Chocolate-Peanut Butter Mousse Tart

Chocolate-peanut butter mousse tart

Last week I had a craving, and I couldn't shake it. I think Elizabeth is partially to blame. Elizabeth and her goober pie. The pie has a graham cracker crust and is filled with peanut butter mousse and topped with chocolate ganache.

Peanut butter mousse.

Chocolate-peanut butter mousse tart

I could not get peanut butter mousse out of my head. So I googled "peanut butter mousse" and scanned and clicked on recipes until my craving and my energy level agreed on a recipe. Rose Levy Beranbaum's chocolate-peanut butter mousse tart was the clear winner.

Chocolate-peanut butter mousse tart

It was after work, about 6 pm, and Jeff was just about to leave to take Gunner for a walk. We didn't have all the ingredients for the recipe, and usually when that happens, I'll accompany the boys on their walk and run into the Whole Foods on Prospect Street along the way. (This is the only Whole Foods I don't like, but I deal with it in emergency situations such as this one.) So I asked Jeff to wait a few minutes while I whipped up the dough for the peanut butter cookie crust. (Oh, and I don't care what the recipe says: Use Skippy!) It needed to refrigerate for 1 hour, and I couldn't waste any time.

I got the dough in the fridge, bundled up, and headed out with the boys. I grabbed the missing ingredients (heavy cream and cream cheese) as well as a few things to make pork fried rice for dinner at Whole Foods, and we headed back home.

The dough may not have been in the fridge for an entire hour at that point, but I decided I could still roll it out and followed the directions to roll it out between two sheets of plastic wrap and transfer it to the tart pan. It stuck a little to the plastic because it should have been chilled longer, but it still worked out. Back to the fridge it went for another hour, while I threw together the pork fried rice.

As we were finishing dinner, I preheated the oven and retrieved the tart from the fridge. I baked it off, let it start cooling, and made the chocolate ganache.

Here, I recommend not bothering with all the complications in the recipe. Measure out milk chocolate chips and bittersweet chocolate chips, and put them in a heatproof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil on the stove and pour it over the chocolate chips. Whisk until smooth, and whisk in the vanilla. (If the ganache sets up too much before you have a chance to pour it over the peanut butter mousse, just microwave it for 30 seconds.)

With the ganache ready to go and the tart nearly cool, I set to work on the much-anticipated peanut butter mousse. It's simply a mixture of peanut butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla, lightened with lightly whipped cream. So easy. So ridiculously good.

I heaped the peanut butter mousse into the cooled cookie crust and spread it evenly and smoothed the top.

Then I poured the rich chocolate ganache over the mousse and used a baby offset to spread it evenly. You have to work very fast here because the ganache starts setting up pretty quickly. And then it's back to the fridge for another hour!

Chocolate-peanut butter mousse tart

At about 10:30 pm, I served us some slices of the chocolate-peanut butter mousse tart. I know it was kind of crazy of me to make such a decadent dessert on a weeknight, but when I took that first bite, I knew exactly why I went through all that trouble: peanut butter mousse.

Chocolate-peanut butter mousse tart

The next night, when we had a little more time, we took out one of my new kitchen toys. Actually I've had it for many months now but just haven't had a chance to use it yet. Back when Snappy Tuna was still cool and sold stuff at discounted prices -- rather than the bidding wars it holds now -- I got an iSi Gourmet Whip for $40. (It retails for $140.)

I simply took 1 cup of heavy cream, whisked in about 2 teaspoons of confectioners' sugar and a splash of vanilla, and poured it into the canister. Jeff did the fun part and attached the cream charger and shook the canister after the gas released.

Within seconds we had fresh whipped cream to go along the chocolate-peanut butter mousse tart!

Chocolate-peanut butter mousse tart

Have you ever had such a strong craving that you had to stop whatever you were doing to satisfy it? What was it for?


Girls' Day Out And A Glimpse Of Boston Bridal Lounge

Yesterday morning I set out bright and early to meet two of my friends down on Newbury Street for facials and lunch. We had back-to-back appointments at G Spa and finally used our Buy With Me discounts that we bought months ago. We each did a 1-hour splurge facial, which was totally worthwhile (at $50 rather than the usual $100) and very relaxing.

With glowing skin, we headed next door to 29 Newbury for lunch. Both of my friends got the warm goat cheese salad while I opted for the grilled vegetable press -- a grilled wrap filled with caramelized onions, eggplant, spinach, mushrooms, and asiago cheese. It came with some incredible sweet potato fries. Besides that it's ridiculously overpriced at $16, the sandwich is very tasty. (I wish I had taken a picture.) We also split a bottle of prosecco because girls' day out requires a little bubbly!

