Magnificent mousse. Picture: Supplied
Magnificent mousse. Picture: Supplied

Chef shares her favourite winter comfort foods that can put you in a good mood

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Jul 7, 2021

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While many of us love the cosier months, for others the darker days and freezing temperatures lead to the winter blues – feeling sluggish, tired, and a bit down.

But did you know that our kitchens offer us a place to huddle and be sheltered from the storms, both physical and otherwise?

Food can nourish us and feed our creativity by connecting us with the larger world. The familiar warm embrace of an oven can provide our souls with a comfort nearly impossible to come by from anything else.

Celebrity chef and cookbook author Grace Stevens shares recipes and her top tips on some of the foods that put you in a good mood.

Magnificent mousse

Oscar Wilde is infamous for having said: “Everything in moderation, including moderation” and I agree that we should make a time and a place for all food. Although my chocolate mousse recipe is certainly not an everyday occurrence in my household, it has a way of reminding me that spoiling ourselves occasionally is part of a healthy lifestyle. Its super-smooth yet light texture perfectly echoes and offsets the deep chocolate flavour. Although it is divine served on its own, add a little whipped cream and berries for tartness. It is sublime.

Ingredients

Chocolate mousse

4 egg yolks

60ml castor sugar

500ml cream

225g dark chocolate, finely chopped

5ml vanilla extract

Almond tuiles

1 egg white

50g icing sugar

50g butter, melted

50g almond flour, well sifted

2ml vanilla extract

30g shaved almonds

To finish

150ml cream

15ml castor sugar

2ml vanilla extract

Grated chocolate

Method

Chocolate mousse

Place the egg yolks, 30ml of the sugar, and 180ml of the cream in a medium saucepan and mix well.

Over medium heat, cook the egg mixture until it is thick. Remove from the heat.

Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and vanilla extract.

Cover with cling film over the surface of the custard and allow to cool.

Whip the remaining cream and sugar until soft peaks.

Fold a third of the cream into the cooled custard and mix to loosen the custard.

Fold the custard into the remaining cream.

Divide the mousse between six serving dishes. Martini glasses also make a dramatic serving dish.

Place in the fridge until read to serve.

Tuiles

Preheat the oven to 180ºC

In a medium bowl, mix the butter, sugar and vanilla extract.

Add the egg white and almond flour, and mix well to a paste.

Rest in the fridge until needed.

Drop teaspoon amounts of batter onto a silicone mat or silicone paper and spread into a circular shape, getting the batter as thin as possible.

Sprinkle with shaved almonds.

Bake for 4 minutes, until the tuile turns golden brown; you will have to watch them carefully.

Remove from the oven, and quickly slide a pallet knife under the tuile and wrap around a wooden spoon or small rolling pin to shape. Rest on a dish towel until firm. Repeat with remaining tuiles. You will have to work quickly.

Repeat with the rest of the batter or until you have enough tuiles to serve.

To finish

Whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff.

Place the cream in a piping bag with a star nozzle.

Pipe a swirl of cream on top of each mousse. Top with grated chocolate.

Place a tuile on each dessert just before serving.

Serve immediately.

Celebratory carrot cake

A recipe that is nostalgic for me is my carrot cake. When I was pregnant with my first child, I would crave carrot cake, to the point where it would be all I could think of. The problem was, I couldn’t find one that balanced the sweetness and spices just the way I wanted. And so my carrot cake recipe was born. It amazes me how so many years later, I feel a familiar tingle of excitement every time I enjoy a slice. If you want to make this delicious recipe to the next level, try roasting the nuts beforehand to bring out their natural oils and intensify their rich rounded nutty flavour. Te smell that fills your home with expectation makes the cake all the more delightful.

Ingredients

Cake

4 eggs

315g brown sugar

250ml oil

500ml cake flour

5ml cinnamon

5ml ground ginger

3ml ground clove

3ml bicarb

10ml baking powder

400g grated carrot

1 grated apple

100g raisins

75g chopped walnuts

Cream cheese buttercream

100g full cream cheese

50g butter

300g icing sugar

Zest of 1 orange

30ml orange juice

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare 2 x 20cm round cake tins or 1 x 25cm Bundt tin.

Cream the eggs and sugar together until light.

Sift the dry ingredients and add the raisins after tossing them in the flour to coat.

Turn the mixer down to low and add oil in a steady stream until combined.

Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time.

Fold in the carrots, nuts, and apples.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean (35 minutes for 20cm round tin).

Remove from tin and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Combine the buttercream ingredients and beat well.

Spread onto the cooled cake and top with nuts or orange zest.

Sensational citrus

Recipes that use fruit have an amazing way of giving you a snack of summer delight to savour in the chilly winter months. Personally, citrus flavours are just what I need to boost my spirits on a winter’s day. In my lemon and blueberry cake, citrus flavours dance together with the brilliance of blueberries to make a treat that is full of antioxidants and has summer baked straight into it.

Ingredients

Cake

120g butter

250ml castor sugar

2 large eggs

1ml baking powder

2 ml salt

500ml cake flour

125ml milk

300g blueberries

Zest of 1 lemon

30ml lemon juice

Icing

100g soft butter

375ml icing sugar

50ml lemon juice

Method

Cake

Heat oven to 180°C.

Grease a Bundt tin and dust with flour

Add the lemon juice and zest to the milk (it will curdle, this is fine).

In an electric mixer, whisk the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Sift the dry ingredients.

Beginning with the flour, add the flour and milk to the butter mixture.

Fold in the blueberries.

Spoon into the prepared tin.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean.

Remove from tin and place onto a cooling rack

You will ice the smooth “bottom” of the cake.

Buttercream

Beat the butter and icing sugar together well before adding the lemon juice.

Spread onto the cooled cake.

Decorate with blueberries and more lemon zest.

Varieties

Replace the blueberries with raspberries.

Replace the lemon zest with orange zest.

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