Hugging my mom, joking with my dad. This is pretty much all I have done in the past 24 hours. It had been a year since I last put my arms around maman and two(!) since I was able to share some fun tidbits with papa. It had never been that long but such has been life on both sides of the ocean, with timing, responsibilities, projects and happenings that we have been this long apart since I moved here. After a long delayed connecting flight and one suitcase missing, I was finally able to kiss them profusedly and start planning some fun things to do in between work and more work while they are here.
Once home, we sat down to a simple meal of quiche and salad and talked for almost three hours at the dinner table. Things don't change. Time slows down a bit when they are here and I am perfectly fine with that. Today felt like a Sunday and I have no doubt that tomorrow will feel like a Saturday...
When they visit, I still cook as I would for B. and myself and try to give my mom a real vacation. They do so much for the rest of the family when they are in France that I enjoy pampering them. My dad can read, walk to the dock and clear his mind of all his responsibilities back home. My mom just sits at the kitchen table and we talk and gossip while I bake or cook. She is my favorite prep cook (she does a mean chopping job) and loves to pick on all the little things that have changed around the house.
For their first dinner with us Sunday night, after hours of airplane and airports, I knew they would appreciate a little something sweet to end the meal. I figured they would be more tired than hungry so I prepared something light. Something that would bring sweet dreams, something almost as soft as crisp bed sheets and as comfortable as fluffy pillows. I layered squares of tempered white chocolate with dollops of vanilla bean and cardamom mousse and fresh raspberries. Crisp, soft, refreshing and light. A good night indeed...
...and the missing suitcase finally got on another flight and is finally here too...
White Chocolate, Vanilla Bean Cardamom Mousse and Raspberry Layers Recipe:
For the white chocolate squares:
1 pound (500gr) good quality chocolate, chopped
( I can't recommend one good brand over another, just make sure to use good quality. The one I used here was given to me by a sales rep and I found it a little too white and a little too sweet compared to Valrhona or Callebaut for example)
Place the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure that the bottom of your bowl fits snuggly over the pan and that it is never in direst contact with the water. Stir the chocolate constantly as it melts. Continue stirring the chocolate until is completely melted and registers 110F on a candy thermometer. Remove the bowl from the water bath let it cool to 82F. Set the chocolate over the warm water again and stir it until is reaches 88F. Spread the chocolate on a very clean and even surface in a very thin layer ( I use the back of a sheet pan that I only use for chocolate and caramel applications). Let it cool and harden completely before cutting 3 inch squares in the chocolate layer. Gently lift the squares and set them aside.
For the vanilla cardamon mousse and raspberries layers:
3 egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1/4 cup (25ml) cold water, divided
1/2 cup (100gr)sugar
3 cardamom pods, cracked open
1/2 vanilla bean, split open and seeded
1 cup (250ml) heavy cream
2 cups raspberries
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg yolks and the salt. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons of water, and let it sit while you make the syrup base of the mousse.
Combine the sugar, cardamom pods and the remaining 2 tablespoons of water in a heavy saucepan. Cover and bring to a rapid boil over medium high heat (prevents crystallization of the sugar on the side of the pan). Once boiling, uncover and cook until the mixture reaches 238F.
Strain the pods and seeds in a container with a spout, it will be easier to add to the yolks. Pour the syrup slowly and into a steady stream into the egg yolks with the machine running on medium high. Melt the gelatin in the microwave for 10 seconds or until dissolved. Add it to the yolk mixture along with the seeds from the vanill bean and continue to whisk on medium high until it triples in volume and cools to room temperature.
In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Add it to the mousse base and fold the two gently together. Pour the mousse in a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (I use Ateco #807).
Place one chocolate square on a plate and alternate pipings of mousse and raspberries, top with a second chocolate squares and repeat. Top with a last square of chocolate and a raspberry and chocolate shavings if desired.