I hold dear and close the big things in life like love, family, friendships, and connections. I also believe they are all enhanced by the little things. The little things in life...Those little trickets or thoughts that we hang onto. They might be in a shoe box in your closet or the attic, they might be on your nightstand. Special paper and photographs in your desk drawers. A dish or an ingredient that you are cherishing to the last crumb.
When I moved to the US, I came with the two suitcases and a few little things that kept me connected to my home. Among those items were "Pipou" a stuffed rabbit that I got when I was born and a tiny porcelain box with my name on it. What was I thinking?. Imagine the first time B. stayed over: "oh and by the way, meet my favorite blankie type thingie, Pipou" Now that a sure way to get rid of your date!! Or was I so afraid to become mute that the box would become another way to give my name out?! Well I know why they came along but retrospectively it could have thrown a few people off. However I did meet a wonderful man who embraced all the crazy little things his crazy expat of a wife enjoyed and needed to stay connected with.
A lot of the little things that bring me a smile on my face are, you can guess, often related to food. I just have to open a jar of Herbes de Provence that I can hear the cicadas and all of a sudden I am home for a brief instant. Open the jar, close the jar. Open the jar, close the jar.....smile. Slicing lemons almost always makes me want to drop a couple of slices in a hot cup of tea, just like Mamie used to do. Within ten minutes, the kettle is singing away. Little things like that make me vibrate, keep me alive, keep me going. We all have our inner batteries, these are mine.
I made a bunch of souffles earlier this month, and for one of them I opened up my last and treasured can of chestnut paste.One of my little things. I kept it waiting on the shelf for a long long time but one souffle I wanted to bake again was my family's Chesnut Chocolate Tapioca Souffles ( you can read the full article in Desserts Magazine). When I served one to B., he exclaimed "Oh my gosh! Did you finally pop that last can open? That's serious!" while my head was screaming "yes I did , so pay attention and eat it slowly!". I did not say it outloud though. I did however scrape that can to the last drop of cream and froze the leftover for a future dessert.
It then hit me that my favorite way to eat it is still the simplest: with a spoon. However, since it is a delicacy after all, to be savoured to the last bit, I decided to give it a more proper farewell than us, our spoons, a tin can and a comfy sofa. I made a verrine layering a simple milk chocolate mousse, a layer of bittersweet chocolate ganache, chesnut cream mousse and a little whipped cream. Delicious! It was winter comfort at its best for me. Now I must remember to ask mom to bring more when they come next month (read this mom?!).
What are your "little things" in life?
Milk Chocolate And Chesnut Mousse Verrines Recipe:
Serves 4 depending on the size of your ramekins or glasses.
Kitchen Notes: you can find "creme de marrons" or chesnut cream online, here for example or make your own. The chocolate painted glasses I used were extras I had prepared for the Daring Bakers challenge last month and did not used and they worked perfectly with this.
For the Milk Chocolate Mousse:
4 oz (120gr) semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons (30ml) whole milk
3 tablespoons (25gr) butter
3/4 cup (175ml) heavy cream, cold
In a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (make sure that the bowl fits snuggly over the pan and does not touch the water), melt together the chocolate, milk, and butter. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. In a mixer, whip the cream to medium peaks and fold it into the chocolate mixture. Pipe or spoon the mousse into ramekins or glasses. Refrigerate.
For the Chocolate Ganache:
1/2 cup (125ml) heavy cream
6 oz (180gr) bittersweet chocolate
In a small heavy saucepan set over medium hight heat, bring the cream to a boil. Place the chocolate into a medium sized bowl and pour the hot cream over it. Let the mixture stand for 2 to 3 minutes. Gently stir the cream and chocolate together with a spatula until the mixture comes togethr and is fully combined. Let cool completely before dividing it on top of the chocolate mousse. Refrigerate.
For the Chesnut Cream Mousse:
3/4 cup (157ml) heavy cream
1/2 cup (125ml) chesnut puree
In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream to medium stiff peaks. Add one third into the chesnut puree to lighten it and then fold in the remaining whipped cream until combined. Pipe or spoon on top of the ganache layer. Refrigerate.
For the whipped cream:
1/2 cup (125ml) heavy cream
In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream to medium stiff peaks. Pipe or spoon on top of the chestnut layer and level with an offset spatula.