For winter break Maheen and I did quite a bit of traveling. Rajasthan. Delhi. And! We finally got to see Malaysia, which has been on our list of ‘Places to See’ since we started the list. The beaches of Langkawi and the island hopping tour; the tea plantations of Cameron Highlands and specifically the Boh Tea Cafe; Kuala Lumpur and the Islamic Arts Museum. It was amazing to see a Muslim country that wasn’t bogged down with poverty or having an identity crisis trying to balance a religion and keeping up with the times. Everywhere you turned, there was a sense of balance. Women were as likely to wear a scarf and long skirt as they were to wear a tanktop and shorts. Billboards and ads on buses showed a world where science labs and boardrooms were equal opportunity spaces for women in general, but more importantly (for me), they were equal opporunity spaces no matter how you dressed. Hah Maheen’s favorite advertisement was actually on a bottle of Coke – a Muslim woman doing her thing as a DJ, but was also wearing a scarf. The best part? It was all normal. No one blinked an eye.
Most who know me know that I go through (frequent) periods of self reflection / re-invention / basic doubt. Trying to put together pieces of my identity while maintaining a balance. My faith feeds my soul and lifts me up, but so do chocolate, things of beauty, music, theater, books, and traveling. Yes I’m Muslim. And yes I’m South Asian. And yes I’m a New Yorker. Through and through. I keep a close group of friends and have built up a community where I never have to choose between these identities – they all work together. But being in Malaysia was different. It was eye opening. A space where all my identities could cohesively exist without having to explain myself. It was freeing in a way.
But it also made me yearn for NY like nothing else has because that part of my identity can only live and be nurtured there. It made me want to run back home and continue to work towards building my community – to set up food related events and classes at the IC; book clubs with KC; restaurant hopping with HTrain; visit Chicago for IMAN’s Community Cafes. To continue building a balance of different sides of myself and having that reflect in the fabric of the world around me.
Until then, I give you this chocolate mousse – perfectly balanced with the richness of chocolate, the depth of eggs, and lightness of cream. It comforts me when I want something more than just a chocolate pudding, but not as involved as a souffle. The texture is just that – a cross between pudding and a souffle. Another bonus of this recipe? The eggs are heated either using a double broiler or by whisking with hot milk. While I’m still in India, I’m not going to chance it by eating raw eggs, no matter how tempting the recipe 😉
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used the 52% Callebaut that I have on hand)
1/3 cup (80 ml) whole milk
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten with a fork
4 egg whites
1 cup heavy cream, cold
- Place a medium-sized mixing bowl and a wire whisk in the freezer and let chill (this will help you whisk the cream more easily).
- Melt the chocolate on a double-boiler, take off heat and let stand.
- In a small saucepan, bring milk and sugar to the boil and take off heat. While whisking the yolks constantly, slowly drizzle the hot milk in and continue whisking until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Important: You need to add the hot milk in small amounts at first; otherwise the egg yolks will cook too quickly and the mixture will curdle. Once you’ve added half of the milk this way, the temperature of the egg yolks will rise enough to allow the rest of the milk to be added at once.
- Add melted chocolate and whisk to combine.
- In another mixing bowl set over a pan of simmering water, place the egg whites and whisk until hot-to-the-touch. Add the salt and whisk until stiff peaks form. Add 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and mix well. Fold in the rest gently with a spatula.
- Place the heavy cream in the chilled mixing bowl and whip with the chilled whisk until stiff peaks form. Add 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture and mix well. Fold in the rest gently with a spatula.
- Divide the mousse into 6 individual serving dishes (1/3 cup each), cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Serve cold. Additional whipped cream and/or berries won’t hurt. Will keep fresh in the refrigerator for a few days.