Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chocolate Mousse and Valentine's

 I have been submerged in chocolate for the last two and a half weeks, and while it is a delicious and satisfying treat, it is time to step back. But, before I do, I want to leave you with a delicious and amazing chocolate recipe.
I was reading my Bon Appetit magazine when I came across Andrew Knowlton's recipe for chocolate mousse. Well, I guess it's Julia Child's recipe. As a quick side note I would like to say I am very glad he cut his hair and shaved his beard. I admit I was surprised to see a handsome face under all that hair, as it has been my assumption that men hide their faces with hair when they don't like what they look like or have unsightly, small lips. A habit that I am sure women would take advantage of if it wasn't socially unacceptable for us to have facial hair.
Back to the mousse. I work late every Thursday, and would be unable to spend the entire day cooking a fantastic meal for my husband for Valentine's, which I would regularly do. I decided that in spite of the opposition I would still make a special Valentine's dinner for us and I would make as much of it as I could ahead of time.
Enter Chocolate Mousse.
I am a fan of chocolate. I am a fan of custard. I am a fan of the delicious union of custard and beaten egg whites, hence, mousse. So you can see the natural attraction I had to this recipe, with the addition of the fact that the entire thing is made in advance and stored in the fridge. Most of the ingredients I had readily available. Win.
You make the custard, allow it to cool, fold in beaten egg whites and whipped cream. And if I hear you say, "That sounds like a lot of work." I will have to choke you because it is less work than baking a cake and frosting it and nobody every complains about that.
It is amazingly delicious and rich without being overly sweet. The recipe calls for coffee, and since I love the flavor I added a bit of espresso powder for some added bitterness and coffee flavor. I'm definitely tucking this one away for dinner parties. It is the perfect dessert because it is impressive, stunning, absolutely delicious and just needs to be topped with whipped cream when you are ready to eat it.

Chocolate Mousse
(from Bon Appetit with minor alterations)

Makes 6 servings
Plan for 2 hrs chill time

3/4 cup chilled heavy cream, divided
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup strong coffee, room temp
dash of salt
3/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
3 Tbsp. sugar, divided
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, or 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 large egg whites

Beat 1/2 cup cream in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form. Cover and chill.
Combine egg yolks, coffee, espresso powder, salt and 2 Tbsp. of the sugar in a large metal bowl. Set over a saucepan with 1 inch of gently simmering water. Cook, whisking constantly for about one minute, until the mixture has doubled in volume and looks lighter.
Remove the bowl from the pan and add the chocolate, whisking until melted. Let stand until room temperature, whisking occasionally.
In another bowl whisk egg whites with the whisk attachment of a hand mixer until foamy. Add the 1 Tbsp. remaining sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form.
Using a spatula, fold egg whites into chocolate in two additions. Fold whipped cream in.
Divide mousse among six ramekins, cups, or parfait glasses. Chill until firm, two hours minimum.
Before serving whip remaining 1/4 cup cream and spoon onto mousse. Garnish with chocolate shavings if desired.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Parmesan Rosemary Popovers

I find that bread is one of the most comforting foods of all. Warm, soft, and chewy, with that little bit of crunch on the edge satisfies all of my cravings in one bite.
Popovers are no exception to this rule. If a muffin and a cheese souffle fell in love and had a baby, it would be a popover. It is light and fluffy, just like a souffle, but with a dense, toothsome quality that you would expect from a muffin. Slathered with butter and accompanying anything with gravy they kick biscuits to the curb. I have been dying to make popovers for quite some time now, but I waited because I didn't have a popover pan.


I know nobody ever tells you that, but it really is. I have included directions below to accommodate the pan-less. If you want a quick dinner, make a pot of soup or, even better, beef stew, and throw these on the side. The come together in a snap and seem decadent and special. Any add-ins you can think of will transform these to perfectly compliment your dinner.
Just writing about these right now is making me crave a mid-morning snack of warm popovers with butter and homemade strawberry jam...

If YOU don't have a popover pan, simply cut the recipe in half and use a muffin pan. They don't rise as high, but don't let that stop you from making this fast and delicious bread. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 400 for 15 more minutes.

Parmesan-Herb Popovers
2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 450. Grease the popover pan as desired. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and divide between the popover pan.

Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for 15 to 18 more minutes, until they are a deep golden brown.

Enjoy immediately...as if I even need to say that.

For classic popovers, omit the cheese and herbs and double the salt.

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