Edible containers are a part of my baking. I make them at Christmas, parties and so on. However, I've never thought of them as edible containers. They were just cookie cups or bowl filled with some kinda cream, buttercream, jam or nut filling. That's it. Nothing special. Until now. You can imagine almost anything as an edible container. Cookie cups and bowl, profiterols (cream puffs), pastry cones, waffle cones, edible plates etc. Simply anything. What would you come up with?
I had pretty tough time deciding what to make especially when I'd seen all the incredible wonderful creations by my fellow bakers. Oh yes, I love them all. So creative and amazing! These guys have the best ideas. And then when I was walking through a local store with cake decorating supplies and stuff like that I saw a perfect iron cookie mold in a shape of egg shell. I immediately fell in love with it and bought it. And that's how I came up with my idea.
As Easter was getting closer I chose to use its theme in my containers (well, the egg shape is pretty obvious :D). My sister always asks me to make it a bit sweeter for her (I don't get this one - it's way sweet, how could she eat it even sweeter??). I couldn't add any sugar to the mousse as no one else would eat something sooo sweet and the containers were there to balance the sweetness so no sugar added either. And then I saw the leftover marzipan from Christmas (carefully packed and definitely not expired) staring at me from my pantry. Okay, this could be it! When the day D came, I took out the marzipan and was ready to create a nice lovely marzipan chick but oh no! The marzipan was mouldy. I have no idea how this happened - I thought this wasn't even possible. Never mind, I threw it away and found a very easy recipe for powdered milk paste (very tasty) and used this instead.
I had no idea that making edible animals from any kind of paste was that easy :) I filled one half of the egg shell with maple mousse, then I placed the chick onto it and one chocolate mini egg next to the chick. This was served to the children. I know it's a bit too cheesy but children usually love that :) For the grown-up ones, I filled a pastry bag with star tip with the mousse and piped it into the shell, drizzled with tart strawberry & raspberry sauce (which I made in summer last year) and dusted with more grated maple cocoa spiced cookies. The sauce provided a nice contrast to the sweet mousse.
When it comes to the recipe for the cookie shells, I made up this one by myself. I was really scared how it'd trurn out, because there's maple syrup and that's pretty expensive here where I live. And I have to admit I was really disappointed at first because they were rock-hard, like a stone! Okay, spiced cookies are usually hard, but they usually soften up. So I let my cookie shells rest for a week at room temperature and they soften up very slightly. Just a little tiny bit. Okay, I was extremely dissapointed for the second time. I gave them one more chance and filled them with the mousse, refrigerated them overnight and the next day and voilá! They were perfect! Soft, but still firm enough to hold the mousse, not very sweet and simply very tasty. Success :)
As for the maple syrup, I've always used to buy the one from Steeves Maples. I know it's not pure maple syrup as it contains sugar, water and maple flavouring, but I just love its taste. However, I bought the real thing for this challenge and I cannot say I'd be very happy. The pure maple syrup has so strange maple flavour which is really hard to describe. I only can say it's very sharp and strong, a little caramel-like and sweet, but for me it's just somewhat unpleasant on its own. The mousse is good, because there's the whipping cream and therefore the maple taste is much weaker, but still. Next time I'll definitely use the fake but sooo good Steeves Maples syrup (but in the cookie shells I'd use the pure one - the flavour is stronger). Maybe it's because I used the Canadian #2 Amber (the only one sold in my country - at least I haven't seen any other grade here). Btw, the Steeves Maples one and the pure maple syrup are sold for the same price in the Czech Republic (aprox. 35 US dollars/ 1000ml=33.8 fl. oz).
Before I get to the recipe, I'd like to mention that I decorated the shells with brown royal icing, let it dry overnight and then filled with the mousse. Let the shells rest for at least 3 days after baking them before you decorate them (but it's not necessary to decorate the shells).
