Chocolate mousse has been a go-to dessert for years, but when I saw this version on Bon Appétit last week, I realized I hadn’t had it, or made it, in some time. When I worked in restaurants, it was often part of my daily prep routine, and the simple actions of whipping cream and egg whites instantly bring me back to those days. So after a long and busy weekend, I whipped up a batch as a sweet reward.
If I still had my pastry chef hat on today, I would make a rosemary-orange caramel to go underneath the mousse and maybe fry up some rosemary as a garnish. But since this mousse is just for me (and to share with friends, I promise!), I’ve kept it simple. I swapped in brown sugar for a slight caramelly flavor, and made it lighter and fluffier by doubling the egg whites; if you want a denser mousse only use two. I’ll probably top it with some of that Choco-Coco granola for texture and call it a day. No matter how you serve—with whipped cream, inside a tart shell, along with cake—it’s a simple way to share something sweet with your loved ones, perhaps this weekend. Enjoy and Happy Valentine’s Day to all! Read More
Baking is a tricky little art. Reading a recipe seems straightforward enough. Measure ingredients, mix together, and bake. These simple instructions should create the perfect cookie, batter or dough. Mix those ingredients too much (over creaming them) and you are left with lacy, crunchy cookies or an overly, aerated batter. Under-mix the ingredients and you have cake-y cookies and batter with bits of butter and sugar about it. Butter too cold: that dough won’t cream the same. Water not warm: no elasticity in your dough. Misread a recipe, skip over a step, forget an ingredient, and the whole thing may go down; way down into the garbage, a causality of pastry battles. Every element’s handling is vital and a change in each can garner a different result. Of course this means the same recipe could turn out different numerous times, and getting it right often may just be luck. With so many elements and so much to concentrate on, pastry certainly is a tricky art.
Getting over these adversities means being meticulous. Reading a recipe thoroughly before beginning it. Measuring and measuring again every ingredient. Studying text on how ingredients work together and how each should be handled in order to produce the desired result. Working at it, practicing over and over again in order to master the minute skills of art. Trying to understand failures and working to improve recipes in the future. Those without the lucky touch of a pastry chef who seems to always get it right must work at it. The perfect cookies, beautiful bread, and smooth custards will be all the reward needed for the hard work pastry can be.
Of course, even if the elements are right and all the ingredients are accounted for, even then a recipe may fail. A poorly written recipe may be the cause, which means back to the testing board to try again. Was the oven too hot? Were the eggs too cold? Was there enough flour? Should the tart shell be par baked? Should the butter be room temperature? All these details can be vital in perfecting a recipe, and this becomes the focus of those dedicated to pastry and to their recipes. Frustrating as it may be to turn out cakes or candies that are not quite right time and time again, it is these tests that create tried and true recipes and teach the intricacies of the pastry arts. So although it may be difficult, trying at it over and over again is the way to win the pastry battle and create the perfect cookie, cake or dough.
Look forward to more thoroughly tested recipes and pastry battle wins coming soon.