This is a strange and pretty wonderful day, but it’s also just another day.
I mean: my cookbook is released today! I spent all of last night in a flux (not a flux capacitator, I wish, 80s Michael J Fox on whom I still crush, call me!) of feelings, from the obvious excited to the also obvious terribly nervous, but generally settling on a strange blank overwhelmed kind of place. I’m very hard on myself, and I’ve wanted this so much, for so long, with every bit of energy I have, and it’s finally happening. But then it’s also just another day and I have to go to work and deal with invoices and stuff and so does everyone else.
Okay, I just deleted an enormously introspective paragraph which included phrases like “running so hard” and “knowing myself” and which not only would’ve put off anyone from reading any further, it also got dangerously close to inadvertently quoting word for word the theme song from Party of Five. So. I will try this again. Forgive me, it’s just…I’ve never had a cookbook before, I’m still working out what it’s like and what you do and so on.
I’ve never had a cookbook before. Until today. Huh. It is a big deal. So, I raise a glass to myself.
A nervous toast, but still.
When I wasn’t taking self-deprecating Instagram selfies last night, I was also making chocolate mousse. Not the powdered mousse from a packet, foodstuff of my childhood, which you whip up with milk to produce a small quantity of dusty-textured, faintly chocolate-flavoured slurry. The mousse here requires some effort and logistics, which I enjoy – much as emphatically basic recipes are wonderful, I also like to make things that involve lots of steps, on account of I really enjoy cooking and tinkering round in the kitchen. So I don’t apologise for this recipe being slightly fiddly, as that’s what chocolate mousse requires.
I do apologise for the fact that a lightbulb blew and so the only place with any decent light at all was this table, and even then the photos are a bit hopeless. If this insults your eyes so, you could always, um, buy my cookbook which is full of incredibly beautiful photos shot by my friends Kim Laurenson and Jason Aldous, styled by my friend Kate McLeod. That’s right I’m high-fiving myself for that smoothly unclunky segue into self-promotion. And that’s right I’m shaking my head baffledly at self-promotion of self-promotion within a blog all about myself in the first place. What a world we live in! Especially now that the world contains my cookbook. Gotcha again.
I kinda made this mousse recipe up, but it doesn’t deviate from any classic interpretation of this French confection. There’s whisked up egg yolks, there’s melted chocolate, there’s cream. I didn’t add the egg whites, as I don’t like the presence of tooooo much raw egg, and I prefer the flavour of cream. I added brown sugar to give a little caramelly darkness to the chocolate, but it honestly didn’t change the flavour outrageously, so you could just use plain white sugar. But whatever you do, it’s important to keep the following in mind:
- Have all your ingredients ready, so that none of them are sitting around for too long.
- If you can access free range eggs, they are a lot better here than the other kind – the yolks tend to whip up thickly and easily incorporate the other ingredients, and that spooky raw egg flavour disappears quickly.
- There will be one point – before you add the cream – where it will all look very unlikely and you might find yourself thinking things like “omg this mousse has failed and no-one will buy my cookbook and here is a slide-show of everything I have ever done wrong in my life”. BUT. Once you add the cream, a little at first and then the whole lot of it, the mixture will mousse-ify and thicken and turn into something completely, soothingly recognisable.
Most important of all, is that it tastes incredibly wonderful. The cocoa bitterness of the dark chocolate is dispersed through all that cream, each making the other more delicious.
Silky, satiny, velvety, it is in fact like every cool fabric there is available. Fortunately not one part of it is wooly, though. There is a slight hint of sugar-grit in it, which I don’t mind, as this simply reminds me that this is very homemade – also there’s nothing I can do about it, so I might as well attempt to embrace it. If you leave it overnight in the fridge however, the sugar dissolves entirely and it all gets even more traditionally mousse-ish and puffy in texture (I just scooted to the fridge to verify this by eating some.) Either way, it’s chocolate delivered to you in a glossy, aerated mass. It’s so good.
a recipe by myself. Makes enough for two generous serves, plus some leftover for breakfast the next day. Or: three generous serves. Or: etc.
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
150g dark chocolate
It’s very useful to have more than one person working on this. You don’t want tooooo much time to pass between each step. That said, I mean, mine was delicious, and I had such time passing.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks for a minute, then add the sugar and continue to whisk until it thickens and aerates into a thick, moussy, pale caramel-coloured substance. Melt the chocolate gently, and stir a little at a time into the egg yolk mix. Make sure you stir it thoroughly, so that any residual heat from the chocolate doesn’t cook the eggs. It will likely thicken into a scarily stiff paste at this point, but the cream will sort it out. Finally, whisk the cream till thickened but not whipped – sort of your ‘good quality thickshake’ type texture – and stir it thoroughly into the chocolate mixture. Add a little cream at first to slacken the chocolate mixture, then add the rest and whisk hard. Divide between your receptacles and allow to sit in the refrigerator for fifteen minutes before eating.
The thing is, I saw these cups on sale at Supreme Coffee and my first thought was “oh wow I love pink and grey they would look adorable filled with chocolate mousse.” Usually whenever I make something with aesthetics first in mind – that is, will it look cool on the blog? – the recipe obstinately never works out, and I learn a lesson about the importance of friendship or something. But this time the mousse did work out, I suppose partially because wanting chocolate mousse is not simply an aesthetic thing. Chocolate mousse is seriously amazing and delicious. Phew, though.
So now what?
I sit and wait and see what happens, I guess. My cookbook, Hungry and Frozen, is in shops from today and all I can say is that I hope people like it as much as I do. Also that people don’t go on an introspective mental trip through the journey it took them to get there like I do every time I look at the book. You…don’t want that.
One more thing: oh wow, last week was ridiculous. Specifically the time when I dropped my precious, precious cellphone down an eighth-storey lift shaft to its doom, and also on Friday when (with a new and devastatingly expensive cellphone in hand) I experienced a very large earthquake at work. Almost worse than the quake itself was walking down the seventeen flights of stairs at work to get to the ground to try and meet Tim, who’d been evacuated from his work. From the tenth floor down, it was pitch black. Had to use every particle of my body to try and stop myself having a panic attack. Luckily, while the quake was really big, no-one was hurt, and I managed to find Tim fairly quickly. Our solution was to go meet friends at the pub. My body’s solution is to insist it’s feeling earthquakes every five minutes. Sigh. At least I had my phone on me. Am I a bad person for hoping there’s no earthquakes this week to distract from my cookbook? For what it’s worth, I never want any earthquakes to happen ever, so there’s that.
While my book is released today, on Tuesday night is the LAUNCH PARTY. Because I’m a real author! If you happen to be in Wellington that day consider yourself super welcome to come along. (Click the link to see the invite.) (Click here to see it too, just in case.)
Cookbook day! I have a cookbook! Remember when I got the call to say that Penguin were definitely going to publish it? How far I’ve come. I am so, so tired. Hope you like the book. Time for me to eat some chocolate mousse and get ready for work. Because it’s just another day. But it’s also THE day.
title via: Idina Menzel singing The Wizard and I in the musical Wicked. Sigh, swoon, all the exhalations and faints.
Cat Power, Satisfaction. A foxy, laconic cover of the Rolling Stones song.
The Last Goodbye, The Kills. I keep telling Tim this will be our first dance at our wedding. He’s not quite convinced.
Marvin Gaye, How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You). Isn’t it, though? Isn’t it?
Next time: I’ll probably still be talking about this cookbook. Wouldn’t you?