At this point one of my friends had to head out, but my other friend and I decided to wander down Newbury Street. I had mentioned hearing about Boston Bridal Lounge, and since we are both engaged and have wedding stuff constantly on the brain, we set out to find it.

A small A-frame sign outside 125 Newbury Street is the only indication that Boston Bridal Lounge can be found inside. We spotted the sign, went in, and took the elevator to the second floor to find a gorgeous lounge and showroom.

Eleni and Kerri welcomed us, took our coats, and lead us to the comfortable white leather couches, where we sat and talked about our weddings. My friend is getting married in July and is much further along, focusing on the very last details at this point, while, as you know, I'm just getting into the swing of things. I have a ceremony and reception venue, caterers, and a photographer so far.

Inside Boston Bridal Lounge is a whole library of portfolios from different vendors, and as I talked about what I was looking for Kerri or Eleni would grab a binder as well as contact information for a vendor they thought would meet my budget and needs.

And as luck would have it, Jeanne from I Dream of Jeanne Cakes was there with two different wedding cakes that day, and we got to try a slice of each. The one on the left was a vanilla cake with mango and macadamia buttercream. The buttercream had just a hint of sweetness, which I really like. The cake on the right is the raspberry truffle cake -- dark chocolate cake with a thin layer of raspberry jam and rich chocolate raspberry truffle. Both cakes were moist and flavorful, and I'd be happy to have either at my wedding.

I actually still haven't decided if I'm going with one of the cake vendors included in our venue contract or getting a cake credit from the venue and getting the cake elsewhere. People have asked if I plan to make my own cake, but I just don't think I have the storage space for it, and my stress level would probably skyrocket. Plus, I've been told that as the bride, I'll have so many other things to be thinking about in those days leading up to the big day!

I got some great information from Kerri and Eleni about some local vendors they trust and definitely have some more research to do now.

Boston Bridal Lounge hosts events or meets with couples by appointment, and as my friend and I found out, Kerri and Eleni definitely seem happy to sit down and chat with curious brides-to-be who just happen to stop in on a Saturday afternoon.

If you're married or planning a wedding, did you or do you have a wedding planner? And more importantly, what kind of cake did you have, or what's your dream wedding cake?


Brunch At Towne

Jeff and I don't take advantage of living so close to Boston nearly as often as we should, so last Sunday we decided to head into Back Bay to grab some lunch and do a little wandering. Before we left the house, I quickly looked up a few menus (I like to be prepared), and then as we were heading out the door, it suddenly dawned on me that we hadn't checked out Towne Stove and Spirits yet, and this would be the perfect excuse to do that.

Towne was only serving brunch, but we figured that would be okay because typically brunch menus have breakfast and lunch options -- unfortunately Towne's brunch menu was a lot more breakfast focused (there are a few salads, pizzas, and pasta), but we changed gears pretty quickly.

When we walked into the dining room, we were asked if we had a reservation, and since we didn't, the host let us know that they only seat walk-ins at the high tops and asked if we were okay with that. We were totally fine with sitting at the high tops, but we both wished the host had been a little more friendly about it. We were made to feel as though we weren't good enough for Towne because we didn't have a reservation. The host simply could have said that they could seat us and taken us over to the high tops.

I thought serving water in beakers was a little odd.
Our waitress swooped in and made us feel right at home though, offering us beverages and answering my many questions about the menu. Jeff ordered the cinnamon French toast with whipped marmalade butter, and I narrowed my options down to the deep-fried poached egg on "minute" skirt steak with creamed spinach, the roast beef skillet hash crisped and served with organic eggs, and the "kitchen sink" bacon sandwich with xtreme fries. Ultimately, I went with the bacon sandwich because I wasn't sure if I really wanted eggs at noon, and the waitress described the bacon sandwich as being overflowing with bacon -- hence "kitchen sink."

The woman at the table to the right of me ordered the deep-fried poached egg on skirt steak, and as soon as I saw her cut into the steak, I wished I had ordered that instead -- and if I find myself at Towne for brunch again, I will definitely order it. (She and her dining companion also ordered the dish of raspberries with creme fraiche sorbet and a hot chocolate croissant -- it looked incredible!) The guy on the left of me ordered the roast beef skillet hash, and while it looked good, it didn't make me want to change my mind like the skirt steak did.

