I love decorating for Christmas and typically do so the day after Thanksgiving, but this year with our California visitors we couldn’t skip ahead to the next holiday as quickly as usual. Last night we finally had the opportunity to get our house holiday ready. Since we spend a large portion of the holidays away from home at Christmas we typically don’t get a tree. This means getting creative with our lights, garlands, and the handful of ornaments we chose to display. I loved the way my husband decorated our grandmothers clock this year!
On top of decorating, we had a surprise visit from Sinterklaas last night. My husband is half Dutch which is apparently enough to make it onto Sinterklaas’ list despite our distance from the Netherlands. We didn’t have wooden shoes to leave out for him, but thankfully he left his own filled with chocolates, oranges and sprigs of greenery. What a delicious way to kick off the Christmas season!
A few years ago a Ghiradelli outlet store opened about 20 minutes from my parent’s house. Now going to the real Ghiradelli Square in San Francisco and having an ice cream soda is a lovely experience, but I’ll take fabulous chocolate where I can get it. Ever since the store closer to us opened its doors, Santa Claus has been kind enough to give my hubby and I copious amounts of single serving squares in our stockings.
During the weekend I went with Santa Claus (aka my mumbo) to the store and six pounds of chocolate later, this is what we headed home with (don’t worry, it isn’t all for me). Santa still needs to divide it up, so I will anxiously await finding out which flavors I will get come Christmas Eve. Thankfully I know that Santa will give all the funky fruity ones to my dad, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed for dark chocolate mint and dark chocolate carmel and dark chocolate truffle! (Are you sensing a theme here?)
The past few days were super social. We played host and attended multiple dinner parties, went to an open house, and provided the post-service coffee hour for our church on Sunday. All of these activities required desserts meaning the time had come to get serious about fall baking. While my husband tackled Friday night’s dessert — chocolate mousse with homemade whipped cream — I devoted my Saturday morning to creating sweet treats.
For our Saturday night pizza party I wanted to try something new so I decided to go with one of the many mouth watering dessert options in my favorite cookbook Around My French Table. I settled on the double chocolate mousse cake and got to work.
While only having six ingredients I am pretty sure I got every dish in the house dirty whipping up this amazingly dense cake. Despite not having a double boiler, I melted down the 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate using our homemade version — a large soup pot and with a vegetable steamer as the base for the bowl of chocolate to sit over water. It worked well and the rest of the dessert came together without trouble.
The next trick was deciding which of the many baking options I wanted to go with — double bake and serve warm (didn’t seem practical for taking to someone else’s house); bake the first round, top with remaining mousse and chill before serving; or double bake and serve chilled. As this final option was the author’s preference it seemed like the obvious winner to me. (Sidenote: If I have the chance to make this again I think I will try the “bake then top with mousse and serve chilled” option in order to really distinguish between the two layers.)
I was a bit worried that the spring form pan I had available was bigger than the recipe called for since I was only supposed to bake 1/3 of the mousse concoction on the first go and ended up putting nearly 2/3’s of it in the pan to ensure that the bottom was covered, but based on all of the “mmms” that came around the bonfire on Saturday night, I’d say it was a success.