Friday, July 27, 2012

Elegant Decadence

My mother, everyone will tell you, was an elegant woman. She did things with style. We ate dinner with good silver and fine china every night. She and Dad served dinner at the table, he carving and she spooning the veggies. Everyone waited until all were served to begin eating and good table manners were emphasized. As kids, we chafed at the idea of dressing for dinner and all that folderol, but looking back I think it was a good idea. Life has gotten a lot more casual these days, and we have lost some grace.

Her dinner parties were legendary - she made a complicated meal look easy and always served things she could make ahead so she could spend time with her guests. Whenever her name comes up among people who knew her, her elegance is what they mention first.

What they mention second is how delicious the food always was at her parties. She was a good cook but she rarely shared her recipes. When you live in a small community like the Navy, if you give away your recipes, you eat the same things at everyone's parties, and not everyone gives credit where it's due. I don't know how she refused gracefully but no one seemed to harbor a grudge when she said no. She would share them with us kids, but always extracted a promise not to give away the recipes. 

Well, Mom, I'm going to share this one anyway - it's too good to keep it under wraps. (Plus, she's in heaven now, so she won't mind). 

I served this the other night when I had a delicious rotisserie chicken dinner, lovingly tended by the master of the house, with Sari and Jeff at their new digs in Alameda. They kindly invited me over for dinner when My Beloved was out of town on business so I offered to bring dessert.  

It was Bastille Day, so I wanted to make something French.  When I looked in my recipe box, there it was in my mother's beautifully rounded handwriting - Mousse au Chocolat. What could be more Gallic than that? I had never made this recipe before so I was a little uncertain but it sounded easy and I figured I could always stop at a bakery later if it didn't work out.

Not only did it work out wonderfully well, they asked for the recipe after the very first bite. It was as easy as it looked - laughably simple, in fact - and it was very elegant served (as Mom's recipe suggests) in her demitasse cups. She got these cups as a wedding present back in 1938 - even then, Tiffany was using its distinctive blue.

Next time you are looking for a taste of decadence to end a delicious meal, consider making this recipe for Mousse au Chocolat. It is so rich that this diminutive portion is exactly right. Still, we reduced the elegance quotient considerably by using our fingers to capture the very last smears of mousse from the bottoms of the cups. Mom would have been horrified and gratified at the same time.

Mousse au Chocolat, from Dot Wright via Floss Hyland

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Guittard)
1/2 cup milk (I used half-and-half as I had no milk in the house)
1/4 cup strong coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
2 Tablespoons sugar.

Whipped cream 
Chocolate shavings

Heat milk and coffee to a boil, adding sugar and stirring until it dissolves. In a blender or food processor, put chocolate chips, add hot liquid mixture and blend. With blender or processor running, add egg and, at the end, vanilla.

Pour into demitasse cups or very small ramekins and refrigerate until the mousse sets up, at least three hours. Top with whipped cream (I used very lightly sweetened whipped cream with a driz of vanilla as it whipped) and chocolate shavings.

I made chocolate shavings by using a vegetable peeler to shave the edge of a chocolate bar onto a piece of waxed paper, then sprinkled them over the cream.


Blogger Hungry Dog said...

Your mother does indeed sound like an elegant lady. And this chocolate dessert sounds equally elegant (and delicious). Definitely going to give this a try.

Have a nice weekend, Zoom!

Friday, July 27, 2012  
Blogger Greg said...

Oh yum yum!

Friday, July 27, 2012  
Blogger namastenancy said...

You used your fingers? I would probably had licked the cup. Gorgeous photo which does your mother proud. As for manners - eh? When it's good, Go For It!

Friday, July 27, 2012  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Hungry Dog, it's as easy as it sounds - literally takes minutes to make.

Greg, and another yum from me!

Nancy, well, truth is that the cups are too small to lick - only fingers fit in. :-)

Friday, July 27, 2012  
Anonymous jann said...

OMG. Makes me want to go out and buy that chocolate NOW. :) Sinful.

Saturday, July 28, 2012  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Jann, I'll make you some next time you come down. You'll be happy.

Saturday, July 28, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh me, oh my. I do love chocolate mousse. And the French do it oh so very well. Sounds like your mother did, too. I am a sucker for chocolate. You really shouldn't have told me such an easy recipe for chocolate mousse. I mean... now I'll make it. Oh despair, my thighs... your doom will soon arrive.

Sunday, July 29, 2012  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Yesteryear, the portions are so small in this recipe that they really aren't a big threat to your waistline - as long as you stick to one...

Sunday, July 29, 2012  

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