whip it, whip it good: cheese soufflé and chocolate mousse

Happy Chocolate Mousse Day! This greeting changed the course of my day and here’s how: I was minding my own business editing recipes just after lunch when Chocolate Mousse Day was announced via My Sweet Addiction‘s latest blog post. Easily distracted when it comes to such things as chocolate mousse, I clicked over and learned that April 3 was indeed officially National Chocolate Mousse Day. Brilliant! To celebrate a classic dessert like chocolate mousse with its own day just seemed right. After putting the thrilling news up on deLizious’s facebook page, I returned to work, reasoning that my client may not see National Chocolate Mousse Day as an excuse to extend my deadline.

Fast-forward to supper and I was thinking pork chops. A search for said chops turned up empty (they’re in the freezer somewhere, I’m sure of it), so eggs were next on my list. But how to prepare? The chocolate mousse I’d been envisioning all day became my cooking muse as I pictured whipping lots of air into eggs to make a soufflé. It was an unusual path for the cooking muse to take me as it’s been a decade since I’d made a soufflé. But the idea took hold and I gamely found a recipe (from Richard Sax and Marie Simmons’ most excellent Lighter, Quicker, Better) and hit the kitchen.

whipping egg whites for the soufflé with vintage rotary

whipping egg whites for the soufflé with vintage rotary

The recipe called for more steps than I usually take in evening meal prep, but I knew the steps were there for a reason so went ahead and made the wax-paper collar for the soufflé dish and boiled water for a water bath. I came up short in the ingredient department: my cream of tartar container was empty (yes, sadly I really do have a container for cream of tartar) and I messed up with the eggs using one yolk instead of two. In the end, I was happy with what went into the oven and looked forward to impressing my girls with a lofty soufflé.

broccoli florets sprinkled on top before baking

broccoli florets sprinkled on top before baking

Alas, the wax-paper collar was a waste of time as my soufflé did not reach the impressive heights I had hoped for. But it was still pretty, airy, savory, and made a fine entree. I’ll wait for a more successful attempt to share the recipe as the result couldn’t be what the authors intended.

this soufflé did not rise to great heights

not rising to great heights

soufflé plated up

soufflé plated up

After the soufflé had gone into the oven, that mousse was still on my mind. When googling National Chocolate Mousse Day (research was needed to establish credibility, yes?), I’d found Melissa Clark’s recipe, which called for just chocolate and water. Intrigued, I had to try. Twelve ounces of chocolate-rum melting wafers (purchased long ago at a bakery supply store and finally finding a use) melted down with 1 cup water. Next, the mixture was transferred to a bowl set in an ice bath, then beat 5ish minutes until achieving the chilled, light, and airy consistency that is chocolate mousse. I couldn’t resist adding a dash of vanilla and when I did, the mixture firmed up. Perhaps adding another liquid catalyzed the mousse making?

No matter the how and why, my mousse was everything I wanted it to be: rich but light, sweet but dark, dense but creamy. I’m still marveling that all that was needed was chocolate, water, an ice bath, and some muscle. (I’m partial to my grandma’s hand-me-down rotary egg beater, but an electric mixer would have made it effortless.) The recipe source had suggested folding in a whipped egg white for extra lightness, but I liked the denser consistency of using only chocolate and water. A sprinkle of fleur de sel added texture and flavor.

1-ingredient chocolate mousse

1-ingredient chocolate mousse

While I understand the value of meal planning, I also appreciate the opportunity to make it up on the fly. When I woke up this morning, I had no clue that learning of a foodie “holiday” would determine the course of my evening meal. But with an open mind (and a full pantry), anything is possible.