Almost five months after buying Around My French Table, there’s still a little bit of the scent of new book about it, but that’s fading fast. It’s now starting to look like some of the most-used cookbooks in my collection. One page has a drop of braising liquid and on another there’s a tiny stain from Valrhona chocolate. I’m sure that there’s also some gluten-free flour mix dusted throughout. At least I don’t dog-ear the pages (shudder).
Ultimately, I think those stains are the markers of a successful cookbook. Though I try to keep my cookbooks safe from my culinary adventures, I inevitably put a chocolately finger on the page or spatter some too enthusiastically stirred broth over the book. I’ve a few that are still pristine; those are likely to end up in a box at a yard sale someday. Those that I enjoy most are no longer so pretty.
It’s safe to say that I’m enjoying cooking from Around My French Table. Learning from Dorie Greenspan and from each other, the group has made some delicious dishes so far. This week’s recipe has inspired me to do a little learning beyond the AMFT classroom. Since the double chocolate mousse cake almost cries out for ice cream, I pulled out my (brand new) copy of David Lebovitz’ Ready for Dessert and looked for a suitable match. I don’t have an ice cream freezer, but that wasn’t too much of a barrier. I used his frozen caramel mousse recipe, along with salted almonds (both of which are meant to be served with sherry-glazed pears and chocolate, but those will have to wait for another time).
The cake itself is mostly a matter of stirring. Once the chocolate is melted, the rest of the ingredients are incorporated bit by bit, save for the egg whites, which are folded in at the end. The most time-consuming part of the process for me was walking down the block to the corner coffee shop, Bump N Grind, to pick up the espresso. I don’t usually drink coffee at home (I’m a mildly obsessive tea drinker) and my neighbourhood is known for very good espresso, so there’s little reason for me to keep coffee on hand. I used to have a fantastic chocolate cake recipe (which I’ve sadly lost) that used a long Americano. I lived closer to Continental Coffee then and entertained enough that they knew exactly what I was up to when I came in. It brought back memories when I walked into the shop yesterday and asked for a third of a cup of espresso.
I chose to bake the cake twice and serve it cold, which is Dorie’s favourite version. You can also bake it once and serve it with chilled chocolate mousse on top or bake it twice and serve it warm. I think there’s some experimentation called for, to make sure I identify my favourite version of this cake. I don’t think I’ll manage it all at once, though.
What I can tell you is that the cake is dense and delicious, reminiscent of a brownie, but much more sophisticated. The hint of espresso works really well with the bittersweet chocolate. Adding caramel mousse and salted almonds? Amazing.
You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Michel Rostang’s Double Chocolate Mousse Cake