D and I aren't big on Valentine's Day. Forced romance and overpriced, heart-shaped dinners aren't our thing. However, I'll take pretty much any excuse to indulge in chocolate, so that, I'm on board with.
It's also my 30th birthday, which means I can do whatever I want. Right? Chocolate for all!
We celebrated with a couple close friends at a lovely, lovely dinner on Saturday night. This coming weekend, we're taking a ladies' trip to Spa World to celebrate three birthdays at once. But tonight, after a low-key dinner with the lady, I'll be spooning out a couple small bowls of this magic chocolate mousse, which requires only 2 ingredients (salt is optional) and tastes as decadent and as thoroughly chocolate as a good chocolate mousse should. 30 years of living and 2-plus years of marriage later, I've got more than a few gray hairs, and also a wee bit of combativeness about the wonder of chocolate. So I'm going to indulge; you only live once.
For the vegan and non-dairy inclined, this mousse can be made with chocolate and water. I prefer milk in my mouse, so I've used that here. Your choice. Either way, the process is dead simple: heat, then whip over ice water. That's really it.
And if you're feeling mighty adventurous, whip up a batch of caramelized white chocolate (which, incidentally, just got written up as a genius recipe by Kristen Miglore over at Food 52; it really is genius) and use that instead.
The recipe is below, and if you're curious to see a play-by-play, watch the bubbly and adorable Melissa Clark demonstrate the technique here.
I've got a couple other half-baked ideas percolating that don't yet merit a full post, but as a wise old woman of 30, I've decided to post them anyway. Food for thought.
- Bake or Break has been in my Google Reader for years, but recently, I've gotten hooked on it all over again, and spent several afternoons digging through her archives. One recent recipe that I immediately flagged was her Italian Jam Crostada, a simple simple dessert made of shortbread, jam, and almonds. Last night, I finally got around to making it. I had about a tablespoon of orange marmalade left over from the croissant I'd had at Patika in Austin (sidebar: when pastries come with jam and you don't finish it, save it; you never know when it'll come in handy), so I folded that into the shortbread dough, and then used fig jam mixed with some lemon juice as my filling. The result was fantastic, and I'd urge you to make this with whatever jam you have lying around.
- Tartine Bakery makes the best croissant I have ever eaten. The almond croissant I had in SF was so good that I got home, went right onto Amazon, and ordered their latest cookbook, Tartine Bread. I've got bread books from Peter Reinhart and Jim Lahey; I didn't exactly need another. I bought this book for the croissant recipe alone. Here's the irony: I still haven't made the croissants. What I have done is totally change the way I feed and use my sourdough starter. Tartine's method calls for less starter overall (which means less flour used on feeding each week) and a smaller portion of seed starter to make a loaf of bread. The smaller quantities suit my erstwhile approach to bread baking, and the new ratio produces a younger, milkier, less acidic-tasting loaf. I'm thrilled. And I haven't even made the croissants yet! More fun awaits.
- Last but not least, I've become obsessed with chia pudding. Chia seeds look like a cross between poppy and flax seeds, they're high in fiber and omega-3, and best of all, they plump up in liquid. Add a few tablespoons to a cup of milk, and in about 10 minutes, you'll have something that resembles tapioca pudding. I've added them to my breakfast rotation, mixing a few tablespoons with a cup of either milk or yogurt, a bit of honey, and some chopped fruit. I pour the whole thing into a jar, and by the time I get to work, I've got pudding. It's great. You can get chia seeds at health food stores or online.
And hey, happy un-birthday to you! The kind folks at Shabby Apple have created a giveaway just for NDP readers: they're offering 10% off of any Shabby Apple apparel for all readers using the coupon code notderbypie10off. Even better, one lucky reader will win a $100 giftcard to Shabby Apple. Check out all these adorable aprons! Personal favorite: blackberry pie.
Entering is really easy. All you have to do is "like" Not Derby Pie's facebook page, "like" Shabby Apple's page, and leave a comment below. I'll pick a winner at random next Monday, February 18th. Good luck!
Hervé This' Chocolate Mousse Serves 4
One note about using milk: if you use skim, you can disregard this. Skim has the same fat content as water. But if you use milk with some fat in it, you may need to add a few more drops than you would otherwise. a scale is very helpful in executing this recipe, but if you don't have one, I would start with what looks like a bit less than 3/4 of a cup, and only add if necessary. The melted liquid should have roughly the thickness and texture of whipping cream (go figure). If it thickens too quickly when you put it over ice, just remelt, add a few more teaspoons of liquid, and march on.
8 oz. high-quality chocolate 6 oz. water or milk (roughly 3/4 cup - see headnote) ice cubes whipped cream for topping, optional
Pour water into a small saucepan, add chocolate, and stir over medium heat until chocolate has melted and you have a homogenous sauce.
Put the saucepan into a bowl partly filled with ice cubes and a half-cup or so of water (or pour into another bowl over the ice -- it will chill faster), then whisk the chocolate sauce by hand (or, if you must, with an electric mixer) until a mousse forms.
No, seriously. That will happen.
Spoon immediately into ramekins or serving bowls, top with whipped cream if using, and either serve immediately, or let set in the fridge before serving. If you're feeling crazy, sprinkle a bit of flaky salt on top. Grand.
I made this once a couple years ago and it failed, but I've since made it three times (all this week) with success. Kristen says that three things can go wrong: if the mixture doesn't set, it probably doesn't have enough chocolate. Remelt, add more chocolate, and whisk again. The opposite can happen, too - a very stiff mouse would benefit from a bit more water. Remelt, add water, repeat. Lastly, if your mixture is too grainy, you overwhipped it. No problem: just remelt and whisk up again - no need to add anything.