Bitter experience has taught me one thing: Don’t Cook Anything for Work Events. Ever. Getting home late after a full day at work does not make for a happy and relaxed evening.
Being pathetically susceptible to flattery though, I was talked into making chocolate mousse (plus raspberry coulis) for 20 people for a work thing.
7pm: get ingredients on the way home. The bus is full, I’m knackered and weighed down with plastic bags that are starting to shred. First twinges of resentment appear.
8pm: start making quintuple quantities of the mousse. The kilo of chocolate won’t melt. Because it’s really good chocolate, it doesn’t have anything in it to melt; it’s solid. I stare at it hopefully for 30 minutes (a well known cooking technique) but it clearly isn’t getting any better; it’s still a near-solid mass. Panicking slightly, a handmixer seems just the thing to sort it all out but only succeeds in getting blobs of chocolate in my hair and all over the kitchen.
I call Neil in and demonstrate how the handmixer’s not helping and he gets a bit cross at the mess.
I separate the eggs but two are off (this NEVER happens to me) and there are none left.
Neil recognises the signs of imminent nervous breakdown due to culinary overload. In his calm and thoughtful way, he suggests putting some milk in the chocolate to help break it down. This works. He heads out into the night to find more eggs.
The chocolate melts, new eggs arrive and finally, it’s full steam ahead.
9.30pm: All done. It dawns on me that I can’t carry this huge bucket of chocolate mousse in to work on the bus in the morning.
10pm: Neil drives me into the city and I abandon the wretched thing in the office fridge. I’m exhausted. Neil’s not too chuffed either.
Next day I’m in early to check on the mousse (am obsessed by this point). I use a tin of that aerosol plastic cream muck and decorate the top. After 5 minutes it loses its shape and turns the top of my precious mousse into white soup.
But ultimately, despite not looking crash hot, everyone loves it and the bowl is licked clean. The raspberry coulis was a less than sparkling success though – a colleague asking “what’s that red stuff – tomato sauce?”
Thank you Neil for your (so far) limitless patience. I won’t do it again.