Almost Sweet NOTHINGS - Eat the Bowl Part Two - Parsley, Sage, and Sweet

Almost Sweet NOTHINGS – Eat the Bowl Part Two

April 30, 2011 at 10:13 am | Posted in Cakes, Cookies, Daring Bakers, Dessert, Puddings | 55 Comments
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So everything went horribly wrong – but then it went a little right, but not after much cursing, screaming, 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, 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. 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’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 great, huh?  Well, I never slept, because I ended up working on a completely different idea all night long – 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 let my mousse stand tall in it’s own, edible container, although that really didn’t turn out how I wanted either.  Beats the stump container, though.

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 lovely hostess asked us to make an edible container to hold this yummy maple mousse recipe she provided.  Mousse cakes, love them, in case you didn’t know.  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), 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 that right – 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 JELL-O. 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 JELL-O.  Enough said, 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 clockwork red JELL-O blood-letting seepage into pound cake crumb labrynith.

Oh well, at least the flavors were there.  The contrast of slightly tart strawberries and bacon bits with this maple mousse, was sublime ( 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 off the parchment paper.  One of my stupidest baking moments lol

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 the mousse – strawberry confit – 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.  As I removed each sheet, it started to fall apart in my hands.  WTF??  Removed another piece more carefully, it felt very delicate, and not right – I’m suspecting freezer burn here – zip-not-lock-completely.  I placed it down verrry gently on a sheet pan, and started to cut – then gingerly lifted the cut piece up, insta-disintegration.  Soon I was whimpering into a sea of wet crumbs, chocolate and vanilla crumbs – not even a joconde paste stripe remaining or remotely recognizable.  Now what???  I need to think of something, quick!

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 ‘What was she thinking?, NUMBER TWO, I hastily grabbed a bottle of Hershey’s chocolate syrup from the fridge and went all Picasso on parchment paper - then chucked it in the freezer and made the sponge.  Yes, good chance this won’t work, but also just as good a chance 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! I should have avoided the Hershey’s syrup – who cares if I had an undecorated  ‘container’ of simple, walnut sponge?  Lesson learned, lesson learned, lesson learned – yeah, whatever.

I grabbed a frozen pound cake and cut out circles to fit in my mousse rings, then french toast battered and fried them up.

So, this was my container, a circle of french toasted pound cake.  That’s a stand – a stump.  Kind of 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, partially cooked 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.

If you want some more recipes for edible containers. and a recipe for vegan maple mousse, click HERE.  To see all the cool edible containers created by my fellow Daring Bakers, click on the links to their blog, HERE.

Maple Mousse Towers in Hazelnut Bacon Lace Cookie 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
4 3-inch circles cut from 4 1-inch slices of your favorite homemade pound cake,
2 eggs
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

Maple Mousse
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, candied bacon
1/2 teaspoon powdered gelatin, dissolved in 1 scant Tablespoon of cold water
freshly ground black pepper, about 1 or two grinds.

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.

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 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 bacon and melted gelatin into strawberries, then a grind or two of black pepper. Let sit until strawberry liquid thickens, like egg white.

ASSEMBLE:
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 reamining  mousse on top, again equally in each mousse ring,  Place in fridge and let set for several hours to overnight,  Top with a drizzle of maple syrup, some candied bacon, and a piece of strawberry.


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  1. What a funny post! These type of things have happened to me too many times… In the end though it turned out beautiful. Your photos are great. Best, Sandie

  2. Absolutely gorgeous, like everything you do. You were so brave to not give up and still end up with a fabulous dessert.

  3. That was quite a story and I’m still chuckling over the “leatherface” line. For all the effort, swearing and frustration you pulled it off. Hope you’ve had some restful sleep.

  4. I’m sorry you had such a rough time with this challenge, but I had a blast reading about it. I had some issues with this challenge myself – except, in my case, the problem was the mousse, not the containers. Sigh… I love the idea of an entremets, too bad it didn’t work out. But the lace hazelnut bowls sound delightful!

  5. I love coming here a few days after the challenge deadline to see what sort of kitchen disaster you’ve got yourself into this time.
    :)
    You always seem to pull it off, and with gorgeous results. Nicely done! I didn’t have a chance to do this challenge, sadly, but am now on the train on the way home to my own kitchen. yay!

  6. I’m still looking and you prevailed! Your adventure sounds amusing but I don’t envy your frustration and lost sleep. I hope you have been able to catch up on some sleep since completing the challenge and to unwind while fully enjoying your finished product.

  7. I am so sorry for your frustration but it does sound like you pulled it off with lots of creativity and hard work.

  8. O my goodness girl! You certainly get an A for effort and dedication and sheer perseverance. I would have given up a long time before you and I do think the end result looks marvelous!

