My how weekend nights with friends have changed with parenthood. What used to be late nights of excessive imbibing, decadent food, perhaps some sort of objectionable board game, and raucous laughter has morphed into takeout, the sounds of running feet and something Disney in the background (or maybe The Gruffalo if we’re feeling particularly highbrow), and sippy cups sitting among the highball glasses (consumed very gently now, as young children and hangovers do not mix). I’m not complaining. It is priceless.
This weekend we had our dear friends over. We love this family for too many reasons to list and it is our children that brought us together. I would see Lili’s father every morning when I dropped Anderson off at school and we’d chat for a few minutes about this or that. One morning, as we were chatting, our children kissed. We’ve been two inseparable families ever since with a level of affinity rarely discovered past the days of summer camp and college dormitories.
Click HERE to view that precious video of the first kiss.
Now, go back a few years to 2007 when one unmarried and childless couple visited Napa Valley and returned home with two quickly-purchased backpacks full of wine because everything was just that good (or we were tipsy enough to pretend we were Rockafellers). I can remember some of the wineries we visited–Silver Oak, Frog’s Leap, Mumm–but the special destination vineyard was Beaulieu, though I’ll save the story of why for another time.
These gorgeous bottles of wine, all very different and all carefully chosen to accompany us home, have been waiting for a special occasion to be opened. As I’ve been pondering the concept of belongings as we simplify our “stuff,” these treasures have been on my mind. While I appreciate the nostalgia of cracking open a sentimental bottle of wine on a special occasion, I don’t understand why we’ve been waiting. We’ve had many moments to celebrate since that summer in 2007.
So, this past Friday night, wearing the clothes I had worn to work that day, with two momentarily calm children eating popcorn on the couch while watching Frozen (and subsequently hearing a “Mama, the popcorn spilled!”) we sipped one of those precious wines out of tacky glasses that advertised the 2006 Finger Lake’s Wine Festival. Cut us some slack, we’re packing up items that aren’t necessity. The special occasion, I suppose, was sitting at the table with our dear friends while eating mousse (and sharing spoonfuls with our drooling children). It was a reminder for us (or at least for me) to live in the moment and not wait around for special occasions. You don’t need to be in a pretty dress in a perfect setting to celebrate life, love,and friendship.
Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for
another hour, but this hour.” -Walt Whitman
This recipe is adapted from several different sources, as it is quite basic. Every chocolate lover should have a chocolate mousse recipe on-hand. It is simple to make, very rich, and can be prepped in advance. This one has a touch of bourbon, because, well, everything tastes better with a little touch of Bourbon.
bourbon chocolate mousse
3 cups of heavy cream (divided 1 cup/2 cups) *
1 bag of chocolate chips, using the highest quality chocolate you can find (keep 1/2 cup separated)
2 eggs *
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 tablespoon of GOOD Bourbon (We really like Vermont Spirits No. 14)
* I always say this, but it is important to use organic, high quality cream and free range eggs. Believe me, it makes a difference in terms of taste. Further, especially in the case of free range eggs (certified humane), you want to enjoy every bite knowing it wasn’t at another creature’s expense.
- Cook 1 cup of heavy cream over low heat. Let it get hot without boiling.
- Beat the eggs and 1/4 cup of sugar for a few minutes. Add the mixture to the cream, beating in the saucepan until blended. Continually whisking, keep this on low heat for about 5 minutes, avoiding a boil. If it starts to boil, pull it off the stove for a moment.
- Take it off the stove and mix in the chocolate, vanilla, and Bourbon.
- Cover the mixture and cool in the fridge for two hours or overnight.
- Up to a few hours before you are ready to serve, beat the cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar until stiff peaks form. A beater with whisk attachments works best (I use an immersion blender with the whisk attachment).
- Add your chocolate mixture to the whipped cream (it seems like it won’t mesh because the chocolate mixture will be hard whereas the cream is soft and fluffy, but it does!) and beat only until it is completely blended.
- Scoop into dessert cups, bowls, or even little mason jars.
- Crush the remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate and sprinkle on top of the mousse.