When I was little, a friend of my parents came to the house with a walking stick. It was a very special walking stick! The brass knob on top unscrewed, and when you pulled it out, a long glass tube emerged. Like a slim, secret bottle. I thought it was the neatest thing I’d ever seen! (Yes, we used the word “neat” back then, children.) I was too young to drink, or even want to drink, but oh how I coveted that cane. Imagine my delight when a gift arrived in the mail – my very own secret bottled-cane, from the gentleman who had introduced me to the concept in the first place. I was so happy! At the time, I was also very taken with drambuie. Not to drink – just the idea of it. Flavored with herbs, spices, and heather honey. From the Isle of Skye. What magical potion is this! So I filled my secret tube with drambuie. And then pretty much left it there until the cork dried up and the glass tube got stuck in the cane. Sigh. Now that I’m 42 (how did that happen?) I’m taken with more than just the idea of drambuie. I’m also a big fan of the unusual, distinctive flavor, and the way it burns a little bit on a sore throat.
I wanted to make a special dessert for valentine’s day. Not just cookies or cake, that we’d all eat for days afterwards, but something just for that moment. So I made mousse. It’s ridiculously delicious – it’s like a distillation of good flavors and textures. But it’s not something you’d want to eat every day. It’s so rich, and seems so sweet! (Although it really doesn’t have any sugar other than that in the chocolate.)
It was actually fun to make, too. You start with a zabaglione, which is one of my current favorite words. That’s egg yolks, whipped and cooked with some sweetish liqueur or wine. This kind of thing makes me very nervous – cooking egg yolks till they thicken, but watching to make sure they don’t cook too fast and curdle. It’s a special feeling of victory when it works. Which it did! Then you add melted chocolate and whipped cream. And that’s about it. Very simple, very delicious.
Here’s Cab Calloway’s So Sweet.
1 cup chocolate chips – melted over a pan of hot water
3 egg yolks
2 T water
1/3 cup drambuie
1 cup heavy cream – whipped till quite stiff
I cooked the egg yolks in a double boiler. So in a small heavy pan over a larger pan full of boiling water. You put the egg yolks and water in the heavy pan, and start whisking. When it starts to get foamy and a little bit thick, you add the drambuie. Then you keep whisking and whisking, till everything gets a bit frothy. Keep on stirring, over the heat for 8 – 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and custardy and frothy. But be careful not to let the yolks cook and curdle.
Take it off the heat, and whisk it a bit more to let it cool a bit. Then pour it into a bowl. Fold in the melted chocolate and mix well. Let it all cool a bit, and then fold in the whipped cream, carefully.
Leave it in the fridge to set for a little while. An hour, maybe?
I made the leftover egg whites into almond meringues, to eat with the mousse.