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Long story short, this dessert is a simple response to two problems in our house – finding a dessert that is slightly more nutritionally defensible than ice cream or chocolate, and finding a simple dish that is a reasonable source of calcium and protein that everyone likes. Just to add a no-waste twist, this is also a good way of using up extra ricotta when I buy one of the baskets of fresh ricotta that contain 500g or 1kg.

Slightly longer story, we’re pretty keen on desserts around here, particularly ice cream (nothing terribly surprising there!), but I don’t like to have it as an every day item. I also have a child who is quite fussy about dairy (due partly to being lactose intolerant), so doesn’t eat cheese or most yoghurt or sour cream or etc. He does like cheesecake, and chocolate mousse, but that sort of defeats the slightly-more-nutritionally-defensible part!

Anyway, based on a couple of Moosewood recipes, we came up with recipes for chocolate, coffee, and berry ricotta mousses that are (most importantly) absolutely delicious, but also low sugar, healthy(ish) desserts. Recently, both children chose this mousse over cookies ’n cream ice cream; the ultimate test of deliciousness I think you’ll have to agree! We generally serve with berries, but there are many options – see below.

Because this is so simple, the quality of ingredients is important. Do use really fresh ricotta, not the packaged stuff sold in tubs, or from somewhere with a low turnover, and taste before using.  If it has any stale taste at all then use in something else (pasta, pancakes, muffins etc) where prefect freshness isn’t so critical. I also use good chocolate (the sort I’d be happy to eat plain), homemade or good quality jam etc. I have to confess I do use instant coffee in the coffee version, but that’s mostly so I’m not adding extra liquid.

Really this is just flavoured ricotta, so there are multiple possible variations – add coffee to the chocolate to make mocha mousse; white chocolate mousse rather than dark with raspberries or blackberries folded in; coffee mousse with toasted walnuts or hazelnuts; chocolate mousse with orange zest and served with sliced oranges; or plain or coffee mousse with maple syrup and toasted walnuts served with poached apples or pears…the possibilities are endless, so I hope youll give one a try!

Ricotta mousse – chocolate, coffee or berry

Adapted from a couple of recipes in Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

  • 500g ricotta
  • For chocolate mousse
  • 100g melted dark chocolate
  • 1-2 Tbs caster sugar (optional depending on sweetness of chocolate)
  • For coffee mousse
  • 2 Tbs coffee
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
  • For berry mousse
  • 2-3 Tbs berry jam (depending on preference and the sweetness of the berries)
  • 125g punnet berries

For all three variations, beat the ricotta in a food processor for a couple of minutes until smooth and light. Add chosen flavourings, except for berries, and process until combined. Taste for sweetness, I like these only very slightly sweet, but adjust to your own tase. If making the berry mousse, add half the berries and pulse until just combined, without reducing berries to puree. Remove from the processor and fold in the remaining berries.  Spoon into an airtight container and chill for an hour.  These will keep for several days in the fridge.

Serves four.