We nibbled on some fresh doughnut holes and grilled lemon poppyseed bread while we waited for our meals. The doughnut holes were hot and glazed and reminded me of Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Soon after ogling our neighbors' meals, snacking on doughnut holes, and sipping my mimosa, our meals came out. Jeff had a full plate of thick French toast. He enjoyed it but didn't taste the cinnamon in it. We both agreed that I make a better cinnamon French toast. I think that's part of why I don't tend to order French toast, pancakes, or waffles when we go out. I'll only do it if they sound really special. (Hello, malted waffle with salted caramel and rum-flamed bananas foster!)

My bacon sandwich was fabulous. It came on soft, fresh brioche bread with red, ripe tomatoes. It wasn't overflowing with bacon -- there were two or three pieces on each half -- but the bacon that was there was crisp and tasty. The dish was also supposed to come with a mixture of chips. I'm pretty sure I got one sweet potato chip and the rest were just potato chips. (If there were beet chips, I didn't notice.) And then there were some square, crispy hash browns too.

Overall, I was pleased with our breakfast, thought we had excellent service, and would definitely go back again -- but probably for lunch or dinner before hitting up brunch again.

Have you been to Towne?

Towne Stove & Spirits on Urbanspoon


Margaritas And Small Plates At Tico

This past Tuesday was somehow dubbed National Margarita Day, and coincidentally, Michelle, Justin, Meghan, Tania, Daisy, and I had reservations for dinner at Tico. We couldn't have planned it better if we tried.

Tico is Chef/Owner Michael Schlow's newest restaurant (joining Via Matta, Alta Strada, and Radius) and claims to be American at its core but influenced by Spanish, Mexican, and South American food. We were all pretty excited to check it out.

After work on Tuesday, Meghan and I met up at Park Street and strolled over to Tico to find Daisy waiting for us in the bar.

She had ordered a beer to start since Tico doesn't have a drink menu yet, but not much of a beer drinker and in the mood for a margarita, I asked the waiter what our margarita options were. There was everything from pomegranate to blood orange to original. I ordered a pomegranate margarita without salt and after a quizzical look from our waiter ended up deciding to get it with salt. The margarita was delicious though I couldn't distinctly pick up on a pomegranate flavor and I should have stuck with no salt.

Meghan got the blood orange margarita, and soon after Michelle and Justin arrived. We ran into Tania in the foyer and were led to a large table by the window.

We all scanned through the menu and decided to get a bunch of dishes to share. After I heard what everyone was most intrigued by, I took care of placing our order, which ended up including three different tacos and eight small plates.

Crispy Fried Manchego cheese with spicy pomegranate honey sauce 9
Crispy fried cheese is obviously delicious and the pomegranate honey sauce
 was thick, sweet, and the perfect accompaniment to the cheese.

Brussels sprouts with bacon, kumquats, mint and jalapenos 8
Though I feared this would be too spicy, it had just the perfect amount of heat,
and I've really never met a brussels sprout I haven't liked!

Crispy fried chicken with fennel slaw & spicy buttermilk dressing 10
While quite tasty, this is tied with the sweetbreads for my least favorite dish of the night.
It just didn't do much for me, and we had so many other more flavorful bites.

Shrimp toast with avocado, pickled jalapenos and lime 8
A little too greasy, these were an interesting (in a good way) take on shrimp toast.
(I'd only ever had shrimp toast at a Chinese restaurant before these.)

Creamy Gigante Beans with chorizo and green onion 10
I am not a lover of beans, and I honestly wasn't sure what to expect from these gigante beans,
but I was pleasantly surprised that they really were creamy rather than pasty like most beans.

Crispy Sweetbreads with masa harissa, endive, blood orange and hazelnuts 8
I'd never had sweetbreads before, was rightfully nervous about trying them
(please don't make me explain what they are), and really wasn't impressed.
Both Justin and Michelle who have had sweetbreads before mentioned that these were
underseasoned, so maybe I would have enjoyed them more if they had more flavor.

Crispy Fish, pickled onions & red jalapeno 9
Just your average fish taco

Octopus with yellow peppers, citrus, and Aleppo pepper 11
This dish was just awesome -- flavorful, light, and full of texture. 

Snap Peas with orange zest, Tabasco butter and “crunchies” 8
The snap peas still had their snap and a little kick, and I loved the hint of citrus.

Spicy Shrimp, bacon and avocado 12
The shrimp taco was my favorite of all the tacos we tried.
I mean does fennel slaw really stand a chance against avocado and bacon?

“Creamed” Corn with Bacon, Chiles and Thai Basil 8
The "creamed" corn had nothing creamy about it, but I am not complaining.
This was the perfect dish to end the night with. I might need to make
some version of this at home this summer.

