Despite basically being a bitter old hag, I think it’s important to remember that life is great, and there’s often joy in the most unexpected of places.
The most recent unexpected place for me was on a roof top in London Fields last Thursday. I was celebrating one of my clients’ 10th Birthday. As a surprise, the directors had given everyone the following day off. The office was closed, people could party with wild abandon without having to go into the office on Friday morning. It was such a brilliant gift to their hard-working employees.
But I didn’t party. Not because I didn’t want to, but I had something other than a hangover planned for my Friday. I was going to a very close friend’s baby shower on the Saturday and I decided I was going to make my super duper Salted Caramel Brownies to take as an offering.
When we first moved to London we lived in a huge houseshare. People used to say to me, “Do you still live in that crazy house with 15 Australians?” I used to always have stories for people about the pass agg notes, the arguments over what the communal funds were being spent on and we always had incredible houseparties.
There were actually eight of us in total, in a huge Victorian terrace in Highbury, and not everyone was Aussie. I can safely say it was the best of times and it was the worst of times.
When we lived there – for Andrew and I lived there together and became the reluctant “parents” of the house, until the “kids” became too unruly and we flew the nest – we couldn’t have friends over for dinner really. Not without either feeling like you were denying six other people use of the dining table, or having to cook for your guests plus whoever was about so they didn’t feel excluded. And it wasn’t anyone’s fault – it was just the situation. If you live in an eight-person houseshare you can’t really live an adult life.
Since we’ve moved to our own place we’ve enjoyed having people over. Gone are the 200-person fancy dress houseparties (much to most people’s disappointment) and here are more intimate gatherings. This doesn’t so much reflect the fact that we’re too old for houseparties, but more the fact our flat is sadly not a five-storey Victorian terrace and also we have new cream carpet that isn’t conducive to people slopping snakebite everywhere.
However, now we can have gatherings without feeling guilty, and I’ve been really enjoying cooking for people and having them over for drinks. And one thing I made recently, which went down a treat with Andrew’s siblings (one of whom is the devil pictured above!) is my chocolate and amaretto mouse. So I thought I’d share the recipe with you…
Chocolate and Amaretto Mouse
Serves 8 | Time: 30mins plus chilling time (1 hr minimum)
You will need…
6 eggs, separated
200ml double cream
100g caster sugar
2 shots of amaretto
200g dark chocolate (at least 70% dark cocoa solids)
16 small amaretti biscuits
3 tbsp Nutella spread
How to make…
1. Break the chocolate up and melt in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. You don’t need to watch this happening – just check every now and then that it’s not burning. It should take about 10 mins max.
2. With the egg whites in a very clean and fairly large bowl, whip them until they form stiff peaks. This is to say that when you lift the beaters out of the mix, the mix will have stiff trails that you have left behind. This is what will make the mousse light and fluffy, so make sure you get them eggs nice ‘n’ whipped.
3. In another bowl, mix the egg yolks with the sugar and amaretto so it’s all combined.
4. In yet another bowl, whip the cream until it’s thick but not as thick as the egg whites. Soft peaks it’s called.
5. In whichever bowl in the largest, mix in the egg yolk mixture with the chocolate and the cream, so it’s all combined.
6. Then really gently fold in the egg whites. Take your time with this as you don’t want to knock out the air you just spent all your time getting in there by whisking them so well. Fold until it’s all combined.
7. Spoon into whatever receptacle you liked. I used tea cups, but ramekins would work just as well.
8. Cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge to chill for at least 1hr.
9. Before serving, use Nutella to sandwich together two ameretti biscuits together, then pop them at the side of the desert. Enjoy!