I may be one of the few people who feel this way, but I love cold weather.  This was one of the many irrational reasons I fought my parents to let me go out-of-state to Missouri for college.  I craved a real winter, getting snowed in, and bundling up for my trek to class.

Its not that I am incredibly fond of standing outside in the freezing cold with sharp wind stabbing my face, toes completely numb, but its the overall feeling I get (or got when I lived in Missouri) between October and February.  During these months I felt more alive, more awake, more appreciative of the things around me.  I think I probably had the opposite of Seasonal Affective Disorder (I get that in these Texas summers instead).

This may have had something to do with the striking fall leaves that set campus on fire, the excitement of freezing my tush off at football games, the beginning of a school year brimming with opportunity, all quickly followed by the festivities of the holiday season, but it’s my favorite time of the year and it will forever make me think of my wonderful university, extraordinary friends, and the best five years of my life.

I am also extremely fond of fall and winter fare.  Hearty soups and chilis, slowly braised meats with root veggies and mashed potatoes, holiday treats, and a bounty of apples and citrus!

Alas, the temperature always warmed bringing another summer and landing me one year closer to the real world.  Luckily the real world isn’t so bad and warmer temperatures mean lots of berries.

It’s March 31st and spring is pretty much over here in Houston, the humidity has rolled in, and the mosquitos are claiming their territory.  But this also means we already have beautiful berries.  Plump raspberries have begun dotting my morning oatmeal, I’ve been whipping up some fruit smoothies, and making this fluffy blackberry mousse.  With berries as my crutch, I guess I can make it till October or at least until the tomatoes are ready to carry me the rest of the way.

Blackberry Mousse

Makes about 4 cups of mousse.

Note:  We make a lot of different mousses at work, including a blackberry and raspberry mousse.  I don’t make them, but I like to observe.  This my interpretation of the recipe and is a much scaled down version.  I piped my mousse over miniature chocolate tart crusts, but it is also good simply topped with fruit and I bet some high quality granola sprinkled on top would be great as well.

1 10-oz bag of frozen blackberries, thawed

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled well

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combined blackberries, sugar, and water.  Bring mixture to a simmer and cook until sugar is dissolved and berries begin to break apart some.  Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender until mixture is very smooth (you can also blend in a blender, just be carful, it’s hot!).  Place a strainer over a bowl and press mixture through strainer to remove seeds and any remaining solids.  You will be left with about 1 cup of blackberry puree.  Set aside and cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and salt in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  On medium speed, whip mixture until well combined and fluffy.  Adjust speed to low and gradually pour in blackberry puree and beat until well combined.  Pour mixture into a medium bowl and place in refrigerator while preparing the whipped cream.  Clean mixer bowl if you don’t have a second one.

Pour whipped cream into mixer bowl and fit stand mixer with whip attachment.  Whip cream until fairly firm and stiff peaks form.  Retrieve blackberry mixture and gently pour it into whipped cream.  As gently and efficiently as possible, fold blackberry mixture and whipped cream together until evenly incorporated.  Mousse with keep well, covered, in the refrigerator for two days.  See note above for some serving suggestions or be creative!