(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 http://thedaringkitchen.com!)
I love mousse. If I see chocolate mousse on a dessert menu, it’s almost always what I choose. And I like maple syrup, so I fully expected to like maple mousse.
The mousse was only half of the challenge, though. The other half was edible bowls. There were a few choices, but I didn’t really want to make bacon cups, so I made mine from nuts. They’re very simple – just finely diced walnuts, an egg, and a bit of sugar, pressed into tiny bowls lined with aluminum foil. In retrospect, greasing the inside of the foil would have been a good idea, but I didn’t think about it at the time.
Bake the bowls at 350F for 15 minutes or so until the nuts are toasty.
I looked at them when they came out of the oven, and I wasn’t sure they were going to hold together. I was afraid to try to unmold one, so I coated the inside of the bowls with a layer of dark chocolate, hoping it would add more stability.
It turned out they were quite solid – you could easily pick them up, even full of mousse, so I shouldn’t have worried. But the chocolate was good anyway.
On to the mousse! This was more complicated. It started with blooming unflavored gelatin in heavy cream. Then, I brought a cup of maple syrup to a boil, and very carefully and slowly dribbled it into 4 beaten egg yolks.
Then the recipe said, "Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white." I wasn’t sure the gelatin would set up on the counter to thicken it, and I wasn’t sure how occasionally to whisk – once every 5 minutes? A few times over the hour? So I left it on the counter while I made dinner, whisking it when I thought about it.
And in about 45 minutes, sure enough, it was exactly the consistency of a good, fresh, unbeaten egg white. I was genuinely surprised, and I’m still not sure I understand how it worked. But it did.
After that, it was just a matter of whipping some cream, and carefully folding in the maple mixture. I put it in the fridge to chill for an hour. While it was chilling, I gingerly unmolded the cups. They were a bit stuck to the foil, but not bad, and I shouldn’t have worried about the strength – they were solid.
When the mousse was chilled, I piped it into the cups and sprinkled a few more nuts on top.
They came out gorgeous. They would have made a great dinner party dessert – except that I didn’t like the mousse. The maple flavor was way too strong, and I thought it was almost cloying. On the other hand, I loved the process, and I may do them again, with a different recipe – say, a good peanut butter mousse, with a peanut cup with the chocolate layer?
As always, a fun challenge!