Classic Chocolate Mousse in Mini Cocottes


I’ve been a lazy, slothful blogger again despite already having this post ready to go since Valentine’s Day. I’m not a big mousse fan, but these little, easy beauties provided me with an excuse to pull out my utterly useless, yet adorable Le Creuset mini cocottes. It’s amazing what little you can do with them, so any opportunity is cause for celebration. This can be made ahead a few days in advance and then dressed up just before serving. I served mine with a dollop od whipped cream with a sprinkling of cocoa powder and fresh strawberries.

Classic Chocolate Mousse

6 Servings

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  • 3/4 cup chilled heavy cream, divided
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup espresso, room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate (61-72% cacao), chopped
  • 2 large egg whites

Beat 1/2 cup cream in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form; cover and chill.

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This recipe calls for yet another excuse to pull out rarely used equipment such as the espresso machine.

Combine egg yolks, espresso, salt, and 2 Tbsp. sugar in a large metal bowl. Set over a saucepan of gently simmering water (do not allow bowl to touch water). Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is lighter in color and almost doubled in volume and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the mixture registers 160 degrees, about 1 minute.
Remove bowl from pan. Add chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth. Let stand, whisking occasionally, until room temperature.

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Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites in another medium bowl on medium speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually beat in remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar. Increase speed to high and beat until firm peaks form.
Fold egg whites into chocolate in 2 additions; folded whipped cream into mixture just to blend.

Divide mousse among ramekins or mini cocottes. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours. Do Ahead: Mousse can be made a few days ahead; cover and keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

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The serving size of these is more like two servings, not one as it would be in a ramekin.

Before serving, whisk remaining 1/4 cup cream in a small bowl until soft peaks form; dollop over mousse.

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Felted Valentine’s Day Garlands


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My newest fascination is with wool felt balls. Why? Because they are adorable, inexpensive, and make my home festive. I bought 200 in multiple colors just before Christmas to string for garland for the tree. I loved the garland SO much that I decided to purchase more in Valentine’s day hues.

I ordered the felt balls online from TaDaaStudios and I have to say, the packaging is adorable.

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I strung up a few shades of pink with white and hung them in the kitchen…

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Detail of the embroidered heart
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Side view of the garland draping on the bakers rack

…and on the menu board…

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…and I can’t help myself, so I’ll share with you AGAIN, my fabulous felt Valentine’s Day calaveras (skulls) from last year–though I couldn’t do them justice being housed in Amman.

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…and since I’m on a roll, I’ll just add one last Valentine’s day touch in the kitchen…another embroidered tea towel.

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Happy pre-Valentine’s day and stay tuned for my next Easter garland.

Will Run for Cupcakes


I’m training for an upcoming relay race–a very LONG, overnight, tiring run. Years ago, when we were still living in San Clemente (and living the fantasy), a storm called Sprinkles Cupcakes hit us hard. So hard were we hit that Raj used to leave work early on Fridays (let me clarify so as not to upset someone–this was considered physical training, PT, so it was a sanctioned, early leave from work) for what became known as the ‘Sprinkles’ Run.’ I suppose this ‘run’ isn’t as bad as it sounds, I mean he was burning calories by running, right? Raj would meet up with a small group of ‘work’ friends and fellow cupcake enthusiasts who set out on a five-mile run followed up by a jaunt into Sprinkles for a cupcake or two. Well actually, he’d call ahead and have a dozen cupcakes in various flavors (an on a good day, a shot of frosting for me) waiting to be picked up for himself, and me, and our dog Shanti. (Sprinkles makes great doggie cupcakes called ‘pupcakes.’) I could never meet up for these runs because I was too busy working, supporting the habit,…but that was a lifetime ago.
These days, I’m too busy looking for things to do. In honor of Raj’s ‘cupcake runs’ and because Valentine’s Day is just two days away, I decided to make these Sprinkles’ Strawberry Cupcakes.
I thought they turned out great. I was nervous about getting the frosting just right as the reviews on MarthatStewart.com were horrible–the frosting is runny, there’s not enough liquid, too much liquid, it’s disgusting…EXPLETIVES were seen in TWO reviews; it was that bad, seriously. After reading the reviews, I fought the urge to spend way too much money on imported, Betty Crocker “Strawberry” (artificially) flavored and brightly colored frosting at the grocery store. With trepidation, I continued on. It did take a few minutes in the mixer for the butter and powdered sugar to come together, but eventually they did. The frosting was perfect and slightly pink thanks to the addition of the REAL strawberry puree that I added.
Next up on the worry list was frosting the cupcakes. I don’t like the look of piped cupcakes (not home-made enough looking) and I prefer the dimpled look of Magnolia Bakery’s cupcakes to Sprinkles’. I was relatively happy with my attempts. In the course of my cupcake research yesterday, I read that it takes about forty hours of on the job cupcake frosting training to get the ‘dimple’ just right. I only have about 38 hours of training left to go.

Lastly, I added a few pale pink sprinkles that I’ve been hording in the larder for years (unsure why, courtesy of Nicole’s trip to Rome), along with a homemade heart-shaped sugar cookie (recipe which will be posted, next).

Sprinkles’ Strawberry Cupcakes

This recipe for strawberry cupcakes is from Candace Nelson of Sprinkles Cupcakes.

The recipe comes from The Martha Stewart Show, February Winter 2008

  • YieldMakes 1 dozen

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • Sprinkles’ Strawberry Frosting (follows)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. Place strawberries in a small food processor; process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree, add a few more strawberries if necessary or save any extra puree for frosting; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
  5. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
  6. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

Sprinkles’ Strawberry Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup whole frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners’ sugar; beat until well combined. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree (save any remaining strawberry puree for another use); mix until just blended. Do not overmix or frosting will incorporate too much air. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.