Illustration by Kristy Heilenday
Raspberries are everywhere; they’re on all five continents and can even be found in the Artic Circle. There’s evidence that raspberries were consumed as far back as the Paleolithic era. The Romans most likely spread them around Europe, and the Europeans brought them to this country. Of the four types of raspberries — red, black, purple and yellow — only the black raspberry is native to North America. The first cultivated plants were sold in 1771 in Virginia.
What to Buy
Raspberries are fragile, so check that none are crushed. You don’t want to see any specks of mold, because by the next day, your berry container will be subbing for a science experiment. If you aren’t eating them immediately, store them in the refrigerator — but not for too long. Raspberries are only good for another day or two after that. Rinse gently with water right before eating.
How to Prepare
Raspberries make great jam — with or without seeds. They’re a solid member of a mixed berry pie or tart, can get crazy in a salsa and are a fragrant addition to cocktails. Here’s the thing about raspberries, though: It’s very difficult to get them past your mouth and into the dish you might be making. Giving up and eating them unadorned is probably the best strategy.
Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cups with Fresh Mint
Makes 6 dessert cups
Positive Vibe Café owner and the executive director of the Positive Vibe Foundation, Garth Larsen, shares one of the café’s recipes for a decadent dessert.
- 2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons of solid vegetable shortening
- 1 tablespoon (1 envelope) of unflavored gelatin
- 1/4 cup of cold water1/2 cup of boiling water
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1 1/2 cups of fresh raspberries
- 2 cups of whipped cream (1 cup of heavy cream, whipped)
- Fresh mint
To make the chocolate cups: Heat the chocolate chips and shortening over high heat in a small saucepan, stirring continuously until melted. Using the back of a metal spoon, spread the chocolate evenly inside six 3 1/2-inch foil muffin liners. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
To make the mousse: In a bowl, sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the cold water and allow it to absorb the water for 2 minutes. Add the boiling water and stir until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Add the sugar and stir until it’s dissolved. Transfer the gelatin mixture to a blender. Add the berries and blend until they’re liquefied. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the mixture through to strain out the seeds. Refrigerate until thickened.
Rinse the blender of any remaining raspberry seeds and return the thickened raspberry-gelatin mixture to it. Add the whipped cream and blend until smooth. Refrigerate again until thickened.
Carefully peel away the foil from the chocolate cups. Spoon the mousse into the cups and top with fresh mint. Serve.