2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup ruby port
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 shallot, minced
2 thyme sprigs plus 1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 cups strawberries, hulled (2 pints)
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
2 tablespoons water
One 11-ounce log of fresh goat cheese, softened
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
Crostini and toasted walnuts, for serving
- In a saucepan, bring the wine, port, black peppercorns, shallot, thyme sprigs and 1 cup of the sugar to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Using a moistened pastry brush, wash down any sugar crystals on the side of the pan. Cook over moderate heat, without stirring, until syrupy and reduced to 1 cup, about 35 minutes. Strain and discard the solids. Let the caramel cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, toss the strawberries, orange zest, water and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and let stand until juicy, about 30 minutes.
- Bring the strawberries to a boil and simmer over moderate heat until slightly thickened and jammy, about 15 minutes. Transfer the compote to a bowl and let cool.
- In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the goat cheese, cream, ground pepper and chopped thyme until creamy. Spoon the mousse into a bowl and serve with the compote, caramel, crostini and walnuts so guests can assemble their own.
Make Ahead: The caramel, strawberries and mousse can be refrigerated separately for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- Appetizers, Crostini