Mothering Sunday Treats

Mom and her three girls

It’s Mothering Sunday here in the UK this weekend….Mother’s Day to the rest of us.  Like anywhere else in the world, commercialism has consumed this sweet holiday with shops prominently displaying their  “mother, I love you” themed cards  and pastel signs and many adverts on TV for flower bouquets and countless other mother-approved gifts, just in case you could forget.

Sadly, I’m not with my dear mother for this holiday very often (besides, she just cracks up every time I say “Mothering Sunday” saying it sounds like “smothering”), but my favorite way to show her just how special she is to me is to cook….of course.  She is the one, after all, who sparked my love of food and cooking as I used to sit and watch her cook when I was a little girl and then gradually edged my way toward the counter to stir and chop myself.

So, in honor of my Mother who has the sweetest sweet tooth I know, and to give you all a little project that you might want to take on for Easter or Mother’s Day later this spring, I give you my Chocolate Mousse filled Egg Cups with Lemon Lavender Shortbread.

The inspiration for the egg cups comes from another trip to Seattle to see Jill. Her neighbor had chickens that laid blue eggs!  They were the most gorgeous color of pale, pale blue and being the crazy person that I am, I immediately thought to myself how gorgeous brown would look along side it. Somehow my imagination brought me to chocolate mousse piped into the blue egg cups and so here we are.  Yes, it is a problem.

You do need to get an egg topper to cut the eggshell off neatly, but once you get the hang of that it’s easy. After you’ve emptied your eggs do boil them in a pan of water for just a few minutes to make sure they are clean and sanitised.   And, why not use this same technique for other dishes?? You could fill the egg cups with scrambled eggs and a dollop of black caviar for a really elegant meal or fill with a  savory custard of your invention (I made a smoked salmon custard that was delicious, but why not try a sea urchin custard, lobster custard, chestnut custard, mushroom custard?).

Shortbread is one of those national pride-filled dishes here in England.  I made these cookies often when up at the shooting lodge and served them alongside some summer strawberries and whipped cream.  I love how they are sort of just barely sweet so you get a satisfying crunch that plays off any desert you might have made.  They’re terrific with ice creams or just lovely to have in the cookie jar for a late night munch.  My mother loves  my honey lavender ice cream and so I thought why not try to put lavender into the shortbread mixture?  A little lemon zest to brighten up the mixture and there you have it.  My only note would be to not handle the mixture too much as you crumble together the butter and flour – also try to keep you hands cool.  The more you play with this dough the tougher it becomes, so handle with care!

Chocolate Mousse in Blue Egg Cups
makes enough for 12 eggs

3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into pieces
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped into pieces
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cups whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks
12 egg cups – topped and sanitised

Combine the first three ingredients and either melt in a saucepan or throw in the microwave until melted. Make sure to whisk together – it can look like it’s broken but just use some elbow grease.  Set this aside to cool a little bit.

In a saucepan combine the next three ingredients and cook until you see steam coming off the mixture and it’s a little foamy (when you see steam it means the eggs are cooked enough to be safe to eat).  Now add the chocolate to this and whisk until it’s completely incorporated.

Carefully fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream until completely combined.  Place the mix in plastic freezer bag, cut off a small corner of the bag and pipe into your prepared egg shells.  Chill.

Lemon Lavender Shortbread
makes two dozen

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 pound unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
1 large egg yolk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and add butter.  Work the mix together with your fingertips until it is all incorporated.  Add the lemon zest and lavender and mix through.  Now add your egg yolk and work it into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 2 hours.

Flour your counter and roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Use whatever cutter you’d like to shape your cookies and place them on your prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle a little more sugar over the top and bake for 15-18 minutes (it will depend on the shape and size you end up with) until golden brown. Allow them to set on the baking sheet for a few minutes before moving.

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