Whip it up

I love homemade desserts.

Actually, they are the only ones I eat.  I literally refuse to eat (almost all) store bought baked goods and desserts.  There are a few exceptions, but I could count those on one hand.

This snobbery has saved me many empty calories over store bought cupcakes and stale two-bite brownies.

I would like to thank my Grandma and Mom for making such amazing desserts and baked goods when I was little that they ruined me for all future run of the mill, mass-produced confections.

Of course, when people come over to our house, I have to make a fabulous dessert.  

It's kind of my thing.

If I'm going to be a snob, I at least have to step up to the plate to show people what they are missing out on when they buy store made pie and cool whip and call it dessert.

We recently had my cousin and his family over to dinner and I was trying to come up with a fall dessert.  

I had two problems: one being that I have ruined Chris- he is so used to having home made desserts, that he was "bored" with the usual selections.  Second was that we were having a heavy main course and needed something light to finish off the night.

I turned to my favorite place for some recipe inspiration.

The Internet.

I'm not sure what we all did before the Internet, but I don't want to go back to those times.

My favorite thing is to search around and find a few recipes that look good, then put my own twist on them.  This practice has served me well in the past and it still is yet to disappoint.

I casually threw out the notion of chocolate mousse, and Chris was instantly in love.

I've never made mousse, but I hoped it wasn't too difficult.

I searched around for a good and easy recipe and nixed a few just because I didn't have the ingredients on hand.  I then nixed a few more because I didn't have a candy thermometer (gotta put that on my Christmas list).

I ended up with this recipe (from here) because it seemed simple and I liked everything in it.  Of course, I added and tweaked it a bit to get this:

Chocolate Mousse Recipe

  • 4 1/2 ounces bittersweet Trader Joe's Dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 tablespoons espresso or very strong coffee (I used decaf espresso from a local Starbucks)        1 tablespoon brewed coffee & mixed it with 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 2 tablespoon sugar I like it a bit sweeter, so doubled the sugar
1 Whip the cream to soft peaks, then refrigerate. I added some vanilla (about a tsp or so) to my cream before I whipped it.
2 Combine the chocolate, butter, and espresso in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not simmering, water, stirring frequently until smooth in a pan on the stove over low heat.  Stir constantly. You may want to add another tablespoon of sugar if you like it a bit sweeter. Remove from the heat and let cool until the chocolate is just slightly warmer than body temperature. To test, dab some chocolate on your bottom lip. It should feel warm. If it is too cool, the mixture will seize when the other ingredients are added. This trick worked really well.  I ended up having to heat it back up a bit to get it warm again because I had let it sit too long.
3 Once the melted chocolate has cooled slightly, whip the egg whites in a medium bowl until they are foamy and beginning to hold a shape. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat until soft peaks form.  This step was tricky for me.  I didn't whip the egg whites enough before I added the sugar, which made them un-whippable.  So, I had to start again with new eggs.  Whip until the eggs are holding shape, then add sugar and whip a bit more.

These were the bad eggs. No peaks in sight.
4 When the chocolate has reached the proper temperature, stir in the yolks.  First gently stir in about one-third of the whipped cream. 

Fold in half the whites just until incorporated, then fold in the remaining whites, and finally the remaining whipped cream.
Just get the eggs and cream incorporated without over mixing
5 Spoon the mousse into a large ziplock bag and cut off the tip.  Pipe the mousse into a serving bowl or individual dishes.  

I used stemless martini glasses for serving dishes
 Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. (The mousse can be refrigerated for up to a day) Serves 4-6, depending on the size of the servings. I made 4 martini glasses from this amount of mousse- which seemed perfectly sized.

How cute!
While the mousse was chillin' in the fridge, I whipped up some extra whipped cream to top them with (I also added sugar and vanilla to the whipping cream).  Then, since I wanted to fancy them up a bit, I looked around the web for a delicious sauce topping.

I wanted to bring the coffee and rum flavor to the forefront without over powering the whole dessert.  I was able to find a pleasing sauce here.

Coffee rum sauce made by of the Boulder Coffee Examiner
1 cup fresh-brewed coffee I just brewed 2 cups when I made the mousse
1 cup sugar
¼ cup of dark rum
½ cup chopped walnuts I didn't want nuts in mine
I also added about a tablespoon of corn syrup to thicken it up
Combine coffee and sugar in saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until it boils. Boil for 3 minutes, then remove from heat. Let mixture cool. Stir in rum and walnuts. My sauce took a while to thicken up, but I added a bit more sugar and brought it to another boil and then it was just fine.  I turned off the heat, then warmed it back up an hour later when we were ready to eat.  I drizzled this over the mouse/whipped cream for a burst of flavor.

Let the sauce cool a bit before pouring it over the mousse so it doesn't melt it
It was a big hit, and the martini glasses made the perfect bowls.  I find that martini glasses are one of the most versatile cups.  I use them to hold nuts at parties, desserts, soups, pretty much anything (including drinks).

The galsses were all scraped clean, and if I had have had any extra mousse saved in the fridge, I wouldn't have hesitated to dig into it later that night.  So good.

If you are having a holiday get together, this was pretty easy (beside the egg debacle) and you can prepare the mousse in the morning and it will be prefect for dinner!

Happy holidays and happy eating!