25g (1-3/4 tbsp) butter
65g (1/2 cup) powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp baking soda
65g (50ml; 1/5 cup) pure maple syrup
10g (1/2 tbsp) cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
225g (1-3/4 cup) all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 egg for eggwash
320g (240ml; 1 cup) pure maple syrup
4 large egg yolks
360ml (1-1/2 cups) whipping cream (30-40% fat content)
Decoration for children:
15-20 chocolate mini eggs
15-20 marzipan/sugarpaste/milk paste chicks
Decoration for adults:
aprox. 1 cup strawberry & raspberry sauce (preferably homemade)
1 cookie shell, finely grated
Cookie shells: Put flour into a large bowl and set aside. In a deep saucepan, combine the rest of the ingredients and bring to boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 30 seconds, remove from heat and immediately pour into the bowl with flour. Mix well using wooden spatula, then use your hands and mix until smooth, solid dough forms. Roll out the dough on a slightly floured surface into a thin rectangle (thickness aprox. 3mm). Cut out large eggs, place them on lightly greased egg molds and let dry out for about 50 minutes at room temperature. Then bake in preheated oven to 180C for about 6-9 minutes. They should sound hollow when tapped. Let cool for 1 minute and immediately brush the surface of the shells with eggwash (this will make them shiny). Remove from molds and let cool completely. Store at room temperature on a plate for about a week to soften a bit.
Maple Mousse: 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 60ml (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. Make sure the gelatine doesn't boil!! 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 two hours.
Assembly: Remove the mousse from the fridge. If it's too firm, whisk it for three or four times until smooth and and a bit runnier than before. For children, pour the mousse into the half of the shell, place chick into the middle and one chocolate egg next to it. For adults, fill your pastry bag fitted with desider tip with the mousse (which should be firm in order to hold its shape) and pipe it into the shell, drizzle with strawberry & raspberry sauce and sprinkle with grated cookie shell. In both cases, refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Then it's ready to be served.
- You can decorate the shells with royal icing to make them more festive. Here you'll find some useful tips as well as the recipe for the icing. Decorate them 3 days after baking (so that the icing won't fall off).
- Make the shells 1 week ahead - they need time to soften.
- The taste of maple syrup cannot be substituted but there are substitutes for the recipes if really obliged. For 1 cup (240 ml) maple syrup try: 3/4 cup (180 ml) corn syrup plus 1/4 cup (57 grams) butter plus 1/2 teaspoon maple extract (optional); 1 cup (240 ml) honey (the taste is totally different though). You can also try making your own sugar syrup:
place granulated sugar (1/2 cup; 100g) in a heavy skillet. Heat until the sugar melts and turns brown. Meanwhile, place brown sugar (1 cup; 220g) into a heavy saucepan. Pour boiling water (1cup; 240ml) over brown sugar and bring to a boil without stirring. Add caramelized white sugar to the melted brown sugar in the saucepan. Simmer, stirring often, until syrup is thickened. Remove from heat, and whisk in butter (1 tsp) and maple or vanilla extract (1 tsp).
I really like the containers, they remind me a little bit gingerbread cookies when it comes to taste (not texture). At first they're like a stone, but after few days and refrigerating they soften up and become very pleasant in taste, though the maple flavour isn't very strong. However, the mousse wasn¨t as good as I'd expected. I mean it's really tasty, but I just don't like the sharp and strong maple flavour that much. I think that I'd enjoy it much more with the fake maple syrup :D But the combination of maple mousse and tart & sour fruit sauce was amazing! Very refreshing, balanced and not overly sweet. The mousse has a wonderful "moussy" texture - bubbly, airy and light. It's a bit too sweet, but when eaten with the shell, it's balanced, too. The cookie shell isn't too sweet at all. You can taste the salty notes accompanied by spicy flavour. It's a nice dessert, but don't think I'll make it very often (I know about better ways how to use maple syrup), but it was nice to try out something new and our Easter table definitely wasn't boring :)
Sweets for a Saturday