Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Julia Child's Chocolate Mousse

On this 100th anniversary of her birth, I decided to make Julia Child's chocolate mousse. This recipe holds a very special place in my heart. In the old days there were no repeats of television shows, there was no way of taping a program, and there were no videos or dvds to be had. Which meant that if you liked a recipe on a tv show, and the only cooking show in town in those days was Julia's, you had to write really, really fast as she was cooking and talking.

You can see by my printing on the front that I was still in my previously mentioned 'ee cummings phase.'


When you open it up, you see five sides of paper in Tom's writing. On the first page, those are my notes on the side. 'This makes 6 small custard cups - not full cups. Double - 8 full custard cups.' (which as you will see wasn't true today. who knows why, but today I got 8 quite full cups without doubling)

You may click the photos to see more clearly.






This is the beauty of handwritten recipes and cookbooks with notations. No iPad can ever duplicate the joy of a long-ago handwritten note. There is room for both in the world, but it would be a sad loss if a 'machine' took the place of the history which may be found in old cookbooks and recipe boxes.






My notes (which I didn't even write on the recipe because I know them so well):
used salted butter because that's what was in the house
didn't have any cream of tartar
didn't 'melt' the sugar
and I don't put the egg yolks and sugar mix in a 'pan of hot water.'

Chocolate Mousse was so new in those days that we still referred to it as we first heard it, 'mousse au chocolat.' Now it is as familiar to all of us as chocolate ice cream. There's another recipe here on the blog that is a bit different from Julia's.


Just before I began making the chocolate mousse, I heard Bob Spitz on The Diane Rehm show. He is the author of the new biography of Julia called Dearie. It was a wonderful interview, and you may listen here. At the end, Diane read an email from a woman who overheard a mother tell her child at the Smithsonian exhibit of Julia's kitchen, 'this is a holy place.'




You may have seen this adorable picture which is on google today.

There are some great tributes on the PBS site. And PBS also offers entire programs of The French Chef here.

To end my little celebration of the birthday of this wonderful woman, I'd like to share a video someone put together for the occasion, set to an inspired choice of music - Sweet Child of Mine by Guns N' Roses.

24 comments:

  1. This is a fun post. Julia would be proud that you wrote down her recipe and have kept it all this time. Another Julia admirer that I read posted a picture of a rose that bears her name. It is yellow, quite buttery looking, appropriate I think.I love hand written recipes. All I have left of my Mother's writing are two recipes. I treasure them.

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    1. Thank you! I had fun putting it together.
      I looked up the rose. It is beautiful. Might you get one??
      Precious recipes those.

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  2. I love your handwriten recipe you have shown us and nothing can take the place of it!
    I know just what you mean about writing a recipe quickly in those days. I used to do it, and sometimes, I would miss a step in the recipe and all would be lost! (In other words, a very bad dish!)

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  3. I love this post in too many ways to list! Everything about it is perfect. Thanks for the memories, for showing your handwritten recipe, for all the links ... for all of it!!!

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    1. You are so very kind, always. Thank you.

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  4. A wonderful tribute to a fine woman : I could never keep up either ~ too many distractions. By the time I realized I could duplicate something she was doing it was too late to find pen and paper so all was lost. In her later years documentaries were too engrossing to miss a moment even making the effort. I loved her wit.

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    1. We must not have done it often since the choc. mousse recipe is the only one I have that we copied from any cooking show. :<) Amazing to think of those days, isn't it.

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  5. Great post. It really cheers me that the world seems to be growing ever warmer to JC. How many famous people get more celebrated after they die? (hmmm note the similarity in the initials).

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    1. Thank you! You are ever witty. :<) I saw her in St. J in July 2001 with Judith Jones. Too bad we didn't go together! I felt like I was in the presence of greatness. There she was almost 90 and as bright as the sun. Funny, warm, intelligent. One of my best memories.

