Eggnog Mousse Bars
I wrote this post as part of the Plugrá Butter Brigade. Thanks, Plugrá, for sponsoring this post and for making my favorite butter!
I’m good at making mental lists of all the things I’m not doing well. I’m behind on responding to so many emails. I never feel like I’m doing enough for social justice. I don’t remember the last time I got my oil changed (sorry, Dad). These things are important and I need to work on them. But the other day I was stopped at a stoplight and for some reason, I started thinking about how many ways I’ve grown as a person. The list is longer and more encouraging than I thought.
During the holidays, every Instagram snap can inspire self-doubt. Everyone else’s tree is perfectly tinsel-tinged. Everyone else is having a spontaneous, rosy-cheeked snowball fight with their kids. Everyone else is baking, eating, laughing, dancing. Everyone else’s perfect pictures become your self-flagellation: why can’t you get it together? Why can’t you get in the spirit? Why can’t you just be happy? Instead of giving into that, though, let’s focus on how much better/stronger/healthier we are than we used to be. Here’s my list, but (and here’s the hard part) don’t use my list to JUDGE YOURSELF! Instead, make your own list, and add it in the comments.
- I have had regular doctor and dentist appointments this year. This may be normal for you, but I haven’t had regular dental care or medical care . . . ever. I was sure I was going to have a million cavities, but I only had one and I got it taken care of. Nothing makes me feel like I have my life together like being caught up on my dental care.
- My car and apartment are relatively clean. This one is huge. For my entire adult (and some of my kid) life, I’ve had trouble with STUFF. If I have STUFF I don’t know what to do with, I get overwhelmed and stick it in a pile. As the pile grows, it becomes a bigger obstacle in my psyche, meaning I ignore it even more vehemently. I’ve always had piles of STUFF tucked away under my bed, in my car, in my closet, on various surfaces around my house. Periodically I’d clean things out (alone or with help) only to find the STUFF slowly creeping in again around the margins of my living space. Finally, though, I’ve developed some strategies to keep the STUFF away: I throw or give away nonessential STUFF immediately, I minimize available surfaces for accumulating STUFF, and I make sure the STUFF I do have all has a dedicated space. There’s still room for improvement, but I feel so much freer.
- I exercise regularly now. Until about 3 years ago, I didn’t exercise at all. I started exercising after some hard circumstances and overdid it, to be honest. But once things settled down I found that a healthy amount of exercise lifted my mood and gave me a sense of mastery. When I moved to Raleigh, my job change made it hard to keep up my exercise routine, but I still stuck to working out at least once a week. This year I’m back up to 3-4 times per week. I still beat myself up about not working out every day (geez, brain, gimme a break!) but when I think of the fact that I’ve exercised regularly for 3 years now, I’m proud of myself.
Our family photo: PJs, puppy kisses, and one out-of-sorts turtle.
- Mike and I put up our first Christmas tree last night. Special occasions are hard for me. There’s so much pressure for things to go well that I get stressed and anxious and things fall apart. For a period of time, I just stopped doing “special occasions” entirely, which sounds sad but was actually an effective act of self-preservation for me. Last night, though, Mike and I turned on my holiday playlist and decorated our Christmas tree. We even took family photos with the dog AND THE TURTLE and kept things casual and fun — no stressing about how to get good photos, where the ornaments should go, or whether we were having Enough Holiday Fun. It was just easy. That’s a big deal for me.
Another thing I’m proud of is letting go of my kitchen perfectionism. I like cooking hard stuff when I’m excited about a recipe, but I used to feel pressured to create elaborate desserts all the time. Now I’m more focused on desserts that are quick, easy, and inspire kitchen confidence. These Eggnog Mousse Bars are delicious and perfect for your Christmas dessert table, but are almost no-bake and will take just 30 minutes to whip up! Enjoy, and don’t forget: tell me how you’re a better version of yourself now than you used to be.
One year ago: Super Fancy Chocolate Cheesecake Cake
Two years ago: Magic Bars
Three years ago: Oreo Truffle Snowmen
Four years ago: Raspberry Lemonade Champagne Smash
Five years ago: Brown Butter Gooey Butter Spice Cake with Sparkling Cranberries and Cream
Six years ago: Gingersnap Cheesecake Stuffed Snickerdoodles
- 1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies
- 5 tablespoons Plugrá butter, melted
- 1 3/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup spiced rum or Southern Comfort (or a mixture)
- 3 cups well-chilled heavy cream, divided
- 5 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Make the crust: Prepare an 8-inch square baking pan with a parchment paper sling and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium bowl, stir together the gingersnap crumbs and melted butter with a fork until the crumbs are moistened. Press (using a flat-bottomed glass or dish) the crumbs evenly and flat into the prepared pan. Bake for 8 minutes and set it aside to cool completely (I stick mine in the fridge).
- Make the eggnog mousse: Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside as an ice bath (I just stopped up my sink and used it). Place 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the top. Let it soften for 2 minutes. Add in the nutmeg, cinnamon, and sweetened condensed milk. Heat the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the gelatin is dissolved and the mixture is smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, whisk in the vanilla extract and rum (and/or Southern Comfort), and then transfer the saucepan to the ice bath. Cool, whisking frequently, until the mixture is cold and thick.
- In the meantime, whip 2 cups of the chilled heavy cream to stiff peaks. Stir about 1/3 of the whipped cream into the cold condensed milk mixture to lighten it up, and then pour this mixture into your remaining whipped cream, folding it in gently until there are no streaks. Pour this mixture over your shortbread crust. Chill the entire dessert until it's set up nicely (a few hours). Whip the remaining cup of cream with the powdered sugar to stiff peaks for topping. Lift the bars out of the pan, slice into bars, and top each bar with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of nutmeg.