Phew, birthday parties.
Well, if you're struggling through those early years nightmares - lots of children, lots of screaming, whether to make the sandwiches in brown (middle class brownie points) or white (at least you won't have loads left) bread, marmite or jam, and more fairy cakes than any woman should ever have to face, let me tell you that once they get to 9, things are a whole lot easier. Yes, there's cake to be made, and favourite food (within reason) to be chosen, but when you can basically palm a small group of friends off on a wannabe stunt man masquerading as a climbing instructor (yes, really!) at your friendly, local (ish) climbing wall, and not even have to do party bags, well life is a whole lot easier.
So easy in fact that although last night I had a cake to make, cinammon buns to knock up for the chosen birthday breakfast this morning, and a couple of presents to wrap, there was also time for the Husband and I to have a 'date night'. He's been away a lot recently, off again tomorrow for the best part of the week, and we're out for dinner with friends this evening, so it seemed like a good opportunity to get some nice food organised, a decent bottle of wine, and spend some time together.
The kids got fish fingers, oven chips and baked beans - well, the oven was on for the cake so it seemed like an economical option - and I paid a visit to the butcher earlier in the day and got some lovely sirloin steak, which we ate with rosemary roasted new potatoes and loads of watercress. I'm not going to tell you how to cook what is basically steak and chips, but I am going to tell you about pudding, because I was quite pleased that I managed to remember to make something, and having remembered, that I managed to find some appropriate ingredients in the cupboards. It's also one of those puddings that offers disproportionate reward for fairly little effort.
Chocolate Mousse and Amaretti biscuits
serves 2, pretty generously
50g dark chocolate
50g white chocolate
35g unsalted butter
2 large eggs, separated
10g caster sugar
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over some water that has been brought up to simmering point, but then taken off the heat. Stir from time to time, and when the chocolate is melted, take the bowl off the pan of water and set aside to cool.
Add the sugar to the egg yolks and whisk together till the yolks become thick and a little paler, then mix into the melted chocolate and butter. Whisk the egg whites to stiff-ish peaks. Whisk a spoonful into the chocolate mixture, then fold the rest of the egg whites in using a metal spoon. Divide the mixture between 2 ramekins and leave in the fridge to chill and set - ideally leave for at least a couple of hours.
with Amaretti biscuits. I did think I might do something more exotic
with them, but after a couple of glasses of the lovely bottle of
Secateurs that my friendly local wine merchant, recommended, it all
seemed like too much effort.