So everything went horribly wrong, but then it went a little right, but not after much cursing and a mess of epic proportions. Then my knee acted up due to a big storm, delaying this entry even more. I’m now three days late. I think that’s a record for me.
That’s how I’m going to begin this entry because everything did go horribly wrong. Ultimate FAIL; UTTER disaster. I planned out this latest Daring Baker’s Challenge last week. I tried to plan it out weeks before, but every time I came up with something, either someone else had done it, or after much thought, I decided it was A) too much trouble since it might not work, B) probably wouldn’t work, or C) not cohesive.
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.
I’m not going to get into the details of what went horribly wrong with my first idea, since I plan on doing it again within a few weeks, but I will tell you that I had everything ready to go except for two components, both forgotten about when it came time to put everything together for photographs.
I had the post written out, the photo area set up, and planned to have this up by 11:59 pm April 26th ..one minute before the clock struck April 27th. Then I would get a good night’s sleep, dreaming of my next entry. All sounds peachy, huh? Well, I never slept, because I ended up working on a completely different idea all night long.
I had to start from scratch using Plan B, and Plan B, although pretty, didn’t initially work out very well either.
This month is the sweet version of edible containers, and I almost didn’t have a container, just a stand, stump..whatever you’d want to call a small round of french toasted pound cake. BUT, I persevered, and my mousse stood tall in its own edible container, although that really didn’t turn out how I wanted either. Beats the stump container, though.
That said, I can tell you what went wrong with Plan B. When Plan A, which I loved, backfired on me at the very last second, I decided I would make little entremet like cakes, since our hostess asked us to make an edible container to hold this yummy maple mousse recipe she provided. Mousse cakes was what I decided on, and I love them, in case you didn’t know. So, it would be a joconde as my ‘container’, then maple mousse and whatever else struck me while preparing it.
So, I had some joconde left over from the Joconde Imprime/Entremet challenge last January, in the freezer. I let it defrost, still calm and sure this was going to be a piece of cake..ha ha. As the joconde defrosted, I made the mousse, candied some bacon (part of this challenge was the option of pairing the mousse with candied bacon; I decided a little wouldn’t hurt, although I’m still not sold on meat in sweets. UPDATE – After a bag of pecan bacon brittle, I’m sort of getting there.), then thought long and hard about what else I wanted to add to these little towers of maple mousse.
I decided on a strawberry confit of a sort (I felt the addition of bacon afforded me the right to call it a confit – heh), diced strawberries macerated with a little sugar, then combined with a bit of finely diced candied bacon, a grind or two of black pepper, and a bit of gelatin to stabilize it so it would remain suspended in the middle of the mousse, a surprise in the center!
This is the moment I first blew it. A ‘What was she thinking?’ moment. I could have sworn I had gelatin leaves and powder left. I didn’t; I should have double-checked. It was now 2 am, nothing open. I saw a box of strawberry JELLO, and I felt this was genius in a pinch, just a little bit to set it up, completely forgetting all the red food color in a package of strawberry JELLO. SO, my inner cloud of strawberries and bits of bacon now looked like Leatherface stopped by for dessert. Oh, and it didn’t ‘suspend’ in mid-mousse because of the red, red, red JELLO blood-letting seepage into a pound cake crumb labyrinth.
Oh well, at least the flavors were there. The contrast of slightly tart strawberries and bacon bits with this maple mousse was really nice ( I tasted A LOT of the two together to make sure before layering), although some might find it odd, trust me on this one.
Hershey’s chocolate syrup is NOT recommended as a substitute for joconde paste. Stripes of fudge was my hope, until I tried to pull it off the parchment paper. One of my stupidest baking moments, for sure.
Now that I had everything ready to go, (it’s still early enough to finish and get a good night’s sleep, at this point) I returned to my defrosted joconde. All I needed to do was cut some circles and strips to line the mousse rings, then pour in the mousse, strawberry confit and more mousse. Whoohoo, sooo easy!! The joconde is actually the biggest pain in the butt when using one for an entremet; the mousses and any other components are usually simple and fail proof.
I didn’t have to make it again because here it was..READY to go! (thank you, freezer!)! I anxiously unwrapped it, but as I removed each sheet, it started to fall apart in my hands. WTF?? I removed another piece more carefully because it felt very delicate, and not right, so I’m suspecting freezer burn here – ziplock-not-lock-completely. I placed it down verrry gently on a sheet pan, and started to cut, then gingerly lifted the cut piece up. Boom..insta-disintegration. Soon I was whimpering into a sea of wet crumbs, chocolate and vanilla crumbs, not even one joconde paste stripe remaining or remotely recognizable. Now what??? I needed to think of something, quick!
You know, I had originally thought of a kind of maple bacon bread pudding cup, and at this point, I wish I had went with it!
