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dark and light and snowy white

Oregon’s a temperate place. It gets a bad rap for the sheer volume of rain, and it’s true that we do get our share. But it’s rarely blistering hot here, and rarely bone-biting cold. We don’t get blizzards in winter and we don’t have rolling black-outs in  summer. (We don’t even have many bugs here!) Oregon’s quite a gentle place to live.

 Spend a late spring, an entire summer (excluding the month of June when rain, every year, surprises us despite the fact that every year it comes), or spend early Fall in Oregon and you’ll leave thinking there’s something very like paradise about this place. You’ll leave, but dream of coming back. You’ll leave, but you’ll never ever forget the green!

In the winter though, it rains grey and gloomy many days. We Oregonians don’t take sun for granted, and I rather like that about us. We talk about it, with anyone who will listen. Strangers converse on what a beautiful day! We lift our faces to the sky and smile. We do so love the shining sun here!

And when it snows, some of us adults can’t be distinguished from the giddy kids who are missing school days, sliding on their saucers down hills, shrieking at the top their lungs, making snow angels when they land at the bottom. Some of us adults stand at the window in awe of how pretty the world is when powdered with white, how every thing that lives shapes itself differently with snow on it. Some of us adults breathe sad sighs to see it melt so soon. We didn’t quite get our fill, but the beauty is: we didn’t grow weary of it either.

It’s snowing here this morning. And one of those adults I just referenced is me. One of the things I love about snow here is that suddenly, much of that glorious green is lost for the time being and what we have is a world bright with contrast. Trees stand almost black against the whitest of whites. To my eyes (that adore color) this is starkly beautiful.    I     love     it .

It seems so fortuitous and fitting, that on a snowy morning I’d be whipping snowy whites of eggs into peaks. So fitting that I’d be melting, over a steamy water bath, the darkest of chocolates. And that together they would come to form the most glorious of simple desserts…chocolate mousse with a dollop of whipped cream!

It’s funny to me that I only made mousse two or three times when my girls were young, yet for years (and maybe still) they remember it with awe. So for my girls, for whom I didn’t make mousse nearly often enough, and of whom I’m a bit in awe, I whip this up for you, dear ones. (But, lucky for me, and some others, there’ll be enough to share!)

Chocolate Mousse

will serve 8

  • 16 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate
  • 12 ounces unsalted butter (3 cubes)
  • 6 large eggs, separated, plus 3 additional egg whites
  • salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • whipped cream (optional – but hey, you’ve come this far, so why not?)

In a double-boiler, or in a ceramic bowl sitting over (but not touching) gently boiling water, warm the chocolate and the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally until just melted. Let cool slightly.

Either in a medium copper bowl (so French and so amazing at whipping egg whites) OR in the chilled metal bowl of your standing mixer, combine the 9 egg whites with a pinch of salt and whisk until semi-firm peaks form. Gently fold in the sugar, and set aside. (This will take about 8 to 10 minutes in copper, a few minutes in a standing mixer.)  (The bowl was a gift…how could I not use it for this classic French dessert?)

In a separate bowl whisk the six egg yolks until they reach a pale yellow color. Gradually add some of the melted chocolate into the yolks, whisking well to incorporate the chocolate (you don’t want to cook your eggs, so proceed especially slowly at first.) Continue slowly adding the remaining chocolate  until fully incorporated.

Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mousse into a porcelain 4-quart dish and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.  If you prefer, you could spoon the mousse into individual serving cups.

To serve: Spoon onto plates and serve with slightly sweetened whipped cream to which has been added a small slurp of vanilla.

 

~ ~ ~

We eat, for the most part, well and healthily in our house. This dessert is nothing at all if it’s not naughty. I’m convinced though, that sometimes it’s utterly and forgivably good to be naughty! So…bon appetit! (And don’t do this often!)

ps…this is the first of several desserts that strike me as desserts for lovers,

leading up to

♥Valentines Day♥

23 Comments Post a comment
  1. Deb schneider #

    I miss being home in oregon’s snow after seeing your photos. Perhaps making the delicious sounding mousse will be added to the agenda of 4 chocolate lovers here. It sounds scrumptious!

    January 15, 2012
    • What fun to try this for your chocolate lovers. They’ll swoon!
      Our snow is nearly gone already Deb, but we’ll be getting a bit more between now and Tuesday. Aren’t you seeing some of this in NYC?