  9. Oh my! I certainly would have thrown in the towel long before you did! Your maple mousse does look marvelous, though, and I love the strawberry surprise in the middle.

  10. Oh, man – can’t win for tryin’ sometimes. But all of your ideas were great – sorry they gave you such trouble! As always, though, your fails look better than most of my successes!! I love that you always keep going. And that you post so honestly about it all! <3

  11. Gorgeous creations! I really love your cups and the pretty presentation!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  12. Okay these are seriously divine looking. Great job on the challenge. Your post was entertaining as well. Glad I’m not the only one who does some major bluppers! xoxox

  13. it sounds like this challenge pout you through hell, but it is picture perfect and thats all that matters! Congratulations on such a beautiful and I’m sure delicious creation!

  14. Hazelnut bacon lace cookie sups sounds amazing even without the gorgeous mousse with berries and maple on top…too beautiful!

  15. You crack me up! You don’t even want to know what’s in my freezer, yet to be revealed! I was going to sit this one out – just didn’t have the energy to be creative this month, but John came up with a cute idea, with an edible container which we did not make, but filled with one of his creations, and have yet to taste or photograph it! You really persevered and came through with flying colors, as usual! Now, since I’m hosting the DC this month, get your ass back in the kitchen and make me proud ;-)

  16. Brilliant comeback! I would still be sulking under my duvet. I really felt your pain reading about the crumbling sponge, but your dessert turned out so beautifully in the end. I NEED French toasted pound cake in my life, and I think the little pocket of strawberries looks beautiful. It looks so tasty!

  17. An absolute work of art daaaaahling! You must have the patience of a saint to go through all the steps of this desert. I dont think I’d be able to handle it, it seems so involved, but you created another masterpiece.
    *kisses* HH

  18. I’m sorry I’m laughing at your failure, but you did it with such style. :) Your mousse and container look pretty good to me, and I’m sure the taste was there. As Dolly Parton sings, “Its all wrong, but its all right!”.
    We’ve all had our moments. I have had plenty and discovered the hard way not get “creative” at the last moment myself. I’d say fench toasted pound cake was more creative than my meringue nests! LOL

  19. That was hilarious although not while you were going through it I’m sure. Your results and photos fantastic as always…yummmy. I applaud your ability never to give up; which will get you far to your destination. Keep it up!

  20. What a great post. Triumph over adversity! Love how it ended up. And I’m taking a note on Hershey’s syrup will stick with using it in milk or squirting directly in my mouth.

  21. Very neat to read about your adventures in making this. You are super creative with all the alternatives, and the resulting dessert looks absolutely fabulous!

  22. If I were a coach, i’d say “shake it off slugger, it happens to the best of us!”
    I think all of us can relate to thinking we had something but not checking and then it being too late to do anything about that. I’ve done it with flour (sorta important, no?)
    I couldn’t help but think of the Seinfeld episode with the muffin top everytime you used the word “stump” in your post lol.
    In the end, they did turn out looking great and it’s all in good fun anyways, right:)?

  23. Absolutely love how adventurous and creative you got with the challenge! WOW!!

  24. This makes me smile AND feel your frustration. But you perservered and that what the DBs do! Great post, great photos, great effort.

  25. Do I need say it again that your posts have me rolling on the floor every single time? And every time it is a disaster that you recount, inch by painful (or painfully hysterical?) inch and yet you turn out the most gorgeous desserts anywhere! I love your combo of flavors and the result is stunning! And boy do I know what you mean about waiting till the last second to try and throw a challenge together! But now if I could only do that and create such beauties! And now I want a taste please!

  26. Aw Lisa, so sorry to hear of the challenging challenge. But those containers still look mighty fine, I disagree, not stump-like at all. I think they are more pedestal-like, to display a work of beauty. Strawberry confit is certainly a thing of beauty!

  27. I love how you persevere no matter what. Your final dessert looks fabulous–you would never know how much aggravation you had making it.

  28. You are SO hilarious and impressive all at the same time. One look at this and no way is there a Leatherface connection. I know. It was one of the failed plans, but I’m so cracking up over the image. You stayed up all night? JEEZ. It paid off big time, though. I thought of making the joconde and entrements since I never did it, but pooped out on the idea. Nice. Very nice, Lis!

  29. Been a lurker for awhile. Are you professionally trained? You make some really top notch desserts,inlcuding these, with great flavors. Very pleasing on the eyes.

