This week has been overwhelming. I’m pretty glad it’s over.
Sometimes life becomes too much, you know? Stress and heartbreak and worry and guilt all pile on at the exact same time, and it’s hard to see your way out of it. Sometimes you need a push, sometimes you need something new to look forward to. Sometimes you just need time.
We lost our family dog, Delaney, this weekend. It was sudden, and shocking, and incredibly heartbreaking. Trying to navigate this has been really difficult and the only way to get through it is with routine. Food, photos, blog. Rinse and repeat.
For Mother’s Day, my brother Ryan decided to make gumbo for our mom. Mom loves New Orleans and all things Cajun/Creole, so gumbo it was. I was in charge of dessert.
Coffee and doughnuts. Or, more specifically, café au lait mousse and homemade beignets. A little twist on a Southern classic.
The mousse is made with instant espresso (available at most grocery stores) and white chocolate. I added a little cinnamon and nutmeg to help mimic the chicory flavor that is usually found in New Orleans coffee. Light, frothy and rich, with a nutmeg whipped cream on top. Delightful.
The beignet recipe came from the New Orleans cookbook Cooking Up a Storm. Most beignets are made from a sturdier dough that is rolled out and cut into squares before frying. This recipe is a bit more rustic; a thinner batter that is spooned into the oil like a fritter. The result is smaller, lighter, oddly shaped little doughnuts. Still delicious.
It’s amazing how much a sweet treat can improve a crappy situation. Tons and tons and tons of sweet treats.
What is your favorite comfort food in times of distress? THG
Café au Lait Mousse
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp. instant espresso
1 Tbsp. hot water
12 oz. white chocolate
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 large pinch nutmeg
1 large pinch ground cinnamon
5 eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar, divided
Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks. Set aside.
In a small bowl whisk together espresso powder and hot water until a thick syrup forms. Set aside.
In a double boiler, melt white chocolate and butter over medium high heat. Once melted, whisk in espresso mixture, nutmeg and cinnamon. Set aside.
In the double boiler over medium heat, whisk together egg yolks and 1/8 cup sugar. Continue to whisk over heat until yolks reach 140ºF. Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk egg whites on high speed until cooled down and thickened considerably. Set aside.
In the double boiler again, whisk together egg whites and remaining sugar until whites reach 140ºF. Transfer to stand mixer and whisk to stiff peaks.
Fold egg whites into yolks. Fold white chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Finally, fold whipped heavy cream into egg mixture. Spoon into coffee cups and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours. Serve chilled with spiced whipped cream.
Makes 8 coffee cups
Beignets (from Cooking Up a Storm)
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
pinch of nutmeg
In a large mixing bowl, whisk water, milk and egg together. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and nutmeg. Whisk well to combine until smooth and free of lumps.
In a medium saucepan, heat approximately 3” of canola oil over medium high heat to 350ºF. Drop spoonfuls of batter into canola oil. Fry until golden brown all around, turning once, about 3-4 minutes. Drain on a paper towel lined cookie rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.
Makes approximately 2 dozen