Update 34: New Year's Goal: Become an "official" Gourmess by August 2010

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate. --Julia Child

I know I don't have to tell you, but Session 25: Mousses, Soufflés, Bavarian Creams, and Charlottes was the final cooking session in the book. (Session 26: Introduction to Kitchen Management had 0 recipes--but lots of math.)  

I started with Mousse aux Deux Chocolats (Two-Chocolate Mousse) which was two recipes in one.  First, I made dark chocolate mousse by putting 5.25 oz of bittersweet chocolate (chopped) in a stainless steel bowl set over a water bath (bain-marie) that was simmering on the stove.  I stirred the chocolate constantly until melted then turned off the heat, but let it sit there to rest/cool.

Then, I put some heavy cream (1 2/3 cups) in a bowl set over an ice bath and whisked it until soft peaks formed, then set aside (in the ice bath).   I then took 3 large egg whites and beat them until soft peaks formed, then added 1 oz of sugar and continued whisking until they formed firm, satiny peaks.

I took the melted chocolate and using a rubber spatula folded the egg whites into them, scraping up and over to incorporate completely. When all the egg whites were folded in, I did the same with the chilled whipped cream, added in a bit of pure vanilla extract (you can use any flavoring, but I wanted to do the standard for my first time around) then covered the mousse with plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge until set for at least an hour.  It was a lovely, shiny chocolaty color and the texture was so light and fluffy.  I almost sat there and ate the entire bowl!

But, I still had to make the second part of the recipe: white chocolate mousse, so I moved on.  I put 7 oz of white chocolate in a stainless steel bowl and set aside. Then, I took 7 TBS of heavy cream and brought to a simmer in a small pan.  While that was heating, I whisked 2 egg yolks and some sugar together until very pale yellow (blanchir). Then, I whisked in a bit of the hot cream into it to temper, and whisking constantly, put it back into the pot of hot cream. I cooked the mixture for a few minutes until it had thickened and coated the back of my wooden spoon (nappant).  I removed it from the heat and ran it through my trusty chinois, into the bowl of chocolate, stirring until it had melted.

Then, I took 14 TBS of heavy cream and beat it until stiff peaks formed. After that, I took a rubber spatula and folded the whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture, and added a bit of pure vanilla extract. Once well blended, I put that in the fridge to chill as well.  I thought it was interesting the chocolate mousse required egg whites and sugar, while the white chocolate mouse was egg yolks and sugar.  

Once the mousses were set, I layered in a glass.  The chocolate was fluffy and yet dense, and the white chocolate was creamy with vanilla-undertones.  It wasn't too sweet -- just a really satisfying treat.

Next up was Soufflé au Chocolat (Chocolate Soufflé).  I prepared my ramekins by lightly buttering them and then I sprinkled sugar in them, swirling to coat all the sides, then tapped out any excess.  I put the ramekins in the fridge to chill.   

Then, I made a beurre manié (soft butter kneaded into flour, in pea-sized balls) and set aside.  I placed some milk in a pot and brought to a boil, then whisked in the beurre manié and cooked until it became very thick, about 3 minutes. I removed it from the heat and then stirred in 3.5 oz of bittersweet chocolate. Once the chocolate was incorporated, I beat in 2 egg yolks (one at a time), some dark rum, and a bit of pure vanilla extract. Then, I put 4 egg whites into a stainless steel bowl and beat them until soft peaks formed, then added in some sugar and continued to beat until the peaks were firm, making sure not to beat them too much, as they would become dry.  

After that, I folded in 1/4 of the egg whites into my chocolate mixture to lighten it, then added in the rest all at once, folding gently until it was well combined.   I put the mixture into each of my ramekins, wiped any excess of the rims and placed in a preheated 400 degree oven that was then lowered to 375 degrees, and baked for about 15-20 minutes, until the soufflés rose and were barely set in the center. (I placed them in a bain-marie as the book suggested that would make for a better texture/end result).

It was fun to watch them rise, and I quickly removed them from the oven when done and plated for my pictures -- all the while knowing that in a few minutes, my lovely soufflés would deflate.  

They sure were pretty -- the outside was barely crisp while the inside was creamy and lovely. The chocolate flavor wasn't bitter, but it was rich and dark.  A very elegant dessert.