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  6. I didn't really know anything about Julia Child until my friend took me to see the film Julie and Julia when I was staying with her in New Hampshire. She was a fascinating woman and had a really interesting life. I'd love to see some of her cookery programmes, I seem to remember that they were on TV some years ago but I didn't watch them because I'd never heard of her. Shall have to keep a look out for re-runs.

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    1. Well, you know, when she first came to television, there wasn't such immediate information as now. It was a little cooking show on a Boston public television network so it took a long time for the world to 'meet' her.
      If you go here

      http://www.pbs.org/search/?q=julia+child&mediatype=Video

      there are whole shows. I'm going to add a link in the post.

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  7. A very fitting tribute to Julia Child! An iPad recipe will never, ever evoke the feelings and memories associated with a good old-fashioned hand written recipe. For that reason, I never use mine in the kitchen. Mention of your ee cummings phase made me smile again.

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    1. I see ads for the iPad in the kitchen. Now there are even spatter shields!

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  8. very fun post that indeed brought back childhood memories of the French Chef. Loved your handwritten notes. The mousse looked yummy. Bon Appetit!

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  9. Having seen the film with Meryl Streep as Julia Child, I wondered, "here on earth did she get that peculiar accent from?" This is the first time I've actually heard the real Julia speak, and Meryl has it to perfection - what a strange voice Julia had, I thought she was a Scot or of Scot descent, but this is like nothing I've ever heard before. And is that how she normally behave in the kitchen? OK, she was no doubt hamming (!) it up! But a treat to see her (for me) for the first time! But for someone as off the wall as this, do her recipes work? Or are they as shambolic as her cooking appears to be?
    Margaret P

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    1. If you listen to the Diane Rehm show interview, you'll hear that she never thought her voice to be unique. That's just how she talked. She grew up in California.
      Yes, that's how she 'behaved.' That's why she was so refreshing. You could make mistakes. You could drop things and pick them up again!
      She wasn't 'off the wall' at all. She was very serious. She spent loads of time learning and perfecting her cooking. Since many of her recipes are meat or fish, I haven't tried most of them. But I can attest that her chocolate mousse is delicious!
      When she came along most people in the US ate canned or frozen food. She taught many how to cook from scratch with real ingredients. She took the fear out of cooking.

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  10. Just caught your last line of the comment above, Nan, and, for me, Julia Child did just that. "She took the fear out of cooking."

    Wonderful, wonderful post. I had forgotten those earlier days of public television, when a pad and pencil was always nearby to write down the ingredients, instructions, etc. It is so wonderful that you kept this recipe as you first heard it.

    I have many recipes from family and friends, written in their own script, or mine. One of my favorites is my mom's, calling for "5 or 6 cups of Swands Down Cake flower". I keep it safe for it is precious to me.

    Here's to Julia!

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    1. Oh, I love your mother's words. They actually bring tears to my eyes with all they symbolize. Wish we lived closer so I could look at your recipes.

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  11. I saw that picture on Google and wondered what it was about. I'm never able to follow a recipe properly and have it come out like it should. Sigh... Your mousse looks amazing! And I love chocolate mousse.

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  12. I think I made this mousse once after you shared the recipe with me several years ago. Or maybe it was the other recipe. In any case, it was delicious!!!

    What a great YouTube montage of Julia Child! I've ordered The French Chef dvd set from B&N. I never watched her on tv and would love to spend a weekend watching her cook. Thanks for the great post, Nan!

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    1. I remember that other mousse failing when you made it. Did you try it again with success?
      How wonderful you bought the set. I'm so happy that she is so acclaimed.

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Now that I am a grandmother, it seems that I am often late in replying to your most-appreciated comments. But I read them as soon as they come in, and I will write as soon as I can. Please do come back and check. I love these blogging conversations. A little addendum - I've just spent quite a long time catching up with dear notes you left me months ago!! I do hope you can get back to read them. And I'm trying to be much more prompt now!

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