Minimalist Chocolate Mousse

There’s a wicked good friperie / thrift store near-ish to my house, with four floors of treasures, much turnover, fancy fresh curios, big city-level castoff fashion, (bakeware!), AND lots of books, which is important.  I’ve slowed down a bit recently, but I spent a lot of the last year snorkelling for excellent children’s literature one dog-eared retro Seuss-ible at a time.  And every trip there, on the way out, I would cast an eye toward the adult books and every single time I would find something interesting in seconds with magnet-sense.  Like buying a little impulse candy bar, except something for my grownup brain to nosh on in the endless hours of nursing small baby life.

IMG_0547Once I found French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon, which was a fun read that doubles as a rural French travelogue and also a somewhat guidebook to raising children to be little mini gourmands (ooh!), and there’s recipes!  Some of the ideas are too far out for me, like I could never NOT SNACK or PREVENT TODDLER-SNACK?? (eek), but there’s lots to inspire therein and I’ll probably re-read it again once Muffin hits grade school and maybe starts desiring to eat little fruity dinosaurs and cheese poofits all day.

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Le Billon writes of this chocolate mousse as one of the first slow food desserts she put in front of her daughters; a simple recipe that French families make often, calling for just chocolate, butter, eggs, and a pinch of salt.  There are complex mousses out there, and I’ve made them, but honestly you don’t need to do much to good chocolate to make it into a perfect dessert.  A hint of zested orange gives it a nice depth, and it has that bubbly, sticky, intensity that one desires in mousse, with almost zero work.  Everyone wins!  Including busy people!  Chocolate dance party!

Minimalist Chocolate Mousse

Le Billon recommends approaching this recipe with calmness and focus.  Gently melt the chocolate and enjoy the aroma.  Lose yourself in the egg whites’ thickening.  Watch the swirls of light and dark get all stormy nebulaic together.  You can afford to get zen about it, it’s the work of mere blissful minutes.

Serves 6

  • 8 ounces (227 grams) semisweet chocolate (something around 60% dark will give good results)
  • 4 teaspoons (20 grams) unsalted butter
  • 6 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • zest of ½ orange
  • pinch of salt

Gently melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, or carefully melt it in the microwave.  Let it cool, then stir in the egg yolks and orange zest and combine fully.

In a large bowl, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they reach stiff peaks.

Gently fold ⅓ of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it up.  Then fold in another ⅓, and then the last ⅓ until there are just a few whispered streaks of egg barely visible.  Pour the mousse into 6 waiting ramekins and chill, covered in plastic (without touching the tops of the mousse) for 2 – 3 hours.  Serve with fruits, lightly sweetened whipped cream or little crisp cookies.

Coffee Fudge

IMG_0239-2.jpgSo my first two weeks back at work have been clarifying, gratifying, and good for shaking off the last traces of lethargy that had settled in my body after a year off in babyland.  The pace can feel sometimes like air traffic control, the shifts can run from noon to midnight, there’s always something that can be better organized… and it feels like a beloved old boot that fits just right and I’m hitting the ground running.  There are also some new additions to the menu that I can’t help but want to test variations of at home. Continue reading

swedish butter cookies with chocolate ganache

Cardamom Butter Cookies w. Mocha Ganache

IMG_5529Do you ever choose a recipe just for the chance to break out a piping bag and challenge yourself to get closer to swirly perfection (never attainable, but always fun to try)?  Gosh, I adore piping things out, I should really get a job at a bakery one of these days….

The inspiration for these cookies also came, I must admit, from hanging out on my sister’s couch watching – for the first time! – The Great British Bake Off.  There’s something about those technical challenges, where each contestant has the same recipe and must execute perfectly, that just fires me up so much!  One of the first episodes I saw had them piping out dozens of identical sandwich butter cookies, and I think I was already in the kitchen before the show ended, cause, butter cookies!  With shapes! Continue reading

chocolate peppermint candy crack

Peppermint Chocolate Candy Crack

candytower1

My one giftee this year loves minty chocolate, and that kind of candy I can pull off without shopping flurry.  It’s easy enough that I’ll hardly explain the process (and I’m also itching to jump back into bed and steam-roll over his loafy sleeping body so I can open my presents which includes  a DURIAN, merry merry, merry Christmas!). Continue reading

The Turquoise Lasagna (aka Carebear Pie, aka “Diabetus” aka what happens when Lucky Charms Marshmallow Treats go way over the deep end)))

layer of Lucky Charms marshmallow treats

gourmet jellybeans
more marshmallows
milk chocolate
dark chocolate
peanut butter granola
Blueberry muffin Mini Wheats
moremarshmallows
cinnamon
FrootLoops
milk chocolate covered raisins
Heritage Khorosan wheatie flakes
marshmallows
sprinkles
grey salt
Honeycombs

tada!

This was a bad idea at inception.  This was a untold extravagant success and/or mass room-mate-icide attempt at the hands of an over-drunk me and Cloudy.  This was Friday night made manifold and manifested into a glucose patty of hideous candyshop proportions.

Weirdly, it actually tasted good.  *shakes head in utter disbelief*

Basically I wanted to make Susan Feniger’s millet puffs at 10:58 at night – a healthy (kinda) track that got a bullet train smashed right through it – explosions ensued obviously – mostly when I spied the Lucky Charms for sale at the grocery store.  Two minutes left ’til closing and with 3 of the 4 major players in hand (butter, marshmallows, cereal… only candy is missing.  so far.), we ran home and built a quick recipe of the timeless marshmallow treat.

But… wait.  It’s not right.  It’s too sweet. Man, this sucks.  Well let’s put it in a pan anyway.  Hey wait.  Just a second *runs runs runs to her room*  *laughs manically while cascading a giant bag of jellybeans over the pan*.  Can we do this?  Is this allowed?

*more rummaging ensues*

Basically the entire contents of my candy drawer AND cereal closet get pored over, cracked open, sprinkled, crushled, jammed and dotted with little bits of butter and left in a low oven for 20 minutes, creating….

um, basically the best late-night snack food ever.  It only took us 6 days to finish it, is all. :)