Monday, January 17, 2011

A Dinner Party

This past Saturday we had three of my best girl friends over, along with the men in their lives. I cooked a four course meal for eight! {with the much needed help of my wonderful boyfriend, Cara and Nate}

On the Menu:

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Gruyere, Parmesan and Rosemary Bread Sticks
Spring Green with Roasted Beets and a Balsamic Lemon Dressing
Ina's Shrimp Scampi
Chocolate Mousse with Orange Zest and Homemade Whipped Cream

The table:

Simple white tablecloth
Gray Linen Napkins (West Elm)
White Square Dishes (Crate and Barrel)
White and Hydrangeas
Silver Mercury Votives

The Mousse was AH-MAZING. Courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa herself. It was definitely a labor of love, but SO worth it.

What you'll need...
  • 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 ounces good bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 extra-large eggs at room temperature, separated
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup cold heavy cream
  • Whipped Cream, recipe follows, for decoration
  • Mandarin oranges, drained, for decoration

Combine the 2 chocolates, 1/4 cup water, and the vanilla in a glass bowl. Set it over a pan of simmering water just until the chocolate melts. Cool completely to room temperature. Whisk in the orange zest and butter until combined.

Place the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick and pale yellow. With the mixer on low speed, add the chocolate mixture. Transfer to a large bowl.

Place 1 cup of egg whites (save or discard the rest), the salt, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until firm but not dry. Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture; then fold the rest in carefully with a rubber spatula.

Without cleaning the bowl or whisk, whip the heavy cream and the remaining tablespoon of sugar until firm. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mousse into individual dishes or an 8-cup serving bowl. Chill and decorate with whipped cream and oranges. Serve with extra whipped cream on the side.

Whipped Cream: 2 cups cold heavy cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, dash pure vanilla. Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until the cream forms stiff peaks. Don't overbeat, or you'll end up with butter!


  1. Hi Ashley! I've been reading your blog for a while now and think it's great. This dinner party looks absolutely BEAUTIFUL.

    Just a heads up, I'm passing on a Stylish Blogger award to you. Keep on posting!

  2. I'm so honored, Victoria! Thanks for the shout out!

  3. LOVE the invite and menu card. Looks like it was a beautiful time.