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! Firstly, this challenge was a cooking trip back to my home province of Québec. Born and raised there, Spring always meant sugar shack time, so maple syrup is definitely part of my heritage. Secondly, the container suggested for this mousse was none other than bacon! Bacon? Yes, oh yes…Glorious bacon.
We got this challenge underway in no time. I enlisted my honey in this challenge, because I wanted the cups to be perfectly shaped, and I knew he had the skill and patience to make these work (patience, I confess, I don’t have a lot of when it comes to stuff like that ;( ). As the results show, the cups were perfectly executed (thanks hun!)
This challenge gave me an opportunity to try a product I tasted at Edible BC in the Granville Island Market: Birch syrup. I had first tried it as part of a limited edition salted caramel birch syrup chocolate made by our favorite chocolate artisan, Chocolatas. The story, according to the salesperson, was that Edible BC approached Chocolatas and asked them to experiment with the birch syrup. The result was that divine piece of chocolate perfection. I thought it was great that merchants in the market interacted this way. A few months later, we came across that syrup while browsing at Edible BC. We got to taste it, and found the taste not quite as sweet as maple syrup, but interesting nonetheless. I couldn’t think of what to use it for to justify paying the somewhat steep price, but kept it in the back of my mind.
When I read this challenge, I thought, here’s my opportunity. So I split this recipe into two, one half was maple mousse, and the other half became birch mousse. Although I think the quantity of gelatine in the recipe was a bit too much, the two syrups/eggs mixtures really congealed, the whipped cream managed to bring everything together. As for the birch mousse, the lesson learned is that this syrup should be mostly used as a flavouring agent instead of an actual ingredient. I used the same quantity of syrup (1/2 cup) as I did for the maple. The birch syrup is not as “syrupy” as the maple is. The mousse tasted more like molasses, and reminded me of the homemade molasses taffy I used to make with my grandma. However, when eaten/combined with the bacon cup, the taste became much more subtle. We topped both desserts with some walnuts and grated dark chocolate.
This challenge really got our imagination going into other ways we could use bacon cups. You just can’t beat the taste and aroma of bacon. Thanks for a great challenge, Evelyne!
• 24 thin slices good quality bacon
1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C.
2. Take a muffin pan or 6 small ½ cup capacity heat-proof bowls, turn upside down and carefully form aluminum foil covers on the back of 6 muffin cups or the bowls.
3. Taking 2 strips of bacon at a time crisscross the strips over the backs of the muffin cups and cut to size a tad longer then the bottom part of the cup. Now use 1 to 2 more strips to cover the sides of the muffin cups in a weaving fashion. You want a full tight weave because bacon shrinks a lot. For smaller cups I used a shot glass with a square of bacon for the bottom and I wrapped 1 strip around the side.
4. Tuck the ends of the bacon strips inside otherwise they will curl while cooking. A good idea is to insert 4 toothpicks where the crisscrossed bacon meets in the weave.
5. Place muffin pan in a cookie tray to catch drippings. Bake in oven for about 25 to 40 minutes, or until the bacon is golden and crisp but not burned.
6. Cool completely, a good hour, before removing your cups delicately from the foil.
• 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)
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 and refrigerate for at least an hour.
8. Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your edible containers.