November 8, 2010

chocolate mousse: trial and error

This is a lesson on how to make chocolate mousse, and also how not to make chocolate mousse. It took Jordan and I two tries to turn out an edible product for our Sunday party, and sadly, we can’t say we’re thrilled with the end result of this recipe.

Eggs, cream, chocolate … all delicate ingredients that don’t respond well to harsh treatment. We were harsh. On our first attempt, we’re fairly certain we burnt the ingredients every step of the way. The result: a chunky, grainy, chocolate goop.

A side-by-side comparison of a correct custard (smooth and creamy) and an incorrect custard (burnt and grainy).

While we successfully passed the custard stage on on our second attempt, we over-chilled the chocolate custard, which resulted in an overly dense mousse even 1.5 cups of whipped cream couldn’t save. It was edible certainly, but too rich to be throughly enjoyed.

Still on the hunt for the perfect chocolate mousse …


sunday dinner party

We invited a few friends over for a dinner party on this past Sunday and decided to attempt to conquer another recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Drizzly weather made bouf bourguignon the recipe of choice, and Jordan and I dove right in. After carefully reading the recipe, shopping, and then carefully re-reading the recipe, we began. We followed Julia’s instructions to a t (which is pretty impressive, considering how much Jordan loves to improvise in the kitchen and how detailed Julia’s instructions are) and the bouf turned out beautifully. It was moist, fork-tender, flavorful and drenched in a perfect beefy-bacony sauce. I love braised meats, but I’ve noticed that their sauces occasionally have a bitter aftertaste … well, not Julia’s. This sauce is perfect and I think we made it well.

We served the bouf with mashed potatoes and a salad of spinach, arugula, pomegranate chevre.

Conclusions: Braised meats are awesome! Although this recipe was a bit complicated and multi-stepped, it was absolutely worth the effort. Like Julia says in her memoir, and like my Nonnie says about Julia’s bouf bourguignon, if you carefully follow the recipe and don’t leave anything out the end product will be perfection.