I can’t say I’m particularly choosy with my affections; there are lots of things that I love. All the Holidays fall into this category, as do half of the seasons. I love food (all of it), I love wine (most of it), I love my friends, I love my cats ( and dogs too), I love my family. I love thunderstorms and blue skies and snow. I love the ocean and I love the mountains. I love New Orleans and Chicago and New York and San Francisco (I do not love L.A.). I love peanut butter and chocolate and anything that combines the two. I love birds. I love sushi. I love the smell of bergamot. I thought I didn’t like blueberries, but slowly I’ve come to love those too. I love bright nail polish and tall boots and hoop earrings (always have, always will). I love short skirts. I love about 1000 tv shows, some worthy, some not (it’s a weakness). I love books and I love my magazines, even though I barely have enough time to read them each month. I love a dinner party. I LOVE a themed dinner party. And I LOVE a Oscars themed dinner party.
Awards shows, they also make the list. Of course, the red carpet coverage before the show ever starts is debatably the best part. When else do you get to do nothing but judge, judge, judge, (envy) judge? This year I decided to throw a viewing party. The idea was simple, but so much fun: each guest had to choose a best-picture movie nominee and bring an hors d’oeuvres based on that movie. Yeah, it’s a tad dorky, but I’m blessed to have a group of friends that loves to cook and will totally embrace cheese like this.
There was a make-your-own champagne cocktail bar, complete with creme de cassis, pear nectar, blood orange sorbet, sugar cubes and bitters. There were pimiento sandwiches and sweet tea with bourbon (The Help), kahlua pork with pineapple fried rice (The Descendants), a pizza decorated like a clock (Hugo), deviled eggs (The Artist), chicken and olive empanadas (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close- this one deserves more explanation. In the words of the cook, the whole movie, the little boy is looking for something, so she made the empanadas because there’s a secret inside. Lol, creative!!), cracker jack cupcakes (Moneyball), and fish cakes (War Horse). I took two movies, the Tree of Life for which I made a dish I’ll tell you about later in the week, and Midnight in Paris, for which I made my mom’s dark chocolate mousse.
When I was a little girl, my parents would throw these big Christmas parties. One of my most vivid memories of these parties actually comes from the day after… sitting in front of the open refrigerator, eating leftover chocolate mousse from a tupperwear container. What stands out most in my mind, aside from the fact that once I started eating this stuff I couldn’t stop, was that amongst the dense, creamy mousse were nestled little chunks of soft ganache which were never quite mixed in. I loved these little treasures. They made this mousse my mom’s mousse.
Looking back now, as an adult, a few things strike me about that memory. One, my pallet must have been crazy-advanced for my age, because this is no fluffy, child-friendly mousse. There’s espresso in there and quite a lot of Grand Marnier. Which leads me to two: I probably had no business eating that boozy, caffeine-filled goodness as a child. The fact that I did eat it may partially explain my enduring love for alcoholic desserts and just might have something to do with my slightly liquored leanings. At minimum, it definitely, definitely explains why dark chocolate mousse falls on my “I love” list nowadays. Sure, it may not be the most exclusive list you’ve ever seen, but with treats this decadent in my life, why should it be? It’s my list and I love it.
Dark Chocolate Mousse
I have no idea where this recipe come from, so apologies if it’s stolen from somewhere. Serves ~8.
This mousse contains raw eggs (lots of them), so if that bothers you, you’ll need to find another recipe. I used Guittard chocolate chips, because, well, they’re amazing. They melt like a dream and are extremely high quality. I would recommend using a good-quality chocolate for this; the Grand Marnier Deserves it.
1 1/2 lb semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c prepared espresso
1/2 c Grand Marnier
4 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1/4 c sugar
8 egg whites
pinch of salt
1/2 t vanilla
- In a small heavy sauce pan over very, very low heat, melt the chocolate chips, stirring constantly. Add the coffee and stir until smooth
- Remove the chocolate from the heat and stir in the Grand Marnier. Let cool to room temp (but not cooler! It was too cool in my kitchen, which caused the chocolate to get a little too hard. My kitchen has temperature control issues)
- When the chocolate has cooled, add the egg yolks to the chocolate one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition
- In a medium bowl, whip one cup of heavy cream with the sugar until stiff peaks form
- In another medium bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form (make sure your bowl and beaters are clean- oil will make your egg whites fall). Gently fold the egg whites into the whipped cream
- Stir 1/3 of the cream/egg mixture into the chocolate to loosen them. Stir them vigorously until smooth!
- Gently fold the remainder of the cream and egg into the chocolate. Be gentle so that you retain as much of the lightness and volume as possible
- Whip the remaining 1 c heavy cream until soft peaks form. Serve the mousse with a dollop of whipping cream