Muscovado sugar is one of those odd ingredients that professional pastry chefs have ready access to, but is seldom within the reach of us common folk. Or if it is, it's exorbitantly priced. So what is this "oh so special" sugar? Well, in essence it's really nothing more than a form of brown sugar; it even comes in light and dark varieties. But looks can be deceiving. Muscovado is a little more grainy than "normal" brown sugar. It is also minimally processed so it retains more moisture and more trace minerals along with the natural molasses. All these factors mean that it tastes slightly different from your "run of the mill" brown sugar which is refined white sugar with molasses added back in in varying amounts.
The refining process for Muscovado is different too. Once the juice has been wrested from the cane by pressing, the slurry is cooked slightly, then impurities are removed in a strange process that utilizes Coconut milk and Lime juice... evidently these react with the impurities and form a foam that can be skimmed off, leaving the rich delicious cane elixir behind. (See what I mean about he sugar being kind of sexy?)
So in honor of this sexified sugar product from Barbados, I decided on an equally sexy dessert that I saw Laura Calder make on her show, French Food at Home. I have mentioned Laura Calder's show before. French Cooking at Home (Food Network Canada) is currently shown on the Cooking Channel. In her recipe for Blackberry Millefeuille she makes use of Maple sugar. Sadly, I live on the West Coast and there are no Sugar Maples here. I mean, I know one place that carries it on a seasonal basis, but I can't afford it. It's like Beluga Caviar, nice to dream about having, but more than likely will never happen. OK, I did have some once, (Maple sugar, not Beluga) but only through a similar pricing fluke like my Muscovado "find". Alas it has been gone for years now.
SO, armed with Muscovado as a substitute as well as some homemade Crème Fraîche, I embarked upon a super sexy dessert. Oh, and in case you were wondering about the Browned Butter, I thought it's inherent nuttiness would pair well with the hazelnuts.
Blackberry Millefeuille with Maple Crème Fraîche
Adapted from Laura Calder's French Food at Home
4 sheets Filo pastry (or 2, cut in half, depending on the size of your sheets)
3 TB Beurre Noisette (browned butter)
4 tsp light Muscovado Sugar
3 TB finely chopped Blanched Hazelnuts
1 1/4 cups Crème Fraîche
Maple syrup, just enough to lightly sweeten (preferably Grade B, but Grade A is fine)
1 lb Blackberries
Beurre Noisette and allow it to cool slightly.
Crème Fraîche into a medium bowl. (store bought or homemade, your choice)