Grace .................. do you know what it means? Have you ever look up the definition? It's defined as, "underserved merit or favor".
My husband and I often shake our heads in wonder as we contemplate the amazing grace that was poured on us on a cold November day thirty-three years ago. And if that wasn't enough, it happened again, four years later. We couldn't have even imagined back then how these gifts of grace would fill us with joy and delight, while at the same time, would require every ounce of strength, energy and creativity we could muster.
As the years unfolded, we became increasing aware of the awesome responsibility we'd been entrusted with. It sure didn't take long to learn that we had neither the resources nor the wisdom to successfully accomplish the mission. So we found ourselves continually visiting the throne room of the great Giftgiver, imploring the help of One much wiser than us, who, to this day, holds the owner's manual for our gifts of grace.
You might be guessing by now that I"m talking about our children. It's a special week at The Café as we celebrate their birthdays. Cait and Nick were born just a day (and four years) apart and are now grown with families of their own. We continue to be thankful for the blessings and joy they bring us.
For their birthdays, I decided to travel back a bit in time and make French Silk, one of Cait and Nick's favorite childhood desserts. It's a yummy chocolate treat that hasn't lost it's appeal or specialness, despite the years. I've made a zillion variations of this simple, yet decadent dessert, and it always receives rave reviews. With our daughter living in London now, she didn't get to indulge with us this week, but I've tucked some away in the freezer for her arrival next week (we can't wait!).
The fact that Candy Cane French Silk can be made ahead and stored in the freezer is one of the things I love about it. It's rich, and a little goes a long way, so I love to pipe or spoon it into fancy little dessert bowls or cups and pop them in the freezer during this time of the year. Once they're frozen solid, I store them in airtight containers. When preparing holiday dinners, I simply transfer them to the refrigerator at dinner time and serve them to my chocolate-loving guests with a bit of whipped cream, a sprig of mint and a tiny candy cane.
I added crushed peppermint candies along with bits of chocolate wafer cookies to my French Silk for the birthday treat this week, but the variations are really endless. In the past, I've included fresh raspberries, strawberries, tiny chocolate chips, toffee bits, and swirls of jam. It can be used as a tart filling by pouring it into a chocolate cookie crust or even a pie shell. I've layered it with ice cream, brownies and butter cream icing for a decadent, beautifully layered ice cream cake. Are you getting the picture? It's what we call a Little Black Dress Recipe here at The Café, delicious on it's own, served simple and pure, fabulous dressed up, down or any which way!
One last thing- if you've ever made French Silk you might be aware that it's usually prepared with raw eggs. The eggs are added individually and beaten till fluffy after each addition. It's what makes the dessert so light and airy. Some people have a problem with raw eggs and it's advised particularly that pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems stay away from them. You can purchase pasteurized eggs, though they may be difficult to find. You can also pasteurize your own eggs............... in the microwave! I tried the microwave method this time and, though I made a double batch of French Silk, it took only minutes to pasteurize six eggs. Check it out here.
So it's "hats off" to Cait and Nick, our "grace" children, wishing you a most happy birthday! We love you both so much!
P.S. See the fun little cups that I served the Candy Cane French Silk in? I found a whole set of these, brand new at a yard sale for $1.00! I love to buy inexpensive, fun tableware at yard sales, consignment shops, thrift store, etc. Check out places like this when you get a chance. You never know what kind of fun "treasure" you might find!
- 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips melted and cooled
- ½ cup cold* butter
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large cold eggs* pasteurized (or you can use this method to pasteurize your own eggs.)
- ¼ cup crushed peppermint candy canes** you can also use the round disk-shaped peppermint candies
- ½ cup crushed chocolate wafer cookies**
- tiny candy canes for garnish
- whipped cream if desired
Melt chocolate either in a double boiler or in the microwave. To melt in the microwave, place in a micro-wave safe bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds. Stir well and return to microwave for another 30 seconds. Remove, stir again and if not completely melted return to microwave for 10 seconds at a time, stirring after each 10 seconds until completely melted. Set aside to cool.
With an electric mixer, beat cold butter for two minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and add sugar. Beat for 5 minutes, stopping several times to scrape sides of bowl.
Add cooled, melted chocolate and beat again for two minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of mixing bowl.
Add eggs one at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition. If you are using eggs that you've pasteurized yourself, add the yolks first and beat well for a minute, then add ⅓ of the whites at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition. Thorough beating at high speed is essential. If it looks curdled don't give up.
Fold in crushed peppermints and crushed chocolate water cookies. Spoon or pipe into small bowls or cups. Freeze for at least an hour. Once frozen, cover and store in an airtight container. Remove from freezer about 10 minutes before serving or transfer to refrigerator an hour before serving.
* ~ In many baking recipes, butter is brought to room temperature but with French Silk, keeping the butter (and eggs) cold before combining is important in this recipe. If the ingredients are warm, the texture will be soupy instead of fluffy and airy.
** ~ The above is a fun holiday dessert, but I do a lot of variations. Sometimes I use an Oreo crust and add fresh strawberries, raspberries, tiny chocolate chips or toffee bits to the chocolate mixture before pouring it into the cookie crust. I've also layered the French Silk mixture with ice cream and crushed chocolate wafer cookies in tall glasses. It's also wonderful with raspberry jam which I'll swirl in and then layer with crumbled brownies or crushed cookies in pretty parfait glasses with a dollop of whipped cream. Let you imagination go wild!
*** ~ To pipe the French Silk, I cut of a tiny corner of a large heavy-duty zip lock bag and fit it with a large decorator tip. I spoon in the chocolate mixture, then close the top, squeeze out most of the air and pipe the mixture into small bowls or cups. Make sure you use a very large tip (I use one like this) or the mixture will clog up and could cause your bag to burst, making a huge schweinerei!