From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I'm so pleased to be able to share this recipe with you. I found it while scouting for desserts that would compliment the non-traditional menu I was planning for our Thanksgiving dinner. It sounded wonderful but it seemed involved and was more work than I had intended to do. I put the recipe away, but I kept thinking about it and in a weak moment decided to give it a try. The maple flavored mousse cake was an enormous hit with my taste testers, and their praise guaranteed it a spot on the Thanksgiving menu. As a matter of fact, the Silver Fox, who I swear channels Bob Cratchit, gave it his highest and most sought accolade, "Another triumph, my dear!" That always leaves me tongue-tied and verklempt. The cake was originally developed by Kathleen Callahan for Food and Wine magazine. Her creation has a pecan crust that's topped with a frozen mousse and garnished with cranberries that simmer to tart perfection in a bath of simple syrup. The berries add wonderful color to the cake and help cut the sweetness of the frozen mousse. The cake and candied cranberries can be made up to 4 days before serving and that makes them a boon for busy cooks. While the cake is frozen, it never gets rock solid and it can be served directly from the freezer, so it's a real space saver for overcrowded holiday kitchens. Do not make the mousse with imitation syrup. If you are unable to find grade B syrup, grade A can be substituted, but the cake will be lighter in color and lack the caramel-like flavor that grade B syrup imparts. I really like this dessert, and, yes, it had my socks going up and down. I hope you will try it. Here's the recipe.
Frozen Maple-Mousse Pie with Candied Cranberries...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Kathleen Callahan and Food and Wine magazine
2 cups pecans (8 ounces)
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup pure grade B maple syrup
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
1-1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 ounces fresh cranberries (2 cups)
1-1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
1) To make crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool completely. Pulse pecans, sugar, nutmeg and salt in a food processor until nuts are finely chopped. Add butter and pulse to combine. Press crumbs in an even layer into a 9-inch springform pan. Refrigerate until firm.
2) To make mousse: Bring maple syrup to in a medium saucepan. Simmer over moderate heat until slightly reduced and a candy thermometer inserted in syrup registers 235 degrees F, about 8 minutes. Watch carefully to prevent it boiling over. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whisk, beat egg whites with cream of tartar and salt until stiff peaks form. Reduce speed to medium and drizzle hot syrup onto whites, beating until incorporated. Increase speed to high and beat meringue has cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes. In a separate large bowl, beat heavy cream with vanilla until soft peaks form. Fold meringue mixture into whipped cream until blended. Scrape mousse into crust and spread evenly . Freeze until firm, about 24 hours.
The mousse will not freeze hard like ice cream.
3) To make candied cranberries: Put cranberries in a large heatproof bowl or into top of a double broiler. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Pour syrup over cranberries and cover bowl or top of double boiler with plastic wrap. Set over a pan of simmering water and cook, undisturbed, over very low heat until syrup is rosy and cranberries are tender but not broken down, about 45 minutes. Remove bowl from saucepan and let cranberries cool completely. Refrigerate until berries are chilled.
4) To serve: Loosen sides of springform pan with a warm knife. Remove ring from pan. Cut cake into wedges and transfer to dessert plates. Spoon candied cranberries over top of each cake and serve. Yield: 12 servings.
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