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Strawberry and Champagne Terrine
Makes 12 servings

2 pints (1 1/2 pounds) strawberries
2 to 4 tablespoons superfine sugar
3 1/2 gelatin sheets, soaked in cold water to soften
3 tablespoons Champagne
Pinch of Kosher salt

1 1/4 cups Champagne
3 gelatin sheets, soaked in cold water to soften
3 1/2 tablespoons superfine sugar

1/3 cup creme fraiche, whipped
Small mint leaves

Refrigerate a few strawberries for the garnish. Hull the remaining
berries and let sit at room temperature overnight to dry them
slightly and intensify the flavor. [I didn't have time to do this,
so I didn't.]

The following day, puree the strawberries and strain the puree
through a chinois using a small ladle to help move it through the
strainer. Measure out 1 1/4 cups of puree. Add sugar to taste;
the puree should be on the sweet side, but the amount will vary
according to the quality of the strawberries.

Squeeze the excess water from the gelatin and place the sheets in
a small saucepan with the Champagne. Warm gently, stirring to
dissolve the gelatin. Mix it into the strawberry puree. Add the
salt.

Place 6 tablespoons of the strawberry puree in the bottom of a
small metal bread pan or mold about 5 inches by 3 inches, with a
2-cup capacity (choose a pan with the straightest sides to keep
the layers the same thickness; If your pan flares at the top, use
a little extra for each layer as necessary to compensate, keeping
the layers the same thickness). Allow the puree to level out and
fill the bottom of the mold evenly. Refrigerate the mold to allow
the puree to set completely.

While the first layer sets, boil the Champagne for a minute to
remove the alcohol, skimming off any scum that rises to the top.
Measure out 1 cup of the Champagne (discard the rest). Wring out
the gelatin sheets and place them in a bowl. Stir the hot Champagne
into the gealtin, then stir in the sugar to dissolve. Let the
Champagne mixture cool to room temperature.

When the strawberry layer is set, top it with 6 tablespoons of the
Champagne mixture and refrigerate until set. Continue the layering
process until you have three layers of strawberry and two of
Champagne. If you used a straight-sided pan, there will be a little
extra of each mixture. Should either of the mixtures set up before
you are finished, gently heat them over a saucepan of warm water
just until the soften.

Using a #12 melon baller, cut small parisienne balls from the
reserved strawberries for garnish.

Quickly dip the mold into hot water to loosen the terrine. Unmold
onto a cutting surface. Using a hot knife (dipped in hot water
and wiped between each slice), cut the terrine into 1/2-inch slices
and place in the serving dishes. Garnish each dish with a few
strawberry balls, a quenelle, or small oval scopp, of whipped creme
fraiche, and some small mint leaves.

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