Cherry Mousse Millefeuille
Spectacular and delicious, these millefeuilles are everything you want in a dessert. The spiced cherry compote becomes a blush pink mousse and a deep red sauce. The mousse is stacked with four tuiles and topped with a caramel-dipped cherry. But such a garnish -- the caramel is drawn into a long long tail which stands up over the dessert. This is a dish with wow power.
- Caramel Cherries
- Sugar - 2 cups
- Cherries - 6 large, stems on
- All-Purpose Flour - 1/2 cup, sifted
- Egg White - 1
- Butter - 2 tablespoons, melted
- Sugar - 1/4 cup
- Powdered Cinnamon - pinch
- Pinch of salt
- Cherry Mousse
- Fresh cherries - 1-1/4 pounds, pitted
- Sugar - 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon
- Cloves - 10
- Zest of 1 lemon, cut in large strips
- Cinnamon Stick - 1
- Vanilla bean - 1, split
- Mascarpone Cheese - 1 cup
- Egg Whites - 2, beaten to soft peaks
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 3/4 cup
- Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
- Ground cinnamon for dusting
- Mint sprig - 4
To make the caramel cherries: These lovely decorations are similar to caramel apples, only you will allow the caramel to create long tails on the cherries. Arrange a rack system for hanging the cherries; a very simple system is to stretch a string or