Posts Tagged ‘chocolate mousse


Ms. Pie gets married, sans pie

We had an amazing meal at 701 following Ms. Pie & Faux Grant’s wedding (huzzah!). It  was just one of many meals in a weekend orgy of food—as all weddings should be. The night before, we’d had Baked & Wired cupcakes at the hen/rooster party. A dozen leftovers went home with me, which means there isn’t much room for a lot of real food in the freezer right now. A good problem to have!

While there were no pie options on the 701 dessert menu, it wasn’t missed thanks to selections like the the “Piña Colada,” an upside-down pineapple cake swimming in coconut cream sauce (below), and the “Chocolate Dome,” a rich mousse accompanied by beet ice cream (above).

Beet ice cream, you say? How can that be good? Well, Ms. Pie’s sister is a die-hard beet hater, but even she declared, “I could eat beets if they were always served like this!”

On a previous visit I’d noticed that the 701 pastry chef sometimes puts an Asian twist on the desserts. The pineapple cake was no exception. I couldn’t put my finger on what that spice was. Cardamom? Anise? All I know is that it made this no ordinary pineapple upside-down cake.



Chocolate mousse from Brasserie Jo

Brasserie Jo is a mini-chain in Boston and Chicago. The mousse was ruined by the fact that the white chocolate sauce they drizzled on it had soured. Oh well, at least that helped me with portion control.



A (really long) word on British desserts


OK, so British food gets a bad rap. British desserts, on the other hand–well, I challenge you to leave empty-handed from the dessert case at Sainsbury’s, Tesco or Marks & Spencer. There are simply too many temptations for dessert-lovers like us.

The array of individually-sized UK goodies like trifles, puddings, fools, etc. will make your head spin. Then there’s the French influence: floating islands (merengue floating in a “sea” of vanilla custard), mousses, creme brulees, pot de cremes, etc.

What I particularly like about desserts you find in the UK are:

(1) the names. Believe it or not, there’s a dessert called spotted dick (a delicious suet-based concoction with currants, not an STD. It’s usually served with hot custard)

(2) the use of real whipped cream, butter, custard and anything that will clot your veins/make me reach for my bottle of lactase. I mean, they actually sell a product called “clotted cream” (you can also find it here at Dean & Deluca) that’s a super heavy cream for spreading on scones and such.

Around the holidays, there’s an entirely new crop of desserts you can only get for a limited time. Like Christmas puddings, which are liquor-infused, heavy fruitcakes (not those bricks like the ones from Safeway) usually eaten with melted brandy butter or custard. Or flute-shaped butter cookies called brandy snaps that are meant to be filled with whipped cream. British cannolis, anyone? BTW just to clarify, what we call dessert the British call “pudding.” But they also refer to specific desserts as puddings: toffee puddings, Christmas pudding, etc.–spongy, heavy cake-like confections. So yeah, it gets confusing.

Here are a few of my personal attempts at making British desserts. The bottom photo is a pseudo-trifle I made for July 4th last year. Making an American flag out of fruit was out of the question, so it got the French flag treatment (sorry, America). It was layers of custard, sponge cake, fruit and whipped cream. You’re supposed to put it in a glass bowl to show off the layers, but I didn’t have one handy. Also, I opted not to include liquor or jello in it.

The thing in the wine glass is something I learned from Nigella Lawson’s Food Network show: Amaretto Syllabub. It’s easy–you just whip together Amaretto liquor, whipped cream, sugar & lemon juice. Then layer it in a glass with shaved chocolate flakes and crumbled cookies. Recipe here:,,FOOD_9936_77083,00.html. Nigella, my taste buds thank you but my cholesterol doesn’t.

Anyway, the next time you decide to rag on the British culinary tradition, just think of all the spotted dick we’d be missing out on.