I actually had a can of mousse back in the eighties. The hair kind. I think everyone had one. I’d squeeze out a little dollop, rub it in, and hopefully it would keep my hair just as feathered and in-place as I wanted it to be. Nothing fancy, but just a bit of hold. I didn’t use it all that much, but on occasion it would come out. Then of course I got a tube of Dep hair gel and moved over to that. I’ve been using that ever since (not really). I have to say that my mousse time was probably the most product I’ve ever used in my hair. Ah, to be young again.
This day celebrates mousse but I think it’s intended to celebrate the dessert kind. I like that kind of mousse too. Did you know that mousse is actually a French word that means foam, so naturally it’s a word that works for the foam we put in our hair and for the type of chocolate we make that comes out with a nice foamy texture. When I think of mousse, I can’t help think of my first restaurant job at the Original New England Food and Beverage Company in beautiful West Haven, CT. I worked there right after graduating college. My cousin was managing and like any good restaurant person, he took in a wandering soul and gave me a job. That started me on a bit of a journey. The restaurant had a few banquet rooms in the back of the restaurant and consequently a big chunk of the business was private parties. The menu for those parties all included a special handmade dessert: a cup of chocolate mousse.
For a banquet dessert, from a server standpoint, it was ideal. They would be all made ahead of time and held in the walk-in cooler on trays ready to go. After you cleared the dinner plates, you would just stack a bunch on a serving tray and fire them out to everyone. You could do a room of 100 people with three servers in less than five minutes. Plus, it’s a pretty amicable dessert. It may not be the most WOW! dessert, but it was still sweet and tasty and a fine ending to any meal. It also meant that the party was almost over, so you could start the countdown for getting out of there as soon as you delivered the last cup.
All the mousse was made by Auntie Anna, the actual aunt of the owner (Bobby). She was an elderly woman but still eager to make desserts. She would come in once or twice a week during the day, take her spot in the corner of the kitchen, and make her desserts. She made a great mousse but also made a really tasty Key Lime Pie. The restaurant was on the smaller side, so for a prep crew, it was usually only one or two guys getting ready for the night. Auntie Anna would stay to herself in her corner although you would never want to get in the way (Auntie Anna cut a bitch – not really). I wasn’t in the prep kitchen all that much, but if you ask those that were, they’d comment about her incessant humming that she would continue throughout the day. That gets in your head when you are in a confined space all day. In any case, she made a pretty great tasting mousse that she made with Kahlúa coffee liqueur. When you were serving, if there were ever any leftover, you could always snack on one as you waited for the party to finish, so I certainly got my share of tastes. Smooth, chocolatey and delicious. I was happy to hear that my cousin keeps the mousse tradition going at his restaurant in West Virginia now, although the mousse making duties have passed on to the most capable hands of his wife Paula. (Shout out to Ye Olde Alpha!)
When I was looking for a recipe, I settled on one from Food Network chef Anne Burrell who had an easy recipe that incorporated coffee liqueur. That would be my small tribute to the ONEFB mousse. You melt chocolate and as you are doing that, you combine some egg yolks, some sugar and the coffee liqueur in another bowl. When the chocolate is melted, you add it in so you get a thick chocolate mixture. To that, you fold in some fresh whipped cream. You fold it in in parts so the whipped cream keeps it fluffy and it allows the chocolate to distribute. They you scoop it into cups for serving and let it chill. It came out pretty good and only took about fifteen minutes from start to finish.
I served them up with some whipped cream (as you can see) while we were watching Survivor as is our Wednesday tradition (last night’s episode kicked my pick out of the game). The mousse was actually great! I came close to recreating the taste I was thinking of, even if by accident. It was nice and smooth in texture. I think I may have pulled the chocolate off the burner a tad too early because there were tiny bits of chocolate in our bites, but that actually worked out for the better because it gave you extra texture and taste (a happy accident). I am not sure if Lola is a fan of mousse because she liked it but wasn’t too enthusiastic about it. She could have just been too full or she may have an issue with the texture. Regardless, it was exactly what I was looking for in a mousse and I nailed it.
So with that, my mousse celebration came to fruition. Auntie Anna would have been proud. I love when the memory of a food brings you back. Thinking about the banquet room at the old restaurant, the cold kitchen, the tiny office and all the fun people brought some cheer to my heart. Just a bite of the mousse took me back there, so that’s the power of food and the power of celebration. I’m not sure whatever happened to Auntie Anna, although I imagine she’s passed on. Cheers to her for bringing mousse into my world and for all the sweetness she whipped up from her corner spot. We honor you today. Cheers too to all my ONEFB peeps for all the happy memories – I raise a mousse filled spoon to all those memories we shared together.
Next Up: National Pie Day