Up next was Soufflé à la Liquer (Liquer Soufflé).  I coated the ramekins with butter/sugar again and put in the fridge to chill.  Then, I put some milk in a pot on the stove, added 1/2 a vanilla bean (and the scraped seeds) and brought it to a boil, then immediately removed from the heat and set aside to steep for about 10 minutes or so.

While it was steeping, I whisked two egg yolks and sugar together until pale yellow (blanchir) and then whisked in some sifted flour.  Then, I strained the vanilla bean from the milk and returned the milk to the stove and brought to a simmer. I took some of the hot milk and whisked it into the egg yolk/sugar/flour mixture to temper and then slowly poured that mixture back into the pot of simmering milk.  I whisked a bit and let simmer for about a minute, then scraped the mixture into a clean bowl and added in about four teaspoons of Grand Marnier. I added in one more egg yolk and whisked it into the mixture, too.

Then, I took four large egg whites and beat them until soft peaks formed, added in some sugar, and continued to whisk until the peaks were firm but not overly dry.  I folded in 1/4 of the egg whites into the mixture to lighten it, then added in the rest and folded until blended.  Then, I put the mixture into the prepared molds, wiped off the rims and baked at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes, until my soufflés had risen.

Success number two!  This one was crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside and the vanilla and liquer combo was pretty nice.  I can see this as a great winter treat...the Grand Marnier would definitely warm you up! 

So, here we are at the final recipe: Soufflé au Fromage (Cheese Soufflé).  I took my time with this one -- as much as I looked forward to this day, the last recipe--I didn't want it to end.

I prepped my ramekins with butter and breadcrumbs (instead of sugar) and put them in the fridge to chill.  Then, I made another batch of beurre manié, stirred it into a pot of boiling milk and cooked until thick.  I removed it from the heat and beat in 2 oz of cheese. (I used half Gruyère and half Irish Cheddar.) Once the cheese melted, I beat in two egg yolks (one at a time) and then seasoned the mixture with salt, nutmeg and cayenne pepper.

I took four egg whites (I assumed I should use four egg whites, as oddly the recipe doesn't list the egg whites in the ingredient list at all, yet still has the instructions for beating them included -- so must have been a typo.) and beat them until firm peaks formed (and weren't dry in texture), then folded 1/4 of them into the cheese mixture to lighten, then added in the rest and folded everything together until blended.

I put the mixture in my ramekins, baked for about 15 minutes, then turned off the oven.

Creamy, cheesy, light, fluffy, yum.


Then, I cleaned up the kitchen.  Here's a shot of the Gourmess in action...might be awhile before the kitchen gets this crazy again.

Here we are at the end!  And still a few weeks before my birthday!  I want to say thanks to everyone who has cheered me on during this wild, crazy, stressful, rewarding journey.  Especially my dear, patient Chris--who was my guinea pig, my sounding board, and the guy who tiptoed past the kitchen while I was in grouchy Gourmess mode.  Also, thanks to my downstairs neighbor who had to deal with me doing dishes at all hours of the night and who was always eager to try my creations. And, thanks to those of you who sent me notes of encouragement and/or nice comments. I couldn't have done it without all of you and I can't wait to have you all over for an encore of your favorites.

I'll be back soon with more tales of the Gourmess. Until then, bon appetit
And remember to LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE, and COOK with all your heart.


P.S. I told Chris that he was letting his fans down by not trying my desserts, so the two of us just stood in the kitchen and had a soufflé tasting.  Chris pronounced the frozen mango one from Session 24 to be "amazing" and said it reminded him of the islands.  He was right. I couldn't stop eating it -- the mango flavor was so fresh and made me think of sunshine and sea.  The chocolate one was given a favorable nod, a sigh/moan and raised eyebrows and Chris said it was better than the ones I bought from the gourmet grocer a few months ago.  It was chocolate goodness at its best. Chris said the liquer one would be good for a fancy brunch with a side of bacon and a mimosa (my kind of guy) and he ate several bites of the cheese one before asking me to save it so he could have it for breakfast.  I guess I didn't do too badly.  :)

Cheese Souffle on Foodista