I always associate brandy with Christmas and cold. Obviously brandy is drunk all year round and, of course, used in crepe suzette all the time. It's just one of those drinks that isn't often chosen by my friends and family and it always comes up around Christmas-time.
The most popular accompaniments to mince pies have brandy in them. Brandy cream, brandy butter, it's all brandy. I have to say, my mince pie mix is made with rum so maybe I should make rum cream. Mmmmm nah. But say you do decide to make brandy cream/butter. What do you do with the bottle of brandy afterwards? Yes you can drink it but what if drinking it straight isn't your kind of thing?
Brandy can be used for loads of things. My favourite thing to put it in is dessert. You can use it in soups and sauces too but it gives a really warming hint to dessert, especially after a heavy meal. It can basically make anything that's child friendly alcoholic. A nice, grown up addition. A few weeks ago we had some guests for dinner and because it was our first dinner party in York, I made three courses. I have to say, not only did I enjoy myself but the food was really good (don't judge my self praise).
For dessert I served up some brandy chocolate mousse. And I'm not even joking, not only was it the best mousse I'd ever had, it was the only time I'd made mousse and it set properly in the time I had. I was very, VERY pleased. This recipe is incredibly easy so don't baulk at it. It will serve 6-8 small portions (espresso cups) or 4-6 larger portions (martini glasses) depending on how much you give per portion.
Brandy Chocolate Mousse
300ml double cream
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 eggs, separated
200g dark chocolate
2 tbsp brandy
Pour 100ml of the double cream into a bowl with the caster sugar. Whisk them together until the cream is thick but not hard (not like butter as the Mr.'s mother says). Cover it with cling film and put in the fridge until you're ready to serve.
Pour the rest of the cream into a saucepan and heat it just before it's ready to boil. Don't let it boil! Add all the chocolate, except a small square, and the brandy and mix it all together until the chocolate melts and is well combined. Set aside to cool for a bit.
Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. I would use a hand mixer because a hand whisk will take a loooooong time and it will be sore on the arm. But, some people have a knack and if you have the knack then go for it. When the egg whites are stiff, wash the whisk and beat the egg yolks into the cooled chocolate mixture.
Fold the egg whites carefully into the chocolate mixture until all combined. Pour the mixture into your serving receptacles and leave in the fridge for at least two hours until set.
To serve, dollop a spoonful of the cream on top and grate the remaining chocolate over to decorate.