Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy Birthday, Julia!

As a young wife and mother I began cooking meals on a regular basis. My earlier vagabond traveling lifestyle allowed for experimentation in many food fads. However, my Julia Child cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” traveled from the east coast to the west coast and back again. Along with a few other treasures packed in cardboard boxes, it was jammed into my yellow VW bug for the journey. Once settled into our stable household, it became a regular source for my cooking. My young daughter loved cheese souffle, quiche with ham and leeks and Boeuf Bourguignon. My son preferred chocolate mousse and classic roasted chicken with herb de Provence to any more complex French concoctions. The first flourless chocolate cake I made came from Julia Child. And Steak Diane...well, it had my name all over it! I watched Julia Child on PBS as she came to us from 15 miles away through the airwaves. It was real and alive with her singsong voice and exuberant ways. She drop kicked perfection out of the door, and invited in fun with her rich butter and cream filled meals.

In honor of her birthday, I thought I’d make her Chocolate Mousse. I knew I’d have plenty of teenage boy's mouths willing to celebrate her day. In many French restaurants, Chocolate Mousse is often served alongside a Mother Bowl to spoon this light confection from. I think next time I’ll have to make a larger bowl!

Chocolate Mousse
(Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck)

4 egg yolks
¾ cups superfine sugar
¼ cup orange liqueur

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 tablespoons strong coffee
6 ounces softened unsalted butter
Optional: ¼ cup orange zest, very finely grated

4 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

In a 3 qt. mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until mixture is thick, pale yellow, and falls back upon itself forming a slowly dissolving ribbon. Beat in the orange liqueur. Then set mixing bowl over a pan of not-quite-simmering water and continue beating for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is foamy and too hot for your finger. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Then beat over cold water for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is cool and again forms the ribbon. It will have the consistency of mayonnaise.

Melt the chocolate with coffee over hot water. Remove from heat and beat in the butter a bit at a time, to make smooth a cream. Beat the chocolate into the egg yolks and sugar, then beat in the optional orange zest.

Beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks are formed. Add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Stir one fourth of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and then fold in the rest, being careful not to deflate the mixture. Turn into dessert cups and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Bring to room temperature before serving. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Makes about 5 cups, serving 6-8 people.

Happy Birthday, Julia! Thanks for the memories.

Chocolate Mousse recipe (pdf)

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