Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse
with Salted Peanut Brittle
New years never align with the calendar’s official start date. My mind always defaults to my birthday since for me that’s the real start of my next trip around the sun. A few days ago I realized I have two new year days, of sorts.
Loss is a marathon. Some days you sprint to get to the finish line, and other days (many of them) you slog along, just trying to get from sunrise to sunset with some semblance of sanity, realizing there is no end. Grief is actually a long series of firsts, and every 365 day cycle brings a new year you must live without the person you’re missing.
It’s not the kind of new year to make resolutions or set goals. I find that’s the worst thing you can do with grief—it’s a doorframe to your soul and needs the space to shrink and expand, depending on what’s happening at any given moment. Each new year of grief, though, brings insight and experience.
I find myself more comfortable with people who knew Michael or at least knew me before Michael died. They understand my loss because they know both versions of me, but also because my loss makes sense to them. That can be infuriating when I develop, or I should say, try to develop new friendships. Why should I have to justify my loss?
A few months ago, grief was a heavy shroud on my every day. I was keenly aware of the “why”. The 10th anniversary of Michael’s death was coming up. I was newly remarried, and with the joy of such an amazing moment came a lot of emotional and mental sorting and reorganizing to do.
What if our forever is also too short? Can I go through that again twice in one lifetime? What will it be like one day living with someone again? Will I feel suffocated or will Matthew give me the space I need? I’m a human cactus. I don’t require too much attention of fuss, and proceed with caution because of my prickly, introverted personality.
During this time when my heart and mind were feeling very out of sorts, I wrote a post on Instagram about missing Michael. One person who follows me there said she felt sorry for Matthew and how I couldn’t find joy in my new life. Yeah, you can bet I blocked and deleted her comment faster than the speed of light. Who feels so entitled to write that to another human of whom they only know snippets of virtually?
But it’s still bothered me because I’ve encountered so much of this during my grief journey the last 10 years. People expect there to be an expiration date. Almost worse, they assume you can’t hold space for both happiness and sadness at the same, as if one cancels the other rather. A multitude of feeling occupy parallel spaces but we live in a society that expects you to pick yourself up, brush yourself off and get on with it.
I’m incredibly thankful, and often amazed, that Matthew understands all of this, and respects all the feelings and emotions that exist within me. And so, it was with him in mind that I decided to make this chocolate peanut butter mousse. It just so happens this was also Michael’s dream dessert flavor pairing, not an unlikely duo in the scheme of things but a lovely thread that connects my past, present and future.
We’d gone out for dinner a few nights before to a restaurant in Kingston. The meal had some hiccups, like waiting 45 minutes before our appetizers arrived at the table. That wasn’t too big a deal since each other’s company was what we really craved, and the meal was mostly delicious.
The dessert, though, was a sad imposter of a chocolate mousse that texturally was more like pudding, and a very bad one at that. I’m positive he shrank in his seat when I gave my honest assessment of it, very politely, when the server asked how we enjoyed it.
I’d gone to bed that Friday night with the damn chocolate mousse still on my mind. I woke the next morning and decided I would make Matthew a dreamy chocolate peanut butter mousse. The mousse on its own would be delicious but channeling my fine dining days and thinking of Claudia Fleming’s desserts from Gramercy Tavern, I felt it needed some flair. Some cracked shards of salted peanut brittle joined the mix.
I mention the fresh whipped cream is optional but really that’s only the case if you should find yourself with out a drop of cream in the fridge—such was my case when I snapped the photo above. Rest assured when I went for a second helping the next day, I made sure to buy some heavy cream beforehand.