Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Daring Bakers: Edible Containers

Wow! What a month. April has been a big, busy month for me - both food-releated and otherwise. We just got done with a fantastic Easter and now I am working on preparing food and a cake for 100 people for a retirement party for my father-in-law - Congrats to him. As you can see from the title the Daring Bakers are doing an edible container just like the Daring Cooks last month. If you haven't already - check out my last post. It was the first I (I think ) Daring Cooks that was kind of a contest, and to my surprise, I am one of the finalists. There was a lot of good competition so it is a big honor for me. If you haven't already, and if it is before May 17, go to The Daring Kitchen and vote at the top of the page.

Now on to this months challenge. This month Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz challenged us to make an edible container for a maple mousse. Evelyne is from Quebec and gives a very good description of how maple syrup is part of the culture on her blog. Well again I wanted to try to be unique. There are lots of things that go with maple - bacon, nuts, pancakes, squash, sweet potatoes, chocolate - the possibilities are endless. That is part of the reason I am posting this on the last day possible - too many ideas.

The idea I finally settled on was something from my childhood. I grew up in NY and now live in MN - two of the top three maple syrup producers in the US and one of my favorite things as a child was maple sugar candy. If you have never had it - it is just maple syrup and maybe some butter and it is very soft and creamy - just melts in your mouth. I wanted to do the same thing only as a bowl. Easier said than done. I think it took me five tries. The recipes on the internet said to heat to softball stage but I could not get it out of the container without cracking it. I finally ended up using a small silicone measuring bowl for the mold and heating the syrup up close to hard ball stage - it worked like a charm then.

Even though I am crazy about all things maple I thought maybe I needed something else with my maple mousse in a maple bowl. I decided to put small chocolate bowl (not easy either) in the maple bowl and I am using two kinds of mousse. Every month I see someone in the Daring Bakers use Nutella in their challenge so I decided it was now my turn. I thought it would go perfect with the maple.

The results were really good. The maple mousse was really good - a nice maple / buttery taste and smooth texture. I think the texture was much nicer than most mousse I have had. I think the nutella mousse was great too - I am sure my wife liked it better. It had that great nutella flavor and it went very nice with the maple from the mousse and the bowl.

While the maple bowl was not quite as I imagined it - it didn't have that creamy texture of the candies I remember - it still was easy to eat and lots of great maple flavor. I assume the difference in texture was because of having to take it to the higher temperature since my first attempts were much softer.

I'll post my recipe for the Nutella mousse here but if you would like to check out the maple mousse you can find that recipe in the challenge posted here.

Nutella Mousse

  • 1 teaspoon gelatin
  • 1/4-1/2 cup nutella
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  1. Put 2 tablespoons of cream in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the top. Set aside to soften gelatin.
  2. Whip the remaining cream.
  3. Add nutella a few tablespoons at a time and beat to combine. You can use 1/4-1/2 cup nutella to suit your taste.
  4. Add the cream/gelatin mixture and combine.
  5. Put the mousse into serving bowls and chill until set (about 1-2 hours).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Daring Cooks: Edible Containers

Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers!

Yup - that was the whole challenge. We could make whatever we wanted for an edible container and put whatever we wanted into it. In some ways that is the hardest kind of challenge since it is so open, but it is also fun to try to come up with something creative. Renata gave us several examples of things we could do - but I kind of wanted to come up with something different.

I thought of the idea of weaving something but kind of ruled it out. When my wife, Lara, later suggested it ( and I couldn't think of anything better ) I decided to give it a try. I shaved off thin peels from zucchini and yellow squash. I microwaved them a little to soften them up. I can't say the weaving was easy. I am not normally one to give up on something but I tried it before my wife got home from work and gave up. I did not expect it to work but my wife got it to work - she has done some basket making - who knew that would be a helpful skill in the kitchen.

I think the basket turned out pretty nice. It was cute and "edible". It was also very difficult and I would not want to be making these for a large dinner party. For the contents I made a grilled squash salad. The salad is very easy and quick to make. It tasted very good and looked nice and springy in the basket.

Thanks to Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! for this months challenge. Renata is one of my favorite Daring Cooks. She always has very creative solutions to the challenges and she is always very active in the forums and commenting on peoples blogs. Check out her blog - it is in Portuguese but she has an English version as well.
Grilled Squash Salad
Serves about 4
  • 3-4 zucchini and yellow squash
  • 8-12 peppadew peppers (these are hard to find so another sweet or slightly hot pepper could be substituted)
  • 2 T vegetable oil (or EVOO)
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 clove garlic
  • 2 t fresh basil
  • 1 T Parmesan cheese
  1. Wash the squash well if you are not peeling it. Julienne the squash (I used a mandolin).
  2. Mix the squash with 1T of the oil and the salt and pepper.
  3. Mix the remaining 1 T oil and remaining ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Cook squash mixture over a medium-hot grill until tender (only takes 2 minutes or so).
  5. Toss the squash with the lemon juice mixture.