Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dearest Jean,

Having started out on that original ‘Articles’ list, lo these many years ago, it was such a delight when you and Aleta took over from Bill. It was even a bigger delight when you took time from your visit in San Francisco to see Victor and me in San Leandro.

I so fondly remember the two of you sitting around and talking the afternoon away. It was way too short of a visit, but oh, so fun.

I also remember trying to figure out what to serve you when you came over. The Gay Man’s Dilemma! I settled on ‘dessert’ – a Frozen Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pound Cake from an old issue of Bon Appetit. Just slightly decadent… Aleta asked for the recipe, and it only took me weeks to finally get it sent off.

I am heavily involved these days with Relay For Life, and I was in Washington, DC on Wednesday for the Celebration on the Hill sponsored by the Cancer Action Network arm of the ACS. During the Luminaria Ceremony I started listing in my mind, all of the people I could remember who had been touched by cancer. Of the score of people I could remember, Aleta was there with me, and she brought a smile to my face as I remembered those wonderful ‘Articles’ days.

So tonight I sit here thinking about how much the two of you did to enrich the lives of so many, and as I look out my window right now, in the clear and crisp Pennsylvania sky, there is a new star shining down upon us all. There is a smile on my face right now as I remember that day many years ago, and I’m heading to my kitchen to make that dessert right now.

And just for the hell of it, here’s the recipe for all of you.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pound Cake

This is by far, one of our most favorite desserts. It's sinfully rich, and best made the day before you wish to serve it, because of freezing time.

Peanut Butter Mousse

2 cups sifted powdered sugar

1 cup peanut butter (I like to use chunk-style.)

8 oz cream cheese - room temperature

2 large egg whites

Chocolate Mousse

1 cup whipping cream

1/3 cup sugar

8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder (I usually omit - Victor's not fond of coffee flavors in desserts...)

2 1/2 tbsp hot water (if using the espresso powder)

3 egg yolks

Chocolate Ganache

2/3 cup whipping cream

5 tbsp butter

5 oz semi sweet chocolate

Peanut butter mousse: Line 6 cup loaf pan with plastic wrap. Mix together 1 1/2 cups sugar with peanut butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then add remaining powdered sugar and beat till stiff and shiny. Fold whites into peanut butter mixture.

Tilt loaf pan sideways (45º angle) and spoon mousse down pan. Smooth top and place in freezer about an hour to firm. (Prop pan to hold 45º angle.)

Chocolate mousse: Slowly melt chocolate, stirring until smooth. Dissolve espresso powder in hot water. add egg yolks. Add to chocolate and stir until slightly thickened. Cool to room temperature.

Beat whipped cream and sugar to soft peaks. Fold cream into cooled chocolate mixture. Set pan with frozen peanut butter mousse flat on counter and fill with chocolate mousse. Smooth top and return to freezer about 6 hours or overnight.

Ganache: Heat cream and butter just until cream simmers and butter is melted. Remove from heat and add chocolate, stirring until smooth. Let cool until thickened, but still pourable.

Invert loaf onto rack, removing pan and plastic. Pour ganache over loaf and smooth all sides. Transfer to serving platter and decorate or not, as you see fit.

Enjoy! And thank you, Aleta. For everything.

Tim Dineen

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