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The Last Decadent Dessert

Gianduja Mousse and World Peach Cookies

What did you do for New Year’s Eve? We spent the evening with dear friends. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and libations and good company. We brought oysters and dessert. Laury made an amazing Vietnamese caramel fish with rice and Asian vegetables.

As a decadent finale to the past month of indulgent eating, I made Gianduja Mousse from Food & Wine. That’s Chocolate Hazelnut in Italian.

This super-simple dessert was both light and rich at the same time. First, Nutella and crème fraiche are mixed together with some Frangelico. Next, you whip cream until firm. Finally, the whipped cream is folded into the chocolate mixture until fully blended. The mousse is spooned into individual serving dishes, and it’s dessert! I doubled the recipe, which is supposed to serve 4, which made a total of 6 bowls of mousse.

The recipe suggested serving the mousse with chocolate wafer cookies, which inspired me to make a batch of World Peace Cookies. While I’m not a huge chocolate fan, this recipe is so good that these are, hands down, one of my favorite cookie recipes. Another slice-and-bake recipe, so they are easy too.

The gianduja mousse was a hit! It’s a company-worthy dessert that I’m adding to my repertoire. Trader Joe’s has their own spin on a chocolate spread. Theirs is cocoa-almond. I plan to try a version of this with TJ’s cocoa-almond spread with Amaretto to see how that turns out.

The mousse having been enjoyed, now it’s time for some lighter eating for a while…

French Fridays with Dorie: Pancetta Green Beans

After a few weeks of more elaborate recipes, this week’s assignment for French Fridays with Dorie was a welcome change. Pancetta Green Beans was a perfect side dish for our home-cooked weeknight Valentine’s Day dinner.

There’s not all that much to say about these green beans. They were good, a nice change from plain green beans. They were both easy enough for a weeknight and special enough for a holiday meal.

For this recipe, the beans get boiled briefly in a pot of water then plunged in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Then, they were reheated in butter with sautéed pancetta. The beans were finished with some walnut oil, actually a staple at my house for making Beet and Walnut Salad. When I make green beans (which is mostly in the summer), I usually just steam them in the microwave, but the boiled beans had a better texture. I’ll have to remember that next summer.

Pancetta by Howard

The most exciting part about this recipe was a chance to use the piece of homemade pancetta in my freezer. My husband Howard had made the pancetta from Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie. He even built a little wire cage for aging the pancetta in the basement. I would be lying to myself if I thought our 150-year-old fieldstone foundation kept all little critters out, so the protection was critical. I recently read about Charcutepalooza, a year-long group cooking project from the Charcuterie book. I’ve been trying to convince him to try to next challenge. It’s right up his alley.

The green beans went well with our lamb chops and mashed potatoes dinner. And the bottle of Korbel we popped open (on a weeknight, oh, my!) went down very smoothly. Dessert was a few squares of dark chocolate topped with fleur de sel. It was a yummy Valentine’s Day.

Even with this simple recipe, I’m sure my fellow bloggers from French Fridays with Dorie will have some creative twists. Check out their links at French Fridays with Dorie. We don’t post the recipes, but if you’re tempted, buy the book, Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table and consider trying some of the recipes for yourself.

Next week, we’re making Short Ribs in Red Wine and Port, a perfect Sunday supper. Stay tuned.