I've got to go back and try the other half of the menu at some point -- the tuna tartare tostadas, fried calamari, and roasted cauliflower, especially.

After all that, you wouldn't think we'd have room for dessert, but once we saw the choices, we made room. We ordered and shared three desserts, and we all liked all of them -- though we each have our favorites that we absolutely loved. My favorite was the chocolate tart.

Doesn't that sound good?!

Super Delicious Chocolate Tart with Tres Leches Ice Cream 10
Definite favorite -- not only was the cake rich and fudgy,
but all that stuff on the plate (ice cream, caramel) complemented it so well!

The Chocolate Gelato Peanut Butter Mousse-Over The Top-Caramelized Banana Split 10
Don't get me wrong, this was absolutely fabulous too, especially that peanut butter mousse.

Lemon Sabayon Tart with Whipped Cream and Fresh Strawberries 10
What can I say? I'm a chocolate-lovin' girl! But this was still a tasty treat
and good for palate cleansing in between bites of the richer chocolate desserts.

The most shocking thing about this whole dinner is with all the food we had, plus drinks, tax, and tip, we only spent $40 each. Tico is definitely an affordable option for a big group. And cost-cutting aside, it's a great idea to go with a big group (as long as everyone will share) because you'll get a chance to try so many more small plates.

Did you celebrate National Margarita Day? Have you been to Tico yet?

Tico on Urbanspoon


A Chicken Stew Of Sorts

Food & Wine has always been one of my favorite food magazines, but the March issue completely wowed me. I immediately dog-eared 12 recipes just on my first flip-through. The theme of this issue is healthy eating without sacrificing flavor. I'm always more concerned with flavor and satisfying my cravings than with how healthy something is (I know... I need to work on this). I figured I'd see all sorts of dishes that wouldn't call out to me based on their "healthy factor," but I was wrong. From the Dijon-roasted cauliflower to the Za'atar-rubbed pork tenderloin, I could tell these were definitely flavor-packed recipes that could tempt even me into eating more healthfully.

The first flavor-filled, healthy recipe I attempted was a spin on Jamie Oliver's Simplest Chicken-and-Leek Stew. I scanned the ingredient list. I had chicken, chicken stock, mustard, and thyme. And while I didn't have leeks, mushrooms, and sour cream, I had some red onion, carrots, and creme fraiche. I knew I could make the stew work with the ingredients I had on hand.

While Jamie suggests serving the stew over white rice, I had just bought the most adorable Wee Bee Pee Wee potatoes (yes, that's seriously what they're called) at Whole Foods and wanted to have those with the stew instead. I wasn't sure if the potatoes would have enough time to boil and cook through in the chicken stock, so I roasted them while I prepared the stew and then put them in the bottom of my bowl and poured the stew over them. As I cut into the potatoes, they would soak up some of the broth and take on a tangy flavor from the mustard. I'm pretty sure potatoes were the better way to go.

Chicken Stew With Roasted Potatoes (adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe in Food & Wine, March 2011)

Roasted Potatoes


1 lb bag Wee Bee Pee Wee (or other small) potatoes, washed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread potatoes on a sheet pan lined with foil, and drizzle them with olive oil. Roll the potatoes around in the oil so they all get coated. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast the potatoes for 25 minutes, or until they can easily be pierced all the way through with a fork. Turn off the oven, and leave them in there until the stew is ready.

Chicken Stew


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Half of a red onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast filets, cut in 2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
Flour, for dusting
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or use low-sodium broth if you prefer)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard


Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion and carrots until softened, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Scrape them into a medium bowl.

Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper, and coat it lightly with flour. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet, and saute the chicken over medium heat until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Add the chicken stock and thyme, and simmer for 1 minute.

Transfer the chicken to the bowl with the onion and carrots.

Simmer the stock for another 2 minutes, or until reduced by half, and then return the chicken and vegetables to the skillet and cook for 1 minute.

Mix the creme fraiche and mustard together in a small bowl, and stir the mixture into the stew. Remove the skillet from the heat, and season the stew with salt and pepper.

Place some roasted potatoes in the bottom of a soup bowl.

Ladle some of the chicken stew over the potatoes, and serve.

You could also eat this like Jeff did, on a plate, with mostly chicken, vegetables, and potatoes, and using the broth more like a sauce.

The stew was both light and filling, and it was definitely full of flavor from the onions, thyme, and Dijon mustard.

What's the most interesting thing you've made with random ingredients that you had on hand?