WHO: Caroline Swenson of St. Petersburg, 18, a recently graduated homeschooler with a passion for health food and a love for chocolate
WHAT: Mocha Mousse
ABOUT THE COOK: Swenson works at Rollin' Oats natural foods store in St. Petersburg, grinds her own grain for brown bread and dreams of writing a cookbook filled with accessible, healthy recipes. But sometimes, she says, she likes "to splurge" with mocha mousse.
Two years ago, she modified a Martha Stewart chocolate mousse recipe, adding coffee and eliminating the egg yolk. Her version soon became a family favorite.
"I always called it my 'bribery tool,' " Swenson says. "If I wanted (my mom) to let me stay up to watch a movie, I'd be like, 'Oh well, Mom, I'll make you chocolate mousse if you let me watch the movie tonight.' "
Her mom always said yes.
TIPS FOR OTHERS: To make the mousse smooth, "make sure you don't whip the cream too much before you add the chocolate, because the chocolate really, really thickens the cream quickly. So, just make the cream slightly thicker than it already is."
CAN'T COOK WITHOUT: Sea salt. She even likes adding it to baked goods.
DARK OR MILK CHOCOLATE? "The darker the chocolate, the better," Swenson says, adding that she likes to snack on chocolate that's 80 percent cocoa. "You can't beat chocolate, especially if it's good for you."
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE: In August, Swenson will attend King's College in New York, majoring in media, culture and arts and minoring in business. After she graduates, she hopes to attend a culinary school and perhaps start her own catering company.
Emily Young, Special to the Times
Signature Dish is published periodically in Taste. If you have a recipe that you would like featured or would like to nominate other home cooks and their dishes, please e-mail the information to firstname.lastname@example.org and include a name and daytime phone number. Include SIGNATURE DISH in the subject line. Nominations can be mailed to Taste, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.