The other morning, as if visited by a Burpee’s Golden demon, I was jarred awake with images of beets orbiting violently within my head. Boiled, charred, sliced, diced, pickled beets became tenants of my brain, and I became a man on a mission. As possession could be the only explanation, I I rubbed my eyes, walked into the kitchen, and pulled out a bag of beets and began to peel them in rapid succession, one after another, salivating over their potential. What’s strange about this scenario is not that I began cooking even before my preliminary daily pee, but I don’t like beets. Like, at all. And I never, ever, never have.
Earthy. Ask anyone their opinion on the taste of beets and I guarantee that most of them will say that they’re earthy. The second-most well-accepted postulation would be “disgusting” which I, too, had believed to be more accurately analogous for this once-believed wretched root.
The short breakdown is that beets smell like construction workers’ feet and have the funky consistency of semi-boiled potato that, when placed on the tongue, begs itself to be spit into the trash. Deer love beets, and they are constantly — almost purposefully — getting hit by cars, if that tells you anything about the logic of those who enjoy eating these abominations. So why did I pick up beets when I last went grocery shopping? Well, let me ask you this: why did I wear my hair like a young Jonathan Taylor Thomas for the majority of my pre- and post-pubescent life? Some things just cannot be explained and are better left not dwelled upon.
Nevertheless, here I was, 9 AM, chopping up beets and preparing them for god knows what. It wasn’t until I was halfway through my third beet when I got the idea for beet mousse. I suspect that I was still sleeping at that point, because…what the crap? Beet mousse?! Insane as it may seem, at that point it sounded like the march of brilliance had lit up my mind and put my fingers to work, and so I was off.
I’d boiled the chopped beets into a saucepan with a combination of 1:2 sugar and water, which when reduced made an lustrous, thick golden beet sauce which was really pleasing in both sight and taste. Post boil, I pureed the beets while reducing the beet syrup to half and let both sides cool before rejoining them once more.
Mixed with heavy cream, tempered egg yolks and a few additional hearty tablespoons of sugar. The beet mousse was, as planned, candied enough to be a proper dessert while maintaining enough of its trademark earthiness to pay proper homage to the manipulated Beta. I then layered the beet mousse between a thick stratum of white chocolate mousse to please both eye and mouth, which added a welcomed dimension of sweetness that complimented the indelicate, albeit subtle, flavor of of the beet. Finish it off with lightly sweetened whipped cream and a candied beet slice and you’ve just found a way to get your kids to eat these foot-flavored roots sans kicking, screaming and threats of emancipation.
Unfortunately this recipe called for a lot of trial and error while I was making it up, as well as quite a few steps that I didn’t document, so I can’t share the steps I took with any confidence. Also, I’d like to first perfect and smooth out the texture of the beet mousse prior to making it public, as I fear the presence of pureed beet is enough to make the consistency-conscious eaters shy away from this dessert. I will, however, provide my recipe for candied beet slices which goes just as well by itself.
Difficulty: Super easy
Serves: 3 – 5
Time: 40 minutes
- 4 medium golden or red beets
- 1.5 cups natural sugar crystals
- Peel and slice cut beets into thin slices.
- Place beet slices into a small saucepan and fill with water until it just barely covers the beets.
- Bring water to a boil and immediately lower to medium-low and allow beets to simmer for 20 minutes or until very tender.
- Pour out all but 1/3 of the water, stir in sugar, and place on stove over medium-high heat.
- Stirring constantly and gently, allow the liquid to boil and continue to stir until all the liquid has evaporated and the sugar recrystalizes.
- Immediately remove pieces to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.