I am so very excited to announce that I was the host for the April 2011 Daring Bakers Challenge. Not only is it a privilege to host such an event (a second time for me) but this is a very special challenge indeed for both myself and Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! (April Daring Cooks host) as we hosted a DUAL challenge: we challenged the Daring Cooks and Bakers to make EDIBLE CONTAINERS. It is all very exciting as it is the first time both monthly challenges cooperate.

In my native province of Quebec (Canada) many families, friends and co-workers organize group outings to our quintessential spring event: the sugar shack pilgrimage. Yes it is almost sacrilegious if one who lives in Quebec does not make their way at least once during March or April to a traditional “Cabane à Sucre”. This huge feast of eggs, ham, pea soup, pork rinds, beans, pancakes, bacon and pies – all drizzled in maple syrup – is enjoyed in the middle of the woods outside the big cities in a large dining hall. Once the meal is over everyone heads back outside to enjoy maple taffy served on a clean bed of snow.

So I wanted to share a bit of my maple syrupy home with you for this months’ Daring Bakers’ challenge. Now the dish I am offering up for preparation is not at all a traditional recipe but rather my own creative inspiration which includes some of the “Cabane à Sucre” elements. Since Lisa and Ivonne challenged me to include an edible container I decided to make a Maple Mousse served in a baked Bacon Cup. No worries bacon fearers, we have alternatives for you.

This challenge will really please those with both a sweet and salty tooth as the combination of bacon and maple syrup is flabbergastingly good. I played around with 3 different bacon cup sizes and each one was different when it came to the sweet/salty balance ratio. I have a strong sweet tooth and surprisingly my winner was the largest bacon cup because it held more mousse. Feel free to experiment with your presentation as well: add a meringue, add melted chocolate, nuts, etc, and drizzle more maple syrup on top of your creations. Have fun and I can’t wait to see what you will all come up with.

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/!

Recipe Source:
Bacon cups where inspired by not martha and 59kilos
Nut Crust were taught to me by a friend, no source, but posted at Cheap Ethnic Eatz
Maple mousse is adapted from Jaime Oliver is not my boyfriend
Vegan maple mousse was inspired by this recipe at Suite 101
Meringue, finally, was adapted from Woman and Home

• Putting aluminum foil on the muffin pan heat-proof bowls is essential or they will be stuck to the form. Be gentle when removing the aluminum foil from bacon cups.
• Bacon shrinks a lot so make sure weave is tight on the form. 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.
• For the nut bowls, use about 1 cup of whole nuts to get 3/4 cups of crushed.
• In the maple mousse recipe, after the gelatine has bloomed (softened) in the cold whipping cream, the gelatine MUST be heated to melt completely…contrary to popular belief. Follow the directions as described and never let gelatine boil or it will become stringy and unusable.
• If you make the meringues let them cool in the oven once they are baked… just don’t forget to turn off the oven when they are done. This cooling process will help then dry out nicely and be crispier.
• the taste of maple syrup cannot be substituted but yes there are substitutes for the recipes if really obliged. At least you can do the challenge with it. 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 but totally different taste
– 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed, 1 cup boiling water, 1 teaspoon butter, 1 teaspoon maple extract or vanilla extract. Place granulated sugar in a heavy skillet. Heat until the sugar melts and turns brown. Meanwhile, place brown sugar into a heavy saucepan. Pour water 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 and maple or vanilla extract. Yield: about 1 cup

Mandatory Items: There are 2 mandatory components to this challenge. You must make one of the 2 maple mousse recipes listed below and you must make an edible container in which to place your mousse for presentation.

Variations allowed: If you have health issues and restrictions of course adapt as necessary. There is a regular maple mousse recipe and a totally vegan one. For the edible container you can let your imagination run wild, the recipes I have included are suggestions. I have listed a couple of other ideas in the Additional Information section. The meringue recipe is optional.

