So, did everyone have a nice Easter/Passover holiday? I know we did. Instead of staying home for dinner, we got in the car and went to two of our favorite places, Chico Hot Springs and Yellowstone National Park. They are both located in the magical states of Montana & Wyoming. It’s a long drive (900k/530 miles), but to us, soooo worth it. At this time of year the park is such a great place to visit. There is only one section open in the park in the winter, but it never fails to amaze us. Mammoth hot springs is a site to behold on its own, but we also saw tons of Bison, pronghorns, elk, and birds, including hawks, osprey, and a bald eagle! The highlight though were the wolves. We were lucky enough to see a park wolf patrol officer with his scope and got to view a male and pregnant female couple eating a kill (with the bald eagle trying to get at it). Amazing. Seriously. We never forget how lucky we are to live out West and love seeing all of the truly awe-inspiring places around us.
And a few more pictures for your viewing pleasure…
One of the best perks is that the place where we stay has no TV, telephones, or computers. Well, you get dial-up in the lobby but it’s sort of a pain, so why bother. You realize that you don’t need to be “connected” at all times. You realize that the best way to be “connected” is to spend time with your family and friends. With no outside distractions. Kids even soon forget that there is no TV or video when their parents are there with them. Swimming, playing board games, puzzles, reading. Sounds old-fashioned, but it really works. We always meet such interesting people just hanging out in the lobby sitting around the fireplace.So much so that when I got home, I didn’t even want to plug in my laptop for a few days or watch the boob tube. I highly recommend this for everyone every once in a while. I think you will be glad that you did. Okay- enough said on that!
With us missing Easter dinner at home, we just moved it a week. It was time for our monthly dinner supper club anyway, so we did everything a week later. It worked out better for everyone involved anyway. On the menu this month:
apricot apple-bourbon glazed ham (we also had apple-bourbon hot toddys to start)
braised red cabbage with raisins and apples
shredded brussel sprouts with bacon
and for dessert……
Cherry Chocolate Mousse Cake!!
equipment needed: one 9″ springform pan, two 8″ inch cake pans, parchment paper and acetate (you can substitute parchment paper), and a 9″ cardboard cake circle or cake plate.
Before you begin, cut a length of acetate or parchment paper 3 1/2 inches high and 33 inches long. Take this and line the inside of your springform pan. Cut a 9 inch circle of parchment paper and place it in the bottom of the pan. Set this aside until the final assembly. This step makes removing the cake from the springform pan a breeze
This makes 2 cakes. If they bake perfectly even then you can cut one in half horizontally and freeze the other half for a later time. Since mine usually are domed, I just trim the tops off each one to even them out and use both layers, saving the leftover scraps for a later use (cake pops, sides of cakes, over ice cream…)
1/2 cup boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup hot, strongly brewed coffee
Preheat your oven to 325 F. Grease 2 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper …
Whisk the boiling water, chocolate and butter together until melted and set aside.Whip the egg, sugar and vanilla until the mixture doubles in volume (about 2 minutes on high-speed) and then fold in the chocolate mixture by hand. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt over the batter and fold in, then stir in the hot coffee (this will thin the batter out). Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans.
Bake the cakes for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans.
* To make the puree, I boiled up about 3 large cups of frozen, pitted cherries with 1/2 cup of sugar, whirled it up in the blender then strained it through a fine sieve. Cool to room temp. I swear, it was easy. Do this while the cake is in the oven.
2 Cups (16 oz) sweetened cherry puree (see above)
3 Cups (24 oz) heavy cream (33-36%)
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons kirsch (optional)
2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup water
Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small bowl and either place in a small pan of simmering water and stir until dissolved or place the bowl in the microwave for about 15 -20 seconds (just do not let it boil). Let this cool down for about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, place the sweetened cherry puree. Stir in the gelatin, almond extract, and kirsch (if using). In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft, billowy peaks form; fold lightly into the cherry mixture.
Either cut one layer of cake horizontally or trim down the two layers so that you have 2 thin even layers.
Spoon half of the cherry mousse into the bottom of your prepared springform pan. Carefully place (drop, really) one layer of the cake into the center. You will have a border of mousse all around the cake. Gently press down. Spoon the remaining cherry mousse over this layer. Repeat with the second layer of cake, again gently pressing down so that the cake and mousse border are level.
Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight, to set up.
While the cake is setting up, make the glaze…
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons unflavoured gelatin powder
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Bring the water, sugar, and cream to a boil in a medium pan. Once boiling, whisk in the cocoa powder and simmer (reducing the heat if needed) for 4 minutes, stirring often, (the consistency will not change). Remove from heat. Soften the gelatin in ¼ cup of cold water and then whisk this into the hot cocoa mixture until dissolved. Cool the glaze to room temperature, then chill completely, at least 3 hours. It will set up like chocolate gelatin (and it tastes great)
To finish the cake: Open up the springform pan and remove the cake. Gently peel away the acetate (or parchment) that is around the sides of the cake. Place the cardboard round (or cake plate) onto the top of the cake and invert it onto a cooling rack. If you don’t have an exact 9 inch round cake plate, then invert it directly onto the cooling rack. Place the cooling rack over a parchment lined baking sheet. Warm the chilled glaze over low heat,while whisking occasionally, until just melted and smooth and pour this over the cake , spreading gently with a spatula to ensure that it covers the top and sides of the cake evenly. I poured half over, chilled it a bit, then put a second coat on it. Scoop up any leftover glaze that dipped through onto the parchment paper and reuse. You can chill and reuse this glaze over and over. Chill the cake for at least 30 minutes, then lift it onto your presentation plate and store chilled until ready to serve. This keeps in the fridge for up to four days.
This was a real visual show-stopper while also a light and delicious way to end a big meal. Enjoy!
recipe adapted from here