Cookies and Chocolate Mousse

Correction, make that vanilla bean sugar cookies and dark chocolate mousse. Don't you just love how good those sound together? Well, they were good together, and I have Thomas Keller (of Bouchon and The French Laundry fame) and his recipes to thank for it. Actually, I have my friends, Shelley and Brett, to thank because they suggested we focus solely on the recipes of Thomas Keller for dinner club this month.

Great idea! Except if you know anything about the venerable Mr. Keller, you know that his recipes can veer toward the detailed, and sometimes, complicated end of the cooking spectrum. But, I had neither the time nor inclination for detailed or complicated as I set about deciding on the dessert I would bring. I wanted simple and easy. I mean, really, isn't that what we all want from life? It's already busy and involved. I don't see any reason to make it more so. Not to mention, I have yet to find that there is an undisputable correlation between complication and time consumption and a superior result. The greatest joys in life are often the ones that come about in the most carefree and unexpected ways.

I don't own any of Mr. Keller's esteemed cookbooks, so I harnessed the power of the internet to find some of his dessert recipes that wouldn't require a lot of time, far in advance or last minute preparation, or a laundry list of ingredients. Enter dark chocolate mousse and vanilla bean sugar cookies from his book, Bouchon. If my dinner club friends read the recipes, I think I'm going to lose a lot of street cred when they realize just how easy it was to make these sweets. The beauty of both recipes is they can be made the night before. (No one has to know this, though.) In fact, the mousse needs to refrigerate for at least eight hours and the sugar cookie dough needs to be refrigerated for a few hours until it is firm enough to slice. So, since you really do need to make them somewhat in advance, why not make them the night before and spend the day of the party focusing instead on your outfit?

If you're worried that people will think you just threw something together last minute or didn't try too hard, do what I did and up the presentation factor. Remember, packaging sells the product. I bought cute little four ounce Bell glass jars and put the mousse in the jars for individual servings. I then plated the jars on antique plates from my grandmother and placed a couple of the sugar cookies alongside. It brought out the rustic, yet sophisticated, theme that is present in much of Keller's cooking and at his restaurants and bakeries.

All in all, the two together made for the perfect dessert for the perfect ending to a fabulous meal with great friends. Because life shouldn't be complicated.

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