Preparation time:
Bacon cups: preparation 15 minutes, bake 25-40 minutes depending on cup size, cooling 1 hour.
Nut Crust: preparation 30 minutes, baking about 15 minutes, cooling 1 hour.
Maple mousse: preparation 15 minutes, cooling 1 hour, refrigeration 1 hour.
Vegan maple mousse: preparation 10 minutes, refrigeration 1hour.
Meringue Time preparation 15 minutes, baking 45 minutes, cooling 2-3 hours.

Equipment required:
• muffin pan or 6 small ½ cup capacity heat-proof bowls
• heat proof shot glasses for smaller bacon cups
• aluminum foil
• scissors
• knife
• toothpicks
• baking tray
• food processor or zip-lock bag and a rolling pin
• various sizes of mixing bowls
• wooden mixing spoon
• rubber spatulas
• whisk
• small pan
• blender or hand mixer
• baking parchment or silicone mat
• piping bag or large zip-lock bag

Bacon Cups:

• 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.

Nut Bowls:

• 1 1/2 cups crushed nuts of your choice such as almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts
• 1 egg, beaten, at room temperature
• 2 tbsp sugar
• 1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces

1. Use a food processor or a zip-lock back with a rolling pin to crush your nuts if whole, use about 1 cup of whole nuts to get 3/4 cups crushed. You want it somewhat coarse.
2. In a bowl mix the nuts with the beaten egg and the sugar.
3. Take 6 small ½ cup capacity Pyrex cups or a similar container and line the inside with aluminum foil. Spread ¼ cup of the mixture in the bowl, all the way up to the sides making sure you have a thin and even clean layer all around.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F/175 degrees C. until the nuts are golden and fragrant (about 15 minutes). Let cool completely before unmolding.
5. Melt chocolate (either in the microwave or over a double boiler). Dip the rims of the cooled nut bowls in the chocolate. Place in the freezer for at least 15 minutes or until the chocolate has hardened and is set.

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
• 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.

Vegan Maple Mousse:

• 1 package (12 oz.) soft silken tofu
• ¾ cup (14 fluid oz.) pure maple syrup
• 2 tsp agar-agar

1. Let tofu come to room temperature. Using a food processor, blender, or hand mixer, blend tofu until just smooth.
2. Sprinkle agar-agar on the maple syrup and let it rest for 10 minutes. Heat maple syrup on the stove to a boil and then let it simmer 5 minutes until the agar-agar has dissolved.
3. In a food processor, blender, or a large bowl, blend the tofu with the maple syrup until creamy.
4. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Remove from the fridge and divide among your edible containers.

Meringue (optional):

• 3 large egg whites at room temperature
• ¾ cup (165 g./5.5 oz) sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F/150 degrees C.
2. Put the egg whites in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer beat for a few minutes until the whites become stiff. Now add the sugar, a little at a time, whisking until the mixture is stiff and glossy. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down and the mixture won’t fall out.
3. Place baking parchment on to a clean baking sheet. Using a spoon or a piping bag, dollop the meringue into circles that fit inside the rim of your edible cups. (See mine, I wanted height but they fell a bit…which is OK…freeform art)
4. Put the tray in the oven, then immediately turn the oven down to 250 degrees F/130 degrees C. and bake for 45 minutes.
5. Turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool in the oven for a few hours.
6. Place meringues as decoration on your maple mousse which has already be spooned into your edible containers.

Have fun and be creative when making your individual cups. Add chocolate here, place a meringue there, dip or drizzle chocolate or extra maple syrup. You are limited only by your imagination!

Additional Information:
You can try microwaving your bacon, not tested.
For vegetarians and vegans you could try this Tofu Bacon recipe and make a bowl with it, not tested.
Tuile Bowls would be a great other edible container option.

About Maple Syrup:
Here is a Food Talk article I wrote about the Quebec Sugar Shack season.
I found a great video on Making Maple Syrup on You Tube


*Note: The Daring Kitchen and its members in no way suggest we are medical professionals and therefore are NOT responsible for any error in reporting of gluten-free ingredients. If you have issues with digesting gluten, then it is YOUR responsibility to research the ingredient before using it. If you have allergies, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are lactose intolerant, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are vegetarian or vegan, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. Please consult your physician with any questions before using a product you are not familiar with. Thank you! 🙂