I bought a new cookbook. It was full of luscious photos and simple recipes, which were hard to follow. French I could manage. Metric, I couldn't.
Just how heavy is a gram? Does a liter really equal a quart or does it just wish it did? And what's with centiliters? Are they round millimeters?
Fortunately, I had just finished reading a scholarly cooking text, and it offered sound advice about switching systems: take it easy.
Just as there's no point in literal word-for-word translation, there's no point in picky gram-for-ounce conversion. How helpful is: ".033 ounces of sugar in powder"?
A little poetic license, and rounding, are in order. I was happy to comply. And happy with my poetic and round Foam of Chocolate.
Prep: 20 minutes
Wait: 4 hours
6 ounces dark (70 percent) chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup whipping cream (plus 1 cup for serving, optional)
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 eggs*, separated
2 tablespoons sugar (plus 2 tablespoons, optional)
Tumble chocolate into a bowl. Heat 1/2 cup cream just to a boil (watch closely). Pour hot cream over chocolate. Whisk smooth. Whisk in butter, bit by bit.
Slide egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on high speed as they turn from clear to frothy. Pour in 2 tablespoons sugar, continue to whip to sturdy peaks. Slide in yolks; whip a few seconds, just to combine.
Drop a big spoonful of eggs into the chocolate, whisk smooth. Pour chocolate into the remaining eggs. Fold together gently and thoroughly, using a soft spatula.
Scrape mousse into a serving bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the mousse and chill at least 4 hours.
Scoop into serving bowls. If you like, whip 1 cup cream and 2 tablespoons sugar to soft peaks. Top each serving with a dollop.
Provenance: Adapted from Petit Larousse Patissier.
* Use pasteurized eggs if you are concerned about salmonella in the raw eggs.
Leah Eskin is a Tribune Newspapers special contributor. Email her at email@example.com.