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!)
will serve 8
- 16 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate
- 12 ounces unsalted butter (3 cubes)
- 6 large eggs, separated, plus 3 additional egg whites
- 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.
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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