Spiced Chocolate Mousse

“French women choose their own indulgences and compensations.  They understand that little things count, both additions and subtractions, and that as an adult everyone is the keeper of her own equilibrium..” From the French Woman’s Manifesto

Spiced Chocolate Mousse (Serves 4)spiced choc mousse

Ingredients:

7 ounces dark chocolate (70% to 80% cacao preferred), chopped

4 eggs, separated, at room temperature

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

½ cup crème fraîche

Zest of 1 orange

Zest of 1 lemon

Pinch of cinnamon

Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a double boiler insert set over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and let the chocolate cool slightly. It should feel warm but not hot to the touch.

  2. Meanwhile, place the egg whites and a pinch of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk for 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high speed while gradually incorporating half of the sugar. When the egg whites almost form stiff peaks, add the remaining sugar and beat until glossy. Remove the whipped egg whites and place in a large bowl. Clean the mixing bowl and add the crème fraîche, citrus zests, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and egg yolks and mix for 20 seconds on medium-high speed.  Add the warm chocolate and beat until smooth.

  3. Carefully fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites and gently mix. Serve, garnished with additional crème fraîche and orange zest, if desired, or refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve. This may be made 1 day in advance (let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving if chilled).

Article/Photo Credit:   Mireille Guiliano via France Today

French-Italian Lasagne

I don’t have a cooking gene, but have made over the years, lasagne: an easy, one pan kind of meal.  I hadn’t thought of making it in France though, for some reason, until the other day.  I bought FIORINI brand “Lasagnes aux oeufs” (eggs=19%)which were totally UNlike the American wavy-edged lasagne noodles.  And, there was even a recipe on the back of the box (OK, I admit, this is the real reason I bought it)!

Whoa! I started reading the recipe and it didn’t say to cook the noodles before layering them into the pan – What!? I had to be mis-translating something here, so I then looked at the general cooking directions on the side of the box:

“Ne necessite pas de pre-cuisson” (not necessary to precook)

HUH? I had never made lasagne without first cooking the noodles – so surely, I was not reading the French correctly – but Non, this was correct! I didn’t believe it, but went ahead and layered my UNcooked noodles with my own version of vegetable lasagne, thinking this couldn’t possibly turn out well.

Voila! In 40 minutes, it had finished cooking and was DONE! Now I’m wondering if I really needed to pre-cook American lasagne noodles, or is this a case of cultural cooking differences!?