I don't tend to think of myself as a superstitious person. When I was a little girl, I was careful not to step on cracks in the sidewalk, and I tend to walk around ladders as opposed to underneath them, but that's about it. Because today is the only Friday the 13th of 2008; however, I thought I'd search around the Internet for a listing of the most bizarre superstitions. Here is what I found, along with a few of my personal observations:
- A dog eating grass brings rain. (In my house, a dog eating grass brings a big ol' mess on the family room carpet.)
- You must wear new clothes as Easter, or you will have bad luck. (I will remember this next spring, as an excuse for needing to go shopping. I might amend this a bit to "You must wear new clothes and really cute shoes....")
- Giving away a wedding present is bad luck. (Ummmm..... in our case, receiving some of those presents was bad luck.)
- You shouldn't wash your hair the day before an exam. (In business school, I had no problem with this one. I was so stressed that most of my hair began to fall out anyhow.)
- Carrying a badger's tooth is good luck for gamblers. (I just thought of a great little side business that I could start on the Strip. Anyone know where I might find some badgers?)
- If you sweep trash out the door after dark, it will bring a stranger to visit. (Yes, our Homeowner's Association, telling us to clean up our trash.)
- An onion cut in half and placed under the bed of a sick person will draw off fever and poisons. (and visitors)
- If you don't eat chocolate on Friday the 13th, then you will have bad luck all year. (O.K., I made that one up to support today's recipe.)
Do you remember that commercial for Rice Krispies Treats, where they show the mother in the kitchen, reading a romance novel, with a completed plate of the treats next to her? She puts down her book, spreads flour on her face, brings the plate out to her family, and with a tired expression says "They're finally done!" The gist of the commercial was that the treats only took her 5 minutes to make, but everyone thought she slaved over them.
This dessert reminds me of that commercial. The two components, the cherry-port sauce and the cinnamon chocolate mousse, each take very little time and are prepared in advance. With 4 ingredients apiece, how hard can they be? When you are ready to serve, easy assembly leads to an impressive presentation. It is hard to believe that such a rich and airy mousse is so unfussy. Go ahead and let your guests think that you slaved over it. It's a great way to get out of doing the dishes! Here are my tips for making this deceptively simple but decadent dessert:
- Both the cherry-port sauce and the cinnamon chocolate mousse can be prepared up to one day in advance and refrigerated, tightly covered.
- Instead of using Port for the sauce, feel free to substitute cherry juice or cranberry juice (or cran-cherry juice, such as the Ocean Spray brand.)
- For an extra "kick" of flavor in the mousse, add one tablespoon of Kahlua, Grand Marnier, or Chambord to the saucepan, just after melting the chocolate with the cream.
- If you can't find good fresh cherries, or if they are too expensive, feel free to substitute the more economical frozen cherries or canned cherries. If the canned cherries are sweetened, omit or halve the preserves.
- If the cherry sauce becomes too sweet for your taste, add a dash of lemon juice.
- Try to use a good quality chocolate for this recipe, as there are so few ingredients. I like to buy the "Pound Plus" bars at Trader Joe's--good quality at a good price.
Cinnamon Chocolate Mousse with Cherry-Port Sauce
8 ounces fresh Bing cherries, pitted
1/3 cup cherry preserves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup ruby Port
For the mousse
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Prepare the cherry sauce: Combine the cherries, cherry preserves, cinnamon, and Port in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and boil until the juices thicken to a syrup consistency, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a small bowl, and chill until cold, about 3 hours.
Prepare the mousse: Combine 1/4 cup cream and the cinnamon in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and salt and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, beat the remaining 1 cup heavy cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold 1/4 of the whipped cream into the warm chocolate mixture. Fold the remaining whipped cream into the chocolate mixture in 3 additions until just incorporated. Chill until set, about 4 hours. Divide the mousse among four glasses or bowls, layering with the cherry sauce, and serve.