13 Feb 2011

Back in love

St. Valentine’s Ricotta mousse tower with sweet-&-nutty tomato jam and a milk-chocolate ganache.

Before loving the others we must be able to love ourselves.
I don’t know who said this, because I am sure that such a deep truth must have come out in human history quite a few times.
I am loving myself and my life more and more these days. Something has changed, something that can’t be touched or described or interpreted; me for one I am not sure of what happened. The only secure thing is that it isn’t the effect of drugs, except my daily cup of coffee I am almost vices free (sigh).
It just happened this week, last Tuesday to be precise; after a dreadful weekend of self commiseration and depression I sort of started seeing the sun shining again. In total truth I believe that this “miracle” has a cause but one step after the other.

You might have noticed that I have gone quiet for quite some time after October last year. I fell in one of those me-myself-and-I periods, when you feel that something is maturing inside you, something that needs most of the available energies, something that is still shrouded in total darkness; but you know that when it comes out, it is like a beautiful flower bud ready to bloom.
I have decided what I want to do with my life; this is my flower bud.
Hard work on myself, loneliness and countless psychotherapy sessions with my friends and family members have definitely helped me getting my head around my needs, wishes and duties.
I am opening a gastronomical consulting business; legal and concrete details are still unsure hence the flower bud. I am working on it, working on my CV, on a portfolio, on marketing myself and ultimately on a place to live. Germany is growing small to me and how the things are moving around here they do not inspire me any hope for the future so, my aussie friends, I will be joining you soon.
To celebrate this new reconciliation with myself and life I want to celebrate my St Valentine with all of you, my friends, who have supported me through these days.
This is a little dessert that I came up with just the day when the sun started shining again and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Here I give you my:

St. Valentine’s Ricotta mousse tower with sweet-&-nutty tomato jam and a milk-chocolate ganache.

St. Valentine’s Ricotta mousse tower with sweet-&-nutty tomato jam and a milk-chocolate ganache.

Ingredients (makes 4 servings):
Tomato jam:

  • 200g fresh tomatoes, pureed with some water but not strained
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1tbsp butter
  • 1tbsp fresh orange juice
  • Red food coloring (optional).

Ricotta mousse:

  • 1 XL egg yolk
  • 3-4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Chinese rice wine
  • 150g fresh ricotta cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 sheet of gelatin, soaked in cold water
  • 1tbsp cream.

Chocolate ganache:

  • 40g milk chocolate, chopped (Valrhona’s Jivara or another kind with around 40% cocoa mass)
  • 4tsp cream.

To serve:

  • 16 butter cookies
  • Pink peppercorns (optional)
  • Gold leaf (optional)
  • Dried cherries (optional).

Let’s start with the tomato jam.
In a small saucepan mix the fresh tomato puree with the sugar and let it reduce over medium fire stirring often. At the end you should have a quite thick product without any water separating from it. Pass the jam through a fine mesh sieve and reserve to cool down.
While the tomato puree is cooking, combine the egg yolk with 2 tbsp of sugar and whip it in a bowl over some simmering water. You will need to make a sabayon to lighten up the ricotta cheese.
While the egg yolk gets whipped and heated, add the Chinese rice wine to it and continue cooking until the sabayon will feel warm to the touch and will be thick enough for you to be able to see the bottom of the bowl while whipping it. Let the sabayon reach room temperature before mixing it with the ricotta cheese.
In a small bowl whip lightly the ricotta cheese with 1-2 tbsp of sugar or to taste and fold in the sabayon little at a time. In a small saucepan warm up the cream with the gelatin sheet so to melt the latter but do not let the cream come anywhere close to a boil or you may damage the gelatin. Fold the cream-gelatin mixture into the ricotta mousse, cover the bowl with some aluminum paper or similar and refrigerate for few hours or until set.
Let’s finish the tomato jam now. Put the butter in a small saucepan and let it come to the hazelnut stage. Out of the fire, add the orange juice to it and cook again the butter till all the moisture will be evaporated. Whisk the resulting flavored hazelnut butter into the tomato jam and, eventually, color it with some red food coloring.
When you are ready to assemble, lightly whisk the ricotta mousse using a spoon; place a small dollop of it at the center of each page and place on them one butter cookie pressing it down so to hold it in place. Start building the towers spooning some ricotta mousse over the butter cookie and then placing a new one on top gently pressing it down. To have a more attractive look, try to rotate the cookies when you place them on top of the mousse so they won’t be all parallel to each other (this way the structure is also more stable). Here and there, in the ricotta mousse layer, you can place a few little pieces of dried cherries if you want.
Leave the towers for a few hours or overnight in the fridge so the cookies get soft and easy to cut through
Just before serving, melt the milk chocolate with the cream by placing them in a small bowl and then placing the latter into some hot water. Stir the ganache till well combined and drizzle it over the towers.
Using a squeeze bottle or little piping bag make some decoration on the plate using the tomato jam; garnish the top of the tower with few pink peppercorns and gold flakes and serve.

