Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Mousse

It would have been cool to call this post Monday Mousse, but alas, I did not get my act together enough yesterday to blog. C'est normal.  At least it is for me on Mondays.  Maybe Monday mornings are no big deal for some out there, but no matter how much work I do over the weekend, I still feel behind on Monday mornings just as soon as the first bell rings at 8:00 am.  Oh well.
Sunday afternoon, I made la mousse au chocolat.  I found a very simple recipe in Clémentine in the Kitchen by Samuel Chamberlain, a book given to me by a former student's parents (I wrote a recommendation for him for AFS, he was accepted and is now living in France for the year!  Very brave thing to do at the age of 16, n'est-ce pas?)  I love this book.  It is set in Senlis, France, where my dear friend, Mme M, lives.  I have spent a lot of time there and know it well.  It is the story of an American family who moves to France and hires Clémentine as their cook.  She feeds them very well and has notebooks full of handwritten recipes.  Towards the end, she gets married and although the Beck family is very happy for her, they are forlorn at the thought of life (and meals!) without her.  The young son of the family wrote the book and included quite a few of her recipes.  Merci, monsieur!
I wrote the recipe on the white board.  I encourage my students to learn to cook.  And this is a great place to start.  The most famous of French desserts.  I think that the ability to whip up a bowl of chocolate mousse is a necessary skill and one that would, no doubt, get a person a second date.  Wouldn't you agree?  Or charm mom on Mother's Day?  Or win over a brother or sister after losing something that belongs to him or her?  I am sure there are other situations when this would come in handy.
Here is the melted chocolate, mixed with water, with the beaten egg yolks mixed in.
And here it is as I am mixing in the beaten egg whites.
The eaters in my house really liked it.  At least the evidence would support that.  I found empty cups in the sink...
And to gather further evidence to support Clémentine's claim -- "This is the simplest recipe for chocolate mousse you are likely to find and also likely the best," I decided to bring some in for Mr. T, one of the agents de sécurité at school.  He brought me a Wendy's Frosty one day so I decided to return the favor.  (And it always smart to stay on his good side, for protection's sake!)  A little while later I found the clean bowl and spoon in my mailbox.  He sent an email "The chocolate mousse was excellent.  Thank you!  I am ready for my next assignment as food tester."  Quel gentilhomme!  Happy eaters are the best.

La Mousse au Chocolat
Serves 8

(from Clémentine in the Kitchen by Samuel Chamberlain; Modern Library, 2001)

Bittersweet chocolate, eggs, rum or vanilla

In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt 1/2 pound of bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces, with 1/4 cup of water.  Stir until it achieves a beautifully smooth consistency. Remove the top of the double boiler from the heat and stand it in cold water to cool, stirring occasionally.
Beat well the yolks of 5 eggs and add these to the chocolate, together with 1 teaspoon of rum or of vanilla extract.  Transfer the chocolate mixture to a large bowl and carefully but thoroughly fold in 5 stiffly beaten egg whites.  Put this delectable substance into a serving bowl or individual ramekins and chill at least 2 hours before serving.
Note:  This is the simplest recipe for chocolate mousse you are likely to find and also very likely the best.  You must, however, use chocolate of the finest quality.  Also, use very fresh eggs, or the mousse may separate.

Bon appétit to all my eaters!

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