A savory dessert or appetizer.
After a series of acorn squashes, we started receiving butternut squashes from our CSA. Having a great deal of fresh sage on hand and some hazelnuts, I decided to make a butternut squash mousse combining these ingredients. The result turned out to be delicious and complimentary flavors and just as perfect for a savory dessert or an appetizer.
For those of you who are not keen on sweet desserts, try making this in small molds, even muffin molds, and serve warm at the end of a meal.
As a mousse, and not a soufflé, this dish does not rise much. So it is easy to unmold and serve on a platter or individual plates for smaller versions.
1 butternut squash (about 2.2 oz)
1 large shallot (about 3 oz)
3 oz hazelnuts
1/4 oz fresh sage
3 organic brown eggs
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter to brush the baking mold(s)
Freshly ground sea salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Bake butternut squash in the same way as for the acorn squash in the Acorn Squash and Kale salad recipe, for about 45 minutes. Once soft to the touch, take out the squash of the oven, and set aside until cool enough to handle. Then, turn the oven temperature down to 350 F.
Set the butter out at room temperature so that it softens.
Chop the shallot finely by slicing it horizontally, then vertically in perpendicular directions, while holding on to the roots.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium high, add the shallots once the oil is hot and immediately turn down the heat to low. Let cook slowly till translucent.
Meanwhile, prepare the sage. Remove the leafs from the stems.
Chop the leaves finely and reserve a few whole leaves for decoration.
Place the hazelnuts in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process by pulsing.
Keep pulsing until roughly ground.
Once the butter is softened, brush it on the bottom and sides of the baking dish. It is important to use softened butter and not hasten the process by melting it because it will not adhere as well to the sides of the dish.
Place about 2 Tbsps. of ground hazelnuts on the bottom of the dish and swirl it around so that the hazelnuts coat up to one third of the dish.
Reserve another tablespoon of ground hazelnuts for decoration.
Pour the remaining hazelnuts from the food processor bowl into the skillet where the shallots have become translucent. Mix well.
Keep cooking on low heat, turning occasionally, until the hazelnuts brown slightly to develop their nutty flavor. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, the butternut squash should be cool enough to handle.
Press it through a ricer into a bowl, or you might also purée it in a food processor if you prefer.
You should obtain a smooth purée, with no lump.
Add the sage and hazelnut/shallot mixture. Mix well.
Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Place the egg whites in a large bowl to whisk them.
Incorporate the egg yolks, one at a time, by mixing rapidly into the squash mixture (make sure it is cool so as to not cook the eggs). Season with salt and pepper.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm.
Add one third of the egg whites to the squash mixture and mix thoroughly. Then add the remaining egg whites and fold them in.
Keep folding the egg whites until you obtain a uniform airy mixture.
Pour into the baking dish (or separate smaller dishes) and bake in the 350 F. oven for about 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the dishes you are using.
When the sides of the mousse come away from the dish, the mousse is ready.
Unmold it, decorate with ground hazelnuts and sage and enjoy immediately!