I’m a groupie for birthdays. They punctuate another year passing. A year, quite possibly, filled with trumpets and violins. And to celebrate this cacophony that is life: you get to eat cake. Or cheesecake. Or pudding, if that’s your thing. Which is totally cool. On your birthday you make the rules.
As I tend to do around my birthday, I’ve been reflecting a bit. And so I’ve compiled a list of things I’ve learned over the past year. Also, I made chocolate olive oil mousse. (There is no better accomplice for the procrastination of lists than chocolate.) Two words: worth it.
It’s rich, dense—yet also still fairly light, as mousses tend to be—and perfect with ... wait for it ... brandy. “ Surely, this year has been more than chocolate and brandy?” you ask. Right? Crickets. Fair enough.
Regardless, please find my birthday reflections below.
-When you attempt to compile a list of what you've learned over the span of a year you may start to panic. (If this is the case, I urge you to breath. Lists are stressful.)
-Just because you can freeze cake doesn’t mean you should.
-Life is short, wear the nice underwear.
-If you drink more than one manhattan, you will wake up looking like you had more than one manhattan.
-Sometimes love does hurt.
-If you are having trouble sleeping, read Karl Marx (he's better than warm milk).
-Living in a studio apartment curtails sentimentality. There just isn’t the space. Some tangible memories are bound to be jettisoned. It's okay.
-Nothing good happens after 12 am.
-When in doubt, a little champagne never hurts.
-You can’t make people like you. But you can will them to develop unruly sideburns and receding hairlines with abandon.
-Buy flowers more than you think you should.
-If it can’t be fixed with duct tape or a martini, it ain’t worth fixing.
-When you are in a rotten, no-good mood, ask Billie Holliday to join you.
-Impose no limits. (Heaven knows, anything goes.)
-Take chances and lighten up about them.
-If you are feeling like life is just a little too much, remember: breath first. Make chocolate mousse second.
Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse
Adapted from Tony Maws
11 oz chocolate (70%)
9 egg, yolks and whites separated
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup brandy
pinch of kosher salt
In the bowl of a kitchen stand mixer, whisk egg whites until they are frothy and then add in 1/4 cup sugar; keep whisking until medium peaks form. Place egg white mixture into a large bowl.
Chop the chocolate and melt over simmering water (in a double boiler), stirring occasionally. While the chocolate is melting, add the yolks to the bowl of the kitchen stand mixer (it should no longer contain the egg whites at this point, but you don't need to wash it) and whisk with 1/2 cup sugar until the mixture becomes thick and pale yellow. Once the chocolate is melted, slowly pour the chocolate into the egg yolk mixture, being careful that the yolks do not curdle. Add in the olive oil, brandy, and salt.
Fold in the egg whites and, at this point, you may decide you are done. I was a tad nervous about leaving raw eggs in my fridge for a few days, so I heated the mixture in a double boiler, over simmering water, stirring (by folding) until it reached 140 degrees. (Caveat: the next day, I realized the USDA states egg dishes should be heated to 165 degrees.) Pour into glasses and refrigerate 4 hours before serving.
Yields about 10 (1/2 cup) servings
-I reduced this recipe and only made 1/3 of it. The proportions worked out great and I didn't have too many leftovers to contend with. For the recipe above, I figured I'd keep the original amounts, as "about 3 servings" is sort of an odd recipe yield.
-The mixture will look slightly runny when you pour it into your glasses, but it will set up and get fairly thick in the fridge.
-I realize that heating the egg whites likely reduces some of their "poof" but, for me, I would do exactly the same thing the next time. (Though, I might try adding a bit more olive oil, it didn't come through as much as I would have expected. Despite this, I adored this mousse.)