed, into the fridge it went. Quark and fruit are a rocking good combination.Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna Cotta with Oatmeal FlorentinesThe Oatmeal Florentines should have been  a cakewalk, but I missed reading the flour in there. I made half  the recipe. The minute the first tray was into the oven and bubbling like lava, I knew something was wrong. No time to recheck, so I just stirred in some more oats and made the second tray. My cookies were by default gluten free! {A check later revealed I had forgotten to add the plain flour}. These are some delicious cookies, and oh-so-addictive. No time for melted chocolate, meant good old Nutella.

Thank you Mallory for the very Creamy Dreamy Crunchy Sweet February, and thank you as always Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!! Do stop by HERE and check the dreams’ that our other daring folk have stirred up around the globe.

Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna CottaStrawberry Vanilla Quark Panna Cotta
200 ml low fat cream
150g quark
200gms strawberries
3 sheets gelatin
1 vanilla bean, scraped and pod reserved
Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for 5 minutes.
Blend the quark with strawberries and sugar until smooth. Reserve.
Simmer cream and vanilla bean for 5 minutes. Squeeze out the water from  the gelatin sheets and stir into the simmering cream until mixed  through {do not allow to boil}. Remove from heat.
Fold in 2tbsps  of quark mixture into cream, and then mix the entire cream into the  quark until uniform. Divide into 6 serving glasses. Allow to set for 4-6 hours {more if the weather is hot .I tend to use more gelatin in warmer weather.}
Quark Tangerine Vanilla Panna Cotta
200ml low fat cream
1 vanilla bean scraped
zest of 1 orange
2 sheets of gelatin
75gms quark
1/2 cup bitter orange marmalade
Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for 5 minutes while you simmer the cream.
Simmer cream, orange zest and vanilla bean for 5 minutes. Squeeze out  the water from the gelatin sheets and stir into the simmering cream  until mixed through. Remove from heat.
Blend the quark with tangerine marmalade until smooth. {Adjust sugar if  required. It will get less sweet once you add the cream to this}
Fold in 2tbsps of quark mixture into cream, and then mix the entire  cream into the quark until uniform. Stir constantly to cool as it will  melt the previously set panna cotta if it is too hot.
Ladle/pour gently into the serving glasses on top of the already set  quark strawberry panna cotta. Leave to set for another 4-6 hours,  preferably overnight.
Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna CottaStrawberry/ Tangerine Gelee
100gms strawberries
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
2 tbsp bitter orange marmalade
Simmer the ingredients until soft and gelly like. Pass  through a sieve, pushing the fruit through to get a clear puree. Cool and ladle on top of the panna cotta.
Candied Tangerines
2-3 tangerines, sliced fine
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
Place all ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. then gently simmer  till the slices become translucent. Remove gently to a parchment paper {reserve the syrup for a lemonade etc}, and bake in low {100C} over for about an hour or two, turning once or twice, until they appear translucent.

Oatmeal FlorentinesNestle Florentine Cookies
Adapted from recipe from the cookbookNestle Classic Recipes
2/3 cup  unsalted butter
2 3/4 cups quick oats
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
½ cups Nutella
Preheat oven to 190°C. Prepare your baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.
To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk,  vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the  back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.
Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.
Peel the cookies from the parchment and place face down on  a wire rack set.
Spread a tablespoon of Nutella on the bottom/flat side of your  cookie, sandwiching another cookie atop the chocolate.
This recipe will make about 2 1/2 – 3 dozen sandwiched Florentine  cookies.{I made half recipe}

Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna Cotta with Oatmeal Florentines

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