Sunday, July 10, 2011

Back in Black - Blackberry Millefeuille with Maple Crème Fraîche

Muscovado....  The word sounds like a breed of duck, but it's really much more sexy than that.  (though I must admit that a Muscovy duck dinner IS pretty sexy)  Especially when one finds said sexy sugar for a miniscule amount of cash.  Yes, I found "my find" the other day at Whole Foods (or should I say Whole Paycheck?) on sale for a paltry sum that seriously had me doing a double take in the isle before grabbing my prize and heading with great haste for the check out before someone decided it was mis-marked, thus bursting my excitement bubble and sending me careening down a depression spiral that could only result in my utter devastation as I sat, cold and alone in my muscovado-lessness...  a hem..  Yeah.. OK, moving on....  ;)

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

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C and grab 2 baking sheets and two pieces of parchment paper.

Chop the Hazelnuts finely.....

And make some Beurre Noisette and allow it to cool slightly.

Lay 1 sheet of filo on your work surface and brush gently with Beurre Noisette.

Sprinkle with some of the Muscovado sugar.

Top that with a scattering of chopped Hazelnuts.

Place the second filo sheet over the nuts and repeat (Butter, Muscovado, Nuts, Filo) until you have 4 layers of filo.

Grab a SHARP knife or pizza cutter, slice the sheet into 12 rectangles.(about 2 inch by 4 1/5 inch)

Arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet,

cover with another layer of parchment,

Nest an additional baking sheet over that (this will keep the filo flat)

Bake until golden and crisp, about 7 - 10 minutes.

Move to a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes.

Spoon the Crème Fraîche into a medium bowl. (store bought or homemade, your choice)

Whip the Crème Fraîche with 1-2 tsp Grade B Maple Syrup until soft peaks begin to form.

On a dessert plate, place 1 rectangle of filo.

Spoon a small amount of Mapled Crème Fraîche over.

Nestle the Blackberries into the Crème Fraîche.

Spoon a small amount of Crème Fraîche over the berries (this will make the top piece of filo stay in place).

Place another rectangle on top of the Crème Fraîche and press gently to adhere.

Serve within 1 hour of assembly, as the filo will begin to absorb moisture from the Crème Fraîche and become soggy.


1 comment:

Patti T. said...

What a glorious dessert. I have been buying something similar at a local pastry shop, I have to say yours looks and sounds better. Of course!