Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Mousse

My parents generously took us to dinner on special occasions throughout our lives: Birthdays, sacraments, graduations. We were lucky children to have dined at restaurants here in Westchester like Crabtree's Kittle House. as the food and memories were untouchable and have stayed with me so vividly even now, in some cases nearly three decades on.

The Kittle House, as it is called locally, is a rambling old structure which includes the original tavern rooms, the inn, and in the back, the expanded dining room and gardens below. It has always managed to be embracingly cozy, familiar, and twinklingly well-dressed all at once. No other dining room of its ilk in this corner of the room holds the same loving sparkle for me. And the dessert long served there, the Triple Chocolate Mousse, has been a favorite of mine since childhood.

It was a nostalgic attachment to this tower of sweet mousses which lead me to attempt this feat for dessert to be served at my Mother's house on Christmas Eve. I used Alton Brown's Chocolate Mousse recipe and repeated the task three times: First with dark chocolate, then milk, finally with white chocolate. I used no liquor as I do not care for that edge in my food. In the milk and white chocolate layers I replaced the liquors called for with the same amount of milk, in the dark chocolate later I used equal parts heavy cream and strong coffee. This is a fine recipe to use as it is one of the easiest gelatin preparations I have found. However, while it was so rich as to definitely need the Melba sauce I served along side, I missed the eggy-mousse-iness of a traditional French preparation.

Because the method was gelatin-based, the dessert also required more than an hour at room temperature before serving to allow the layers to loosen to a consistency which even resembled that of a true mousse: After three days of prep and the use of piles of costly real ingredients, I would have been very disappointed had I not placed it out on the counter at the start of dinner and ended up with something a kin to a chilled Jello dessert.

On the whole, it was delicious, deep, elegant, and would present beautifully in any sort of glass or stemware. But next time I would go for the real mousse: As long as it takes and as fragile as it can be. It would have satisfied the craving of the little girl in my soul.

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