The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne
of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz
. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at The Daring Kitchen
One of the things that I was most excited about when I first started my blog was joining the Daring Kitchen. The idea of a challenge to make sweets that I'd normally never attempt was alluring, and so was the feeling that I would be "educated" a little each month by a technique or by stretching my palate to come up with unique flavor combinations. Of course, the expectation that I needed to make and eat a decadent dessert once a month was a good excuse to participate as well.
Our challenge this month is probably one of my favorites so far, and this is my 20th challenge (I believe I only missed one since I joined up). We had to make a maple mousse and serve it in some sort of edible container. For some reason I had baklava on the brain, and thought I could kind of work in a personal challenge to myself to make phyllo dough to turn into phyllo cups. Yeah. Who makes phyllo dough?
I tried. I failed. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, I recalled seeing a clip on Martha Stewart like 10 years ago in which an old Greek man and wife team stretched the paper thin dough over a room sized table, flapping it in tandem like a huge king-sized bed sheet. I should have known straight off that I'd need a partner, but figured that maybe I could use my pasta roller and roll small, long, thin sheets.
The dough was awesome (and easy). I never made anything like it. It was as pliable and soft as an earlobe. But, what I didn't know beforehand was that I should have used a higher protein flour. Still, for using AP flour, I was able to coax it into thin panes, I just wasn't able to keep it from snapping back to it's starting position. I've since looked at a lot of YouTube videos and examined other recipes and I've decided I will recruit a partner before trying this again. I may not attempt it again soon, but someday I will...
For about 2 1/2 hours, I tried all kinds of ways to get the dough to do what I wanted. I could see myself proud at the finish line, "I have made phyllo dough from scratch!" bellowing from my dusty lungs as I happily cleaned up my kitchen mess. The mess was there, but I ditched all my leftover dough, chalking it up to learning experience.
Meanwhile, I had made a trio of "crispy nuts". Crispy nuts is the term that Sally Fallon gives to salt-soaked then dehydrated nuts. I've come to be rather addicted to them, and the promise that they are better for me than their non-soaked counterparts. Since I had intended to use Alton Brown's recipe for baklava (he devoted an entire episode, down to making rose water, see it here: part 1
and part 2
...), I used almonds, walnuts and pistachios - the pistachios at more than 16$ a pound being my most expensive ingredient. My dark, almost black, maple syrup (just the way I like it) is relatively local - from my Parent's Amish neighbors. It's downright affordable by comparison.
but pistachios are so worth it. probably my favorite nut.
Crispy nuts in hand, I scanned my pantry to see what I could use to make shells. I was going to make more graham crackers, but spied a box of Maria cookies. I usually keep them on hand in case I need pastel helado
, but I haven't "needed" it since last summer. I forgot I had a huge box, 4 sleeves of cracker type biscuits. They are lightly sweet, and I figured they would make a good base, so I did it: 1 sleeve (7 oz.) Maria cookies, 6 T. butter, melted, a teaspoon of Saigon Cassia cinnamon and an egg for good measure. Then, I pressed them into tart(let) molds. They bake at 350 for 20 minutes or so until golden brown, pretty much the same as a graham cracker crust.
I may have made them a bit too substantial, but they were perfect with this maple mousse which was the most amazing texture and flavor. Super rich, super decadent, this is a thing that I'm going to be insisting all my friends try (and probably I will annoy them in the process) for many months to come. And, those crispy nuts that I figured I would use anyway were accidentally the perfect extra-crispy and slightly salty counterpoint for so much rich creaminess.
via Jaime Oliver is not my boyfriend)
- 1 cup (240 ml/ 8 fluid oz.) pure maple syrup (not maple-flavoured syrup)
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 package (7g/1 tbsp.) unflavoured gelatine
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml. g/12 fluid oz) whipping cream (35% fat content)
Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.
In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).
Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.
Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.
Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.
Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.
Whip the remaining cream.
Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your edible containers.
I am so fortunate that my co-op, the Outpost
, decided to carry the Crystal Ball
heavy cream. Crystal Ball is amazing milk: it is cream line milk which means that it is not homogenized, and while it is pasteurized, up to 1/3 of it is unpasteurized (that is the amount allowed by law.) The heavy cream in particular is perfect for challenges, since it is minimally processed and will act the way that cream is supposed to when it's not ultra-pasteurized and homogenized. On one Daring challenge, my mascarpone did not work, when I found Crystal Ball cream and re-tried it
, it worked magnificently.
A dozen tarts (and I did fill them just before eating and not all in advance) wasn't going to touch the amount of maple mousse I had to contend with. I figured, I'd trifle some with Maria cookies and crispy nuts. This is actually how I'd probably serve them for a party - they look great, and all of the flavors melt together, the cookies becoming almost like soaked ladyfingers. Nuts only on top, and added just before serving, would prevent the inner layered nuts from becoming soggy. I will remember that, since it did seem to take a day for the cookies to get properly softened.in Dur-O-Bor scotch glass. I had two, and broke one, and felt awful. they were from E.
in a wine glass.
Maple syrup is such a favorite of mine. It reminds me of my Gram since it is her favorite flavor, it reminds me of the regeneration of Spring. It's one of the mysteries I love thinking about: who in the world first saw a maple tree and decided to experiment with the sap? That is another reason I like the Daring Bakers. Someone always has a different idea, one that I never would have thought of. I had so much fun with this challenge, even though I certainly will not be the most creative. I look forward to seeing what other Daring Bakers came up with - and if any of them had the idea of making phyllo dough...