On Christmas Day I was a little melancholy. I don't think that I am alone in that feeling. There was a wistful nostalgia for Christmas past, a feeling that I could never really get traction on the holiday spirit this year, and well, we are just exhausted from the past few months.
After trekking across Eastern Europe for the past week, yesterday we just stayed put. We relaxed, caught up on reading, napped, and watched a few Christmas movies. We checked in with family far away and snuggled up to the ones nearby. And then after dinner we laughed great rumbling belly laughs which is the best medicine!
We traveled to Prague with friends and Julie has been feeding us well this week. Yesterday she made a variation of some short ribs that she had made for her husbands birthday a while back. Instead of the ribs we picked out a pork shoulder and it was excellent. We also ate potatoes mashed with celery root and Emmenthaler, green beans and roasted radicchio. Those were separate dishes by the way, that would be some sort of funky mashed potatoes if you included the beans and the radicchio. It was as always a lovely meal. To finish, I made a chocolate mousse. I wanted something crunchy to offset the mousse and while Julie and I were closing out Marks and Spencer I found some Dark Chocolate and Ginger Florentines. They were perfect, the almonds paired well with the Amaretto liqueur in the mousse and I just think that ginger and chocolate play nicely together.
I followed the recipe from Jamie Oliver's website but didn't serve the mousse with the cherries and sesame cookies. Other than an unfortunate, but not disastrous, mishap with what I thought was whipping cream (It was half and half which does not whip, and the grocery was closed. In my defense I don't read Czech) the mousse came together easily and with out a lot of fuss.
Life changing? Well I think that may be asking a lot of the mousse, but it was really, really, very scrumptious. Now if you are game to make your own Florentines I'd give this recipe from The Curious Baker a whirl. In fact, I'm planning on it.
Delicious Chocolate Mousse
From Jamie Oliver
300g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
8 large eggs, preferably free-range or organic
100g caster sugar (4½ heaped tablespoons)
300ml double cream
2 tablespoons good-quality cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
2 packs of sesame snaps
400 grams of dried sour cherries
1. Place the dark chocolate and a tiny pinch of salt in a heatproof bowl and sit it over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. Leave to slowly melt, stirring occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, separate your eggs so you have the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. Add the sugar to the bowl of yolks and beat until the sugar has dissolved and its silky and smooth. Whisk the whites with a tiny pinch of salt until they form soft peaks – you should be able to hold the bowl upside down over your head without them falling out! In a third bowl, beat the cream until slightly thick and just whipped.
3. Once the chocolate has melted, carefully lift the bowl out of the pan. Add 75ml (3 shots) of amaretto and the cocoa powder to your bowl of yolks and mix well. (I did not have cocoa powder, I used an additional 200 grams of dark chocolate melted to the egg yolks) Tip in the cream and mix again, then fold through the melted chocolate until it’s well combined and a gorgeous colour. Finish by tipping in the egg whites, and then keep folding, from the outside in in a figure-of-eight until the mix is smooth and evenly coloured. It will look a bit dodgy at first, but trust me it will come together. Spoon or ladle the mousse into a big serving bowl or divide between little glasses or cappuccino cups and pop in the fridge for an hour or two until set.
4. Just before you’re ready to serve, give the mousse a lovely dusting of cocoa. Pop your dried cherries in a small pan, add a wineglass of amaretto then top with enough water to cover. Put on the heat and bring to the boil, then turn the heat off and leave to stand for a bit. This will bring the cherries back to life. Leaving them in the packet, bash up your sesame snaps in a pestle and mortar. Tip them out, and break up any larger bits that are left so its nutty with a caramelly kick and a bit of a crunch. Serve this in the mortar next to your chocolate mousse with a bowl of those beautiful cherries on the side so everyone can dig in and help themselves. It may look a bit rustic, but honestly, it’s the best chocolate mousse I’ve ever tasted!
Cooks note: The only changes I made were as follows. I did not have cocoa powder, I used an extra 200grams of dark chocolate (70% Lindt) and I did not serve this with cherries and the sesame snaps. I garnished the mousse with Dark Chocolate and Ginger Florentines from Marks and Spencer, but make your own, you'll be glad you did.