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Chocolate Mousse and Pumpkin Bread
updated: Nov 14, 2009, 7:00 AM
By Leah Etling
This column started out as a celebration of the many flavors of fall, but then Better Homes and Gardens betrayed me and I had to make pumpkin bread twice.
I think my favorite things about pumpkin bread are how it makes the house smell while it is cooking (although the same result could probably be achieved with a scented candle and far less calories), and the way it tastes warm with butter on it (the candle isn’t going to help me there).
You’ve probably already figured out that I don’t pay any attention to sugar and fats when I’m in the kitchen. As a result, I have to run a lot of miles to be able to eat this way. Since I like running a lot of miles, this works out. But because not everyone would agree with that approach my apologies for not exactly offering healthy choices. I should probably be more conscious of that going forward.
It’s starting to feel like fall outside, so I was really excited about making pumpkin bread. I had a great memory of a recipe from my ancient Better Homes cookbook, which has been used so much that it’s literally in about a 100 pieces (here’s a pictures to show you I’m not kidding. When I went to grad school at Berkeley, I was scared to leave my apartment most of the time, so I cooked A LOT. I made almost every recipe in the cookbook.)
Anyway, one memory of this pumpkin bread recipe is that I didn’t like that it had Crisco in it. I’m only a big fan of shortening when it comes to piecrust. So, I made the Better Homes recipe and it was virtually flavorless! I couldn’t figure it out. The only thing I did differently was to use Trader Joe’s pumpkin instead of Libby’s. Some will surely say I should have used pumpkin from a real pumpkin, a la Martha Stewart. I’m sort of a fake Martha Stewart. I want to make it myself and I want it to taste good, but I’m not going to spend four hours and throw my shoulder out scooping a real pumpkin and sorting the seeds (unless they need to be counted for Edhat, of course).
The Better Homes bread took so much butter on top to make it edible, that I threw half of it out. Then I went back to the store, bought some Libby’s pumpkin, and found a different recipe, “Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread” online, that sounded great. The main reason I picked it was that it didn’t have Crisco (vegetable oil instead) and it had all the traditional spices, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, in decent quantities. Here’s the link: link to recipe. Note that the cooking time recommended is long, I took it out after 45 minutes and it was done. But I’m using a really old oven, so that probably has something to do with it.
This batch smelled even better while it was cooking, so I was cautiously optimistic. As it turned out, it was great -- much much better than the first batch! My taste tester, Erik confirmed that it was absolutely above and beyond the initial attempt.
Meanwhile, I’d already realized that just making pumpkin bread wasn’t going to be enough for this week. It was Edhat’s birthday Nov. 10, and I didn’t get Ed a present. I did, however, eat some chocolate mousse while I was putting out the newsletter at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, but I figured it would be more significant if I made some chocolate mousse from scratch.
This required buying bourbon and Scharffen Berger chocolate at 11 a.m. Yowza! The people at the market probably thought that I’d just lost my job or something. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this bottle of bourbon now that I’ve used 2 tablespoons of it to make the mousse, but maybe I’ll give the rest to Ed as a belated birthday gift.
Here is the chocolate mousse recipe, which is from Fine Cooking:
Bourbon Chocolate Mousse
Half-cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons Bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (3/4 cup)
4 large egg whites at room temperature
Pinch of table salt
Chill 4 ramekins. Boil the cream and sugar in a saucepan. Add the bourbon and vanilla. Add chocolate, let sit for 5 minutes (don’t stir). Whisk until smooth. Set aside.
Beat egg whites and salt on high until they form stiff peaks.
Fold a quarter of the whites into the ganache. Then add the rest with care. Divide and refrigerate 1-24 hours before serving.
I waited several hours to try it, and it was delicious. A little heavy on the bourbon flavor, but when I tried it again the next morning (while I was polishing off this column), the flavor had settled and it was totally scrumptious. A great holiday dessert, especially in a cute red ramekin from Cost Plus World Market. I didn’t have any candles, or I would have stuck six of them in there. Happy birthday, Edhat!
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