    • Thank you, Ivan. No, not professionally trained. I just read a lot, watched a lot and I love to play with my food ;)

  30. Lisa, even though this was fraught with disaster the end product doesn’t reflect it at all! You did a beautiful job and you definitely overcame the obstacles (and I would have tried syrup too in place of joconde paste, part of the experimentation process). Now I am really intrigued at reading about your first idea soon too! ;)

  31. Wow that’s quite a story. Now I don’t feel so bad about my Hokey Pokey problems. Although, I think you’re too hard on yourself if it tasted great and looks great, especially the cut away shot!

  32. Late or not, your challenge results are absolutely gorgeous! And no one can ever question your dedication, right? ;) Great work.

  33. Phew, Lisa, I’m tired out just reading this post! The fact that you stuck with it until you got it right is a tribute to your ambitious spirit(I wish I had a fraction of it)! Your final product is always amazing! Kudos to you for a job well done! And yes, maybe my granddaughter and your nephew will be an item one day:)

  34. Wow..love the bacon in the lace cookie, and the towers of mousse look so cool!

  35. Saw this on dessertstalking, vey nice. Do you take orders?

    • No, Ben..I don’t, I’m sorry :( Maybe sometime in the future, who knows?

  36. Your are amazing. I would have lost all patience after about step 1. This maple mousse sounds incredible. And, a pound cake french toast base sounds lovely, but the lace cookies look delicate and crispy. Perfect contrast with the mousse!

  37. Wow, these are so cute, and I love the edible cups with hazelnut and bacon…a salty touch to the sweet. Beautifully done again…hope you have a great weekend :-)

  38. Lisa, I am not sure how I missed these beauties from the blog list. They look awesome and they must be so yummy. Isn’t it amazing when we get a failure and we are in a time crunch. I need to learn how to execute the challenge two weeks before!

    Well done!

  39. Hello, hello! It’s been a while. Great to visit and have a giggle at your posts like always. You’re so funny.

    But on a serious note, I love how something that apparently went horribly wrong, ended up looking so great. Well done. DELICIOUS!

  40. Hello there i just want say thank for the inspiration i found your site amazing

    Thank you

    -Kathy
    healthandwellnessconsultants.com

  41. Lisa, Lisa, Lisa, Lisa! After reading your comment about my bread (and not sure you read what happened that day – but it was SUCH A DISASTER) then to come here and read this has me still doubled over. I know I have told you this before – but you are the most tenacious woman I have ever “not quite” met! When you take on a challenge, there is no stopping you until you succeed somehow someway. And then you have no problem telling everyone how hard it was to get there. That is what I love about you! You are humble, tenacious and always triumphant.
    The Eat Alberta Conference was last Saturday, so now, I am back to “normal life”. Phew. I have truly missed writing and posting, reading and learning and cooking! And clearly, gut laughing like I have done today reading you!
    XO
    Valerie
    Hope your knee gets better. There is nothing like one’s health failing to put a kink in things. Take care of it! :)

  42. I really enjoyed reading your post and I’m pleased to see that you did not give up till you got it right. You’ve got some amazing pics on your blog. Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks so much! It was definitely a culinary nightmare, but it tasted good :)

  43. Wow….beautiful dessert! Cant wait to try it!

  44. Oh my goodness! We’ve all been there! Well, I know I have – and you recovered beautifully. I know some of my best recipes have come from last-minute changes. These look fabulous. ♥- Katrina

  45. Oh my goodness, when I looked up the word persistence in the dictionary, there was your photo! I don’t know if I could have picked myself up after all that. You’re an inspiration. You remind me of Julia. She wouldn’t have been fussed about a disaster or 3.

  46. OMG Lisa, even through our conversations I had no idea you had it this rough with this challenge. I feel so bad for you but you are such a trooper. I can’t believe you spent a sleepless night out of it.

    I LOVE your strawberry confit and the french toast pound cake and the great hazelnut bacon tuiles. You result is stunning in my book, as usual.

    This may sound stupid but I have so much respect for you as a baker from following your blog for so long I am almost touched by the fact I got to challenge you ;-)

    Big hug my friend, Evelyne xoxoxox

  47. I’ve been following your blog for awhile now because I love your writing, its so real and not contrived to try and lure people. You show your mistakes, which is breath of fresh air. Also, your skillz in the kitchen are mind-blowing. Most would never come up with a tower of mousse as a plan b! At 2 in the morning, I would have plopped the mousse in an canned biscuit dough biscuit and been done with it!!

  48. The mousse towers look fantastic! This is what I call “labour of love”.

  49. Yah know its good to hear that a majorly talented cook and baker has flub ups now and then. So, like, I know never to use Hersheys syrup in this way. In the end though you turned out an amazing piece of artwork, pastry, as always. And it is certainly a stump that I would stand in line to eat!

  50. I wish my successes looked as good as your fails. Really. I totally wiffed last month and am terrified by this month’s challenge, so I may get kicked out yet.

  51. yum


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