      January 15, 2012
  2. We have had snow arrive early this morning as well, spree:) If only your lovely dessert were sitting on my kitchen counter right now. Beautiful post, I love how you tie everything together.. I had trouble reading the recipe because I couldn’t tear my eyes away from your stunning photos… that chocolate.. those chunks… my goodness it was a lovely time visiting you today!

    January 15, 2012
    • And Smidge, I’m thinking – If only I had YOU in my kitchen today! 🙂 Thanks for your sweet comments!

      January 16, 2012
  3. Ali #

    This remains one of my favorite desserts and you’re right a total memory from childhood. I remember vividly seeing those beautiful long stemmed glasses filled with all their mousse glory in our refrigerator and feeling so special that there was actually one for ME! Oh and, as always, I love your writing and photos here!

    January 15, 2012
    • Ali I think you’ve hit upon something – hearing that you remember the tall glasses in the refrigerator, one just for you – serving something, even something more ordinary than mousse, in a champagne glass has a way of elevating the dish and making someone feel very special to be served it. I wonder why I never though to serve you that cream of zucchini soup this way? 😉

      January 16, 2012
  4. Nothing quite so beautiful as the first snowfalls of the season.Funny how ugly they can become when they continue to arrive 8 weeks later. As a chocolate lover, your mousse looks decadent, your lovely photos provide the evidence, but chocolate mousse could never be naughty — at least I’ve never seen proof of it. And the same goes for vanilla pudding. It would appear that the proof of their naughtiness is not in the pudding … or mousse. 😉

    January 15, 2012
    • Touché Chgo John! You are too clever for words! 😉

      January 16, 2012
  5. Nice thoughts and lovely pictures of the squares of chocolate – I was thinking of shooting them myself today. We’ve got a deep frost outside of our windows and something with chocolate would be good to make.

    January 16, 2012
    • It’s true – something about the warmth of chocolate takes the chill out of winter. I wonder what that is and i wonder what you’ll be making…I’ll be watching for it.

      January 16, 2012
  6. Beautiful prose and beautiful photos – and yes, a truly romantic dessert. No snow here for us yet, but finally RAIN which actually make dry old Andalucia very happy indeed.

    January 16, 2012
    • Thanks you so much Chica Tanya! I lived in a place once where it very seldom rained – and I literally dreamt of it and ached for it. And when the land around you is thirsty, rain is such a welcome thing! So you DO get snow in those Spanish mountains – there’s a lovely thing to imagine!

      January 16, 2012
  7. Oh my, cannot remember last time I made this, the 80s I think! Fab photos, your pics always make me want to COOK! Lucky you to have snow, we live in mild maritime climate as well, snow is rare, but the sun is here, so life is good.

    January 16, 2012
    • My pics make you want to cook? Well, that’s a good thing! And your pics make me want to fly, on my own wings! 🙂

      January 16, 2012
  8. pete clemente #

    You’ve got the touch! Beautiful segue to the magic of your recipes.

    January 16, 2012
  9. Crossing our fingers that we make it out to Willamette this year! Great post and recipe as always.

    January 16, 2012
    • Oh I hope you do, Greg, and if you do, we would LOVE to have you and Katherine to dinner!

      January 16, 2012
  10. I had a wonderful summer holiday in Portland once. It didn’t rain, there was sunshine everyday and I imagined Oregon to be the most perfect place to live. So green, pretty and charming.

    January 16, 2012
    • Happy to hear she treated you well while you were here. Portland can be quite a spell-caster when she’s in a mood to. 😉

      January 16, 2012
  11. Oh my, how did I miss this yesterday?! From the photos to the story and from the descriptions to the memories, I felt so very warm, cozy and loved reading this. Thank you for that ode to Oregonians’ appreciative spirits in matters of weather, too — I so agree! How often you echo my thoughts. We must eat this together sometime! Xoxo

    January 16, 2012
  12. Val #

    Last year we had unprecedented snow, this year an early spring. You can’t rely on the weather here but chocolate mousse is always welcome!

    January 17, 2012
  13. Oregon is heavenly. I’m a native Washingtonian and while my current life in Texas is wonderful I will always love any opportunity at all to hit the left coast, from BC on down. Heavenly! And oh yes, chocolate mousse is just as delicious as the beautiful west!! What a grand post. It’ll keep me smiling for days–and probably coming back for seconds . . .

    January 20, 2012

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