It is likely that no one would describe me as thrifty.
I appreciate and am a bit envious of people who are, especially those who do it with style. You know the people I am talking about, the ones who put together a Goodwill outfit that look like Stella McCartney designed it herself. The ones who take the ‘As Is’ items from Ikea and with a little innovation turn them into accent pieces worthy of accolades from Henry Miller. The ones who buy end of the roll fabric and sew it into toddler dresses that would make Suri Cruise drool with envy.
I am not these people.
I am not a bargain-finding kind of gal. I don’t search through racks of clothes at Winner’s for that Burberry trench that is now 90% off and thus a steal of a deal. I don’t buy second-hand ugly book ends with grand ideas of painting, sanding and turning them into little gorgeous pieces of mantle art. I don’t buy canned goods when they are on sale because I am planning for a future pot of soup. I don’t clip coupons.
This said, I do do some things. I do mildly obsess over Air Miles and thus purchase quantities of things that earn my precious miles. This could be interpretted as saving, as I save us on flights. I do buy quality over quantity when it comes to clothes. I have less things in my closet, but I love them all. I do wait to place my J. Crew order until there is a promo code for some little deal. I do listen to my Dad’s advice and buy things that I need when they are on sale, just the other day I saved $50 on a vacuum. And I do not pay someone to clean up my back yard after my hound, yep I am scooping and saving big time there.
However, despite these spend-friendly activities my family and husband gleefully point out whenever I spend more than they would have on a particular item. Grocery shopping for example… the other day, my husband asked: Why do we buy these eggs? Because they are free-range, organic and super tasty. Why do we buy this cheese? Because it is aged, rennet-free and super tasty. Why do we buy this turkey bacon? Because it is low-fat, extra lean and super tasty. While I saw a trend developing: good for you and super tasty, Ben also saw a trend: good for you and super pricey. By the end of our little grocery store sojourn he was cracking up… he pointed out that while I don’t buy it because it is the most expensive of them all, for other reasons I end up buying it all the same. He thinks I am unconsciously drawn to dollar signs; I think I am discerning.
Anyway, I am writing this today to draw attention to an evening that was not drawn to those dollar signs. Every couple of months four of us girls get together for dinner. We usually eat somewhere fabulous. We usually share, order some wine and always save room for dessert. These evenings out are wonderful and usually end up costing us each about fifty bucks. So, this time, in the name of saving, we decided to make it pot-luck and do it at my place. We feasted on cheese and bread, a spring salad, a mozzarella-tomato tart and washed it all down with the most darling champagne you can buy in a little pink can, Sofia. And for dessert, I wanted to make something worthy of our usual post dinner indulgence but not so heavy that we wouldn’t be able to get through it. So, I opted for a Raspberry Chocolate Mousse Cake.
Ok, it wasn’t my idea to move the venue. It didn’t even cross my mind to bust out a pot-luck for girl’s night. But once it was suggested, I embraced it. Rather than spending about $50 on dinner, we each spent about $15 on ingredients…. that’s a difference of $35. I am pointing that out specifically, because I think it deserves to be noted by all those who mock me, that last Friday night I saved money. That’s right, it may even be said, by some, that I was a bit Friday night thrifty.
Raspberry Chocolate Mousse Cake
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
7 oz dark chocolate, chopped fine
6 Tbsp, butter cut into pieces
3/4 tsp instant espresso powder
4 eggs, separated
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325F. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment and grease lightly.
Melt chocolate, butter and espresso together over a water bath, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Then whisk in the egg yolks and the vanilla.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt on medium-low until foamy. Then add half the sugar and whip until combined (15 seconds), add the remaining sugar and increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form. This should take about 1 minute. Using a whisk fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture by hand to lighten. Using a spatula, fold the rest of the egg whites into the chocolate until no white streaks remain.
Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until risen and firm – centre of cake should spring back when pressed, about 12-14 minutes.
Place cake (in the pan) on a wire rack and allow to cool for 1 hour.
1 1/2 cups raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp water
1 packet unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Over medium heat in a small saucepan combine the raspberries and the sugar. Cook at a simmer until the raspberries have broken down and released their juices. Remove from heat and strain into a medium bowl to remove seeds. Press down on the berries.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Heat at lowest setting just until the gelatin dissolves. If it gets to hot the gelatin will turn grainy.
Stir the gelatin into the raspberry juice. Allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Fold raspberry mixture into the cream in 3 additions.
White Chocolate Mousse
3/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
1 Tbsp water
6 oz white chocolate, chopped finely
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over the water to bloom and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.
Place the white chocolate in a medium-sized heat proof bowl. Place a half cup of cream in a small sauce pan and heat to simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add gelatin, stirring until dissolved. Pour still hot cream mixture over the chocolate, cover and allow to stand for 3 minutes. With a whisk stir the chocolate until smooth. Let the chocolate come to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Whip the remaining cream until soft peaks form. With a whisk fold 1/3 of the cream into the chocolate mixture by hand. Add the rest of the cream and fold with a spatula until combined.
Line 6 3″ mousse rings with parchment or acetate. Cut out 3″ rounds of the cake and place at the bottom of the mousse ring on a pan lined with parchment. Divide the raspberry mousse among the rings. Place in the freezer while you prepare the white chocolate mousse, for at least 10 minutes. Divide the white chocolate mousse among the rings, smooth the top with a spatula. Return to freezer for at least two hours. Remove and press mousse cakes out of rings from the bottom up. Allow to stand at room temperature for 45 minutes before serving. If you would like to make one cake rather than 6 small ones, use a 9″ spring-form pan to bake the cake (bake for 13-18 minutes) and then build mousse on top of cake in that pan. And if you’d like, sprinkle a few chocolate shavings on top.