Drunken Pasta and Berry Shortcake with Chocolate Mousse and Whipped Cream

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I think I have a problem. And no, I’m not referring to my chocoholism, alcoholism or yogaholism (does this word exist yet?). When it comes to cooking or baking I have an extremely, almost impossible, time following 1 recipe. Regardless of how simple it could be I always feel the need to make another ingredient from scratch or add an extra layer to the cake I’m making. Maybe I just like to make things more difficult for myself (I guess we can now add massochism to my rapidly growing list of “isms”).

Who knows why I do it, but I do. Even when I find an amazing recipe that I know will be delicious, I still feel the need to spend another hour searching foodgawker for similar recipes that I can combine until I end up with 14 tabs open on my computer for one type of soup that I am forced to constantly switch between in addition to making sure I don’t burn anything, tossing my cat off of the counter every other minute and remembering to take pictures or every step. Yes, I definitely like to make my life harder than it needs to be in the kitchen.

You might be asking what the point of this long-winded confession was. And I shall tell you. I found this recipe for strawberry shortcake with whipped cream that I had wanted to make for a while. And when my friend invited me to come over for dinner on Sunday I thought it was the perfect time. However, we all know how I feel about desserts that don’t have chocolate in them (they’re not real desserts) so I decided to add chocolate mousse to the recipe. And true to form I spent waaaaaay to long looking up recipes for chocolate mousse. The only thing I can say in my defense of looking up recipes when I already have a handful of chocolate mousse recipes is that most of mine have some sort of espresso in them which my friend doesn’t like. When I had narrowed the options down to 4 I began trying to come up with ways to combine them all and wasting a bunch of time I should have been spending writing a paper, all the while knowing how ridiculous I was being.

And then I got annoyed at myself I did something I rarely did: I decided to go with the ONE simplest recipe I had found. It was a big (and challenging moment) for me. But I did it. And it turned out really delicious and probably as good as the 12-ingredient ones I had been considering. Yet……..it wasn’t very satisfying and maybe that’s the problem. I love making really complicated recipes (more often when it comes to baking than cooking) and I think it’s because the more work I put into it the more satisfaction I get out at the end. I’m trying to work on it, but in the mean time I’ll probably just continue making my life unnecessarily difficult.

I told you I had a problem.

Drunken Pasta

Ingredients

1 T extra virgin olive oil
5 slices pancetta, diced
2 cloves fresh garlic , minced
1 t red pepper flakes
2 c dry white wine
¼ t salt
1 lb spaghetti
1 c fresh baby arugula
⅓ c heavy whipping cream
½ c grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Heat oil and pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until crispy. Using slotted spoon transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.

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Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the grease. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for approximately 1 minute.

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Add wine, increase heat to medium-high. Cook until wine has reduced by half.

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WHILE sauce is reducing, place a large pot of generously salted water onto boil. Add pasta and cook until pasta is flexible (will be very al dente). Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining. Drain pasta.

Add pasta to wine mixture. Toss to combine. Add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water, arugula, cream and cheese. Toss to combine. Continue tossing and cooking until pasta has reached al dente.

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Garnish with additional arugula and cheese if desired. Serve immediately.

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Berry Shortcake with Chocolate Mousse and Whipped Cream

Adapted from Just a Taste

Ingredients

For the shortcakes:
4 cups berries
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups heavy cream, plus additional for brushing on shortcakes
2 teaspoons sugar (or sanding sugar if you’re fancy like that)

For the whipped cream:
1 cup chilled heavy cream
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the chocolate mousse:
1 oz dark chocolate, per person
1 T water, per person
1 t sugar, per person
1 egg, per person

Directions

Make the mousse:

Melt the chocolate in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a low flame with the water. Stir the chocolate until it is smooth. Let it cool slightly, perhaps 5 minutes or so.

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Separate the egg(s). Beat the yolk(s) in a bowl. Slowly stir the melted chocolate into the yolk(s).

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Whip the whites until very stiff and gently fold them over and over into the chocolate, so that they are perfectly blended, otherwise the chocolate may sink to the bottom.

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Refridgerate anywhere between 10 minutes and 3 hours.

Make the shortcakes:

Preheat the oven to 425ºF with a rack in the middle. Lightly butter a baking sheet.

In a small bowl, stir together the berries with the sugar. Set aside.

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In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the heavy cream just until a dough forms (**My dough was pretty crumbly so I added a few more tablespoons of cream until it came together). Gather the dough into a ball and knead it on a lightly floured surface one to two times. (Don’t over-knead the dough or your biscuits will be tough.)

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(And get flour all over yourself in the process.)

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Roll out the dough until it’s 1/2-inch thick. Using a knife (or a cookie cutter if you’re fancy like that too) cut out 8 shortcakes and transfer them to the baking sheet.

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(Pretty good circles for free-handing it dontcha )

Brush the tops of the shortcakes with additional heavy cream and then sprinkle them with the sugar (optional). Bake the shortcakes until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, and then transfer them to a rack to cool.

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Make the whipped cream:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract on high speed until soft peaks form.

Assemble the shortcakes:

Slice the shortcakes in half and then sandwich the berries, mousse and whipped cream inside them.

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