St. Valentine’s Ricotta mousse tower with sweet-&-nutty tomato jam and a milk-chocolate ganache.


  1. Such a beautiful piece, A... and so very true. Happy Valentine's Day, my friend!

  2. Great post, Al. And that looks delicious! Happy Valentine's Day!

  3. Wow totally delicious Alessio!

  4. looks great wow Australia how exciting all the best

  5. That is just so beautiful! I wish you the best of luck with all of your new endeavors :)

  6. Love it when I see you happy and back in the swing of things A...YAY for you! This is a fabulous post, and the photographs are stunning! Happy V Day Mr Man...loads of hugs!! Catch you on twitter later!

  7. Alessio! Looks wonderful and well said! I'm so happy that you have finally decided to pursue this path in life. You are destined for great and delicious things! ^^ When will you relocate to Oz?

  8. Tomato jam?! That is brilliant!! You are truly an artist with food, Alessio, and I'm so thrilled you have something beautiful and fulfilling to work towards. :-)

  9. Exciting news! I am very happy for you. I have had to learn love of self also lately. It doesn't always come easy, for some reason. But when it does, everything else seems to fall more easily into place. Bravo!

    And tomato jam sounds incredible with this dessert. Yum!

  10. 1. Your dessert sounds delicious and intriguing.
    2. Your upcoming move seems like a great fit for you. You will like the pace, weather, and opportunities of Australia, I think.
    3. I am so glad you are feeling up again. The world is your oyster, you know!
    With love, sarah. xx

  11. Ciao Ale-superb dessert. All those incredible flavors. Your photos are fabulous:)I wish you luck with all you do-always remember how talented you are.

  12. Very happy to see you're back on track. Told you it was just a matter of time. :)
    Lovely dessert, great photograph and a very happy Valentine's day to you, Al.

  13. This looks so delicious! And dear alessio,here's wishing you the very best for the future. I am sure everything will fall into place and your bud will blossom beautifully.

    Hugs to you,

  14. Aleee! I'm running short on words, so...
    in questo momento sento un sincero slancio di affetto! sono fiera ed orgogliosa di te! te lo scrivo in Italiano che se no mi arrocchetto con le parole! sono felice, fiera, orgogliosa! ti abbraccio forte!! :) Grande!

  15. Wow, what an amazing dish, colourful and delicious!
    Wishing you all the very best with your business venture Alessio, how exciting for you!

  16. What a lovely post Alessio - my favourite late-night Twitter partner! So glad that you have a new and exciting goal in life :) Love this dessert and its flavour combinations - and great pics too!!

  17. This looks incredible! It looks like a massive s'more!! I just had one of the best cupcakes ever from Crumb's and it was a s'more cupcake! I think I need to try and make this!! Thanks for sharing.