So, against my better judgement, especially since there was a lot of humidity in the air that day, I decided to make another joconde/imprime. I would make a walnut sponge, and forget about the damn joconde paste! Again, against my better judgement, and a ‘What was she thinking?’ moment #2, I hastily grabbed a bottle of Hershey’s chocolate syrup from the fridge and went all Picasso on the parchment paper, then chucked it in the freezer and made the sponge. Yes, a good chance this won’t work, but just as good of a chance that it will.
Here’s a lesson learned – it’s not a good idea to ‘try’ or experiment with something when you’re on a sort of deadline; better to stick with something tried and true. You guessed it, didn’t work! See photo above! I should have avoided the Hershey’s syrup; I mean, who cares if I had an un-decorated ‘container’ of simple, walnut sponge? Lesson learned, lesson learned, lesson learned – yeah, whatever.
So, I grabbed a frozen pound cake and cut out circles to fit in my mousse rings, then french toast battered and fried them up, and this was my container, a circle of french toasted pound cake. That’s a stump, not a container or bowl. Sad, isn’t it? Well, since I was already late, I decided to give one more container a try, a more tried and true one. Hazelnut lace cookie bowls. However, a little twist; I added a tiny bit of chopped, candied bacon to the lace cookie batter. Voila. Now I have an edible container, and it’s three days late. Most Daring Bakers have probably moved on and won’t see it. The reveal thread is rife with tumbleweeds.
Strawberry filled Maple Mousse and French Toasted Pound Cake in Candied Bacon Hazelnut Lace Bowls
Hazelnut Bacon Lace Cookie Bowls
makes 7-9 cookie bowls but you only need 4 for this recipe
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 Tablespoon finely chopped, partially cooked bacon
French Toasted Pound Cake Circles
four 3-inch circles cut from four 1-inch slices of your favorite homemade or store-bought pound cake,
1/4 cup heavy cream (You can use half and half or milk)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons butter
Maple syrup to brush cake circles
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 (I added an extra 1/2 teaspoon since I was pouring to mold)
1 1/2 cups (360 ml. g/12 fluid oz) whipping cream (35% fat content)
Strawberry ‘Confit’ Filling
6 fresh strawberries, stemmed and diced finely
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely diced, cooked, chopped bacon, or candied bacon (optional since candied bacon is in the cookie bowl)
1/2 teaspoon powdered gelatin, dissolved in 1 scant tablespoon of cold water
freshly ground black pepper, about 1 or two grinds. (optional)
FOR THE HAZELNUT BACON LACE COOKIE BOWLS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the hazelnuts and flour. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir the dry ingredients into a pan. Transfer the batter to a bowl and stir occasionally until it thickens into a dough and is cool enough to handle, about 25 minutes. Stir in candied bacon pieces.
2. With moistened hands, roll the dough into heaping tablespoon size balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets, 2 at a time, since they’re large and will spread quite a bit. Bake about 10-12 minutes, or until the active bubbling subsides. Place the baking sheet on rack and let cool until the cookies are firm enough to lift with a flexible metal spatula but are still malleable, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Using 2 small soup bowls measuring 4 1/2 to 5-inches across the tops – when set but still malleable, lift the cookies, one at a time, and place each in a bowl, nutty, bumpy side up. Gently press the bottom to flatten. Let set, then remove and continue with rest of cookie bowls. You should get about 7 – 9 bowls. You need 4 bowls for this recipe.
FOR THE FRENCH TOASTED POUND CAKE CIRCLES;
1. In a medium bowl whisk egg, cream, spices. Soak pound cake circles in the mixture, making sure all sides are soaked. Let sit for 5 minutes.
2. Heat butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Transfer soaked pound cake circles to the skillet and fry until golden brown on each side.
FOR THE MAPLE MOUSSE:
1. Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.
2. 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).
3. Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.
4. 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 microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.
5. Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.
6. Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.
7. Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream.
FOR THE STRAWBERRY CONFIT:
1. Place diced strawberries in a bowl with sugar, and let macerate (sit and get juicy) for about 10-15 minutes. Melt softened gelatin in the microwave for 5 seconds, or place bowl in a saute pan of simmering water, to melt. Stir candied bacon (if using) and melted gelatin into strawberries, then a grind or two of black pepper, if desired. Let sit until strawberry liquid thickens, like egg white.
1. Line 4 mousse rings with acetete or parchment paper, extending a few inches above the rims.
2. Place one french toasted pound cake circle in the bottom of each mousse ring. Brush each with maple syrup.
3. Divide half of mousse equally between the four mousse rings. Top each with a heaping tablespoon of strawberry confit, then pour the remaining mousse on top, again equally in each mousse ring. Place in fridge and let set for several hours to overnight. Gently remove the mousse from rings and place each mousse tower in a bacon hazelnut lace bowl. Top with a drizzle of maple syrup, some candied bacon, and a piece of strawberry.