I'm not a big shopper nor do I take extravagant vacations, but when it comes to eating—whether I'm eating at home or going out—I am not shy about self indulgence.
I love going to restaurants by myself—you will often find me dining solo at the bar with enough plates in front of me to feed at least three people. The same principle applies to eating at home. Instead of making do with some week-old leftovers, more often than not I'll get something really good to eat: cheeses, charcuterie, a nice steak, and a bottle of wine. Since I find eating a pleasure, whether it's with a group of friends or by myself, I make sure that my solitary meals are never sad or lonely affairs. When I cook for myself I make meals that are not only delicious, but big enough to share.
Browsing through the pages of Deborah Madison's What We Eat When We Are Alone, I was struck by the fact that there were so many dessert recipes. As happy as I am to make a meal for myself, I have never taken the time to assemble a homemade dessert. I may buy a few pints of artisanal gelato or a perfect miniature pie or pastry from a reputable bakery, but to make a dessert just for me? The thought has never even crossed my mind.
But why not? I've made chocolate mousse many, and it takes less time than bringing a pot of water to boil for pasta. Making a dessert for you, and you alone, is a wonderful and simple indulgence. This Chocolate Mousse with Cardamom is a dessert that anyone would be thrilled to eat at a restaurant that has "special occasion" written all over it, yet you can make it at home in about an hour, and most of that hour is the time that is spent cooling in the fridge. The best part about making chocolate mousse at home is that you end up with a big bowl of chocolate mousse. The recipe advises to distribute it into four dishes, but I'll leave that up to you.
Win 'What We Eat When We Eat Alone'
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of What We Eat When We Eat Alone to give away this week.
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 ounces dark chocolate
- 2 tablespoons water or coffee
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Cream, or not, for serving
Beat the egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the sugar and beat until smooth and firm, but not dry or hard. Leave the whites in the bowl with whisk.
Put the chocolate, water, and cardamom in a 1-quart bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted, then turn off the heat and remove the bowl. Quickly whisk the egg yolks into the chocolate, then add the butter and stir it until it disappears. If it seems to be taking a while to melt, return the bowl to the pan of hot water to speed things along but without turning on the heat. You don't want to risk cooking the eggs.
Once the butter has melted, go back to the egg whites and whip them for a few seconds to bring them back together. Fold them into the chocolate mixture, then divide everything among dessert dishes and refrigerate. It will set in an hour or so.
To serve, either pour the cream over the top so that each bite of mousse comes up with some cream in it, or whip until it's soft and airy, sweeten it with a teaspoon or two of sugar, then pile it over the mousse.