Thursday, 16 February 2012

Triple Chocolate Mousse

Late last week, with Valentine's Day fast approaching, this Fatboy was struggling for ideas for a special present for the lovely lady in my life. Cue Emily, one of my best friends in the world and a horrendous speller to boot. 'Your next blog post should be chocolate mouse!' Two birds and one stone later and I was in the kitchen whipping up a chocolatey storm that I knew was going to put me in the good books for quite some time. They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach? Well those women, they're not so different to us just have to make sure it's cocoa based, triple-layered and sprinkled with honeycomb. I'll never buy flowers again. 
In a large bowl mix 4 large egg yolks, 3 tablespoons of caster sugar and the seeds from one vanilla pod. Heat 3/4 cup of heavy cream on the hob over medium heat until it just starts to bubble slightly, then whisk it into the egg mixture. Pour slowly and whisk quickly. If you pour quickly and whisk slowly then you're doing it all kinds of wrong..don't even try it.
Stick your eggy custard back on the hob for a few minutes, whisking constantly, until a cooking thermometer reads about 160F. If you don't have a cooking thermometer, a nice little trick is to stick your little finger in the mixture - once it starts to really, really hurt then take your finger out and you're probably there or thereabouts. And a complete muppet.
Take the custard off the heat and strain through a sieve. This isn't the lumpy, congealed rubbish they used to serve to us in primary school cantines, this is top-shelf custard. Your grandmother would be proud. I hope mine will too - hi grandma. Set the custard aside whilst you sort out your chocolate.
Separate 3 ounces each of dark, milk, and white chocolate. The recipe calls for about 2.5, but if you're anything like me, and your girlfriend is anything like mine then you need to account for minor eatage. Melt each in three different glass or metal bowls over a bains-marie/water bath/saucepan full of boiling water. Don't add butter or the chocolate will split and you will feel like a right plonker.
Divide the custard between the three chocolate mixes and whisk until smooth. I found it was quite handy to have a sinkful of soapy water so I could keep cleaning the whisk. Alternatively you could buy three whisks, but that can get expensive and we're in a recession so just wash the damn thing. Once you're well and truly mixed, stick the bowls in the fridge and let them cooooooool.
Using an electric mixer (or your super-strong wrists) beat 1 1/4 cups of heavy cream until you have peaks and you can do that neat trick where you turn the bowl upside down over your head. Divide amongst the three chocolate mixtures and carefully fold into a mousse. No prizes for speed or aggression here. Remember - 'softly softly catchy monkey'. I have no idea what that means.
Bash up a Crunchie and sprinkle on top (no favouritism here at Fatboy's Kitchen; other chocolate-covered honeycomb treats are available). This really is a bit indulgent, but at the end of the day why have 3 types of chocolate in a pudding when you can have 4? Exactly. Whilst we're on the subject has anyone else ever tried to nibble off all of the chocolate on a Crunchie so that you're just left with the honeycomb centre? It's a riot, and a great way to spend an afternoon.
Ideally, these need to be chilled for several hours before you eat them. Which was fine for me because Emily had given me another idea that required some major flexing of my kitchen-nerd muscles...
Cherries. Not at all surprisingly, these were in pretty high demand the night before Valentine's Day in the supermarket in the centre of Manchester. I actually had to strangle a poor old woman with the wire from my headphones just so I could grab the last carton. Oh well, it was worth it.
Melt chocolate as before, add a chocolate chip for a nose, some almonds for ears and cake decorations for eyes and you have...a chocolate mouse for a chocolate mousse. OK, so they're not about to win any prizes for their similarity to the real thing, but who cares, at the end of the day it's all about having a good time and eating chocolate.
And so there you have it. One bit of advice though - the recipe above calls for 8 servings, which I squeezed into 3 sundae glasses. Two days later and my fridge is still full of chocolate mousse as well as the less successful cherry/mouse/things. So if anyone's hungry you know where to find me. You're going to have to fight Emily though, she most definitely gets first dibs.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Baked Brandy Grapefruit

Thank goodness for long weekends. I found this recipe on a Friday before a hard-earned and much needed four day weekend and I knew immediately how I was going to end up spending the next few mornings; drunk and full of Vitamin C. Best of all, if you sleep in late enough, you can justify cracking open a beer whilst you put this together. It's so simple and quick, and if you're planning an epic day of sports (watching, not participating...obviously) then this is the ideal fistful of sugar to kick-start the festivities.
Cut your grapefruit in half and separate the segments. I use my grapefruit knife. Best investment ever, it is a real thing, look it up. Cover each half with a generous few spoons of dark brown sugar and as much brandy as will fit before it starts seeping over the sides then leave for half an hour. Once most of the brandy has absorbed, pour another shot over each half for luck and stick under the grill or broiler for about ten minutes, or until the sugar starts to caramelise. A nice scoop of sour cream and a crack of black pepper totally complete this awesome boozy breakfast dish.