Café Mac as we once knew it no longer exists. With changes to on-campus dining during the current coronavirus pandemic, Macalester’s dining hall looks very different. New students are experiencing a radically altered Café Mac, if they are going there at all. Meanwhile, many other students, like myself, have foregone dining plans in this abnormal semester. We are left with only our memories of Café Mac as it once was, a bustling environment with many unique attractions we once took for granted. Although Macalester’s dining hall continues to operate, we must recognize that it has fundamentally changed. It falls on us to keep the memory alive.
In this series of articles, I aim to provide tutorials on recreating key aspects of the ecosystem that was pre-pandemic Café Mac. Whether you are missing old favorites or never experienced them in the first place, these articles will help to bring facets of the old Café Mac home to you.
Recipe: Chocolate Mousse
This is an absolute staple of the Café Mac dessert case. I call it chocolate mousse here, but it goes by many names. Pudding. Custard. If placed in a foil-wrapped pastry crust, it is also a pie or a tart. No matter what name it goes by, this dessert always elicits the same unparalleled feeling. In the before times, one could read this name in the online menu (yes, you can do that) or atop the dessert case and feel hope before being ultimately struck with reality. If you want this recipe to be authentic, you must also have that brief moment of hope and fleetingly wonder if the dessert will match its description. Close your eyes. Visualize it. Ruminate on it. And then see it for what it truly is.
1 tub chocolate frosting
1-3 raspberries OR orange sprinkles (optional)
Scoop the chocolate frosting into a bowl.
Gently, tenderly, place the raspberries or sprinkles on top (if using.)
When I set out to recreate Café Mac’s chocolate mousse, I bought a tub of Betty Crocker chocolate frosting. It was definitely not the most accurate frosting choice, but it was certainly the most available for purchase at the Walgreens four blocks from my apartment. Café Mac’s frosting is lighter in both color and texture, with a fluffy consistency and a more subtle chocolate flavor. I elected to go with the raspberry-topped variety of mousse. Luckily, this garnish was extremely faithful to that of Café Mac.
I don’t think it will be much of a surprise for me to say that I did not eat this entire bowl. As unlikely as I ever was to eat Macalester’s chocolate mousse, this was both a bigger bowl and a richer, denser frosting. I ate two spoonfuls, each with a raspberry on top. I then scooped the rest of the frosting back into the tub.
This tasted like chocolate frosting and raspberries, which is to say delicious. The Betty Crocker frosting was far better in flavor than the Café Mac frosting, but much more difficult to consume in large quantities. Eating the Café Mac frosting never felt good, but it was possible to eat an entire bowl and still have all of your organs intact by the end of it.
Other than the fact that I now have most of a tub of chocolate frosting in my fridge that I have to figure out what to do with, I would say this was a fairly enjoyable experience. I would give this at-home recreation a 6/10 for accuracy and an 8/10 for flavor. Would I recommend this recipe to anyone? Of course not. If you, like me, are the kind of person who enjoys eating frosting with a spoon, you did not need this article to tell you how, and you certainly do not need a bowl acting as a middleman. Perhaps with a lighter frosting and that essential element of surprise, this dessert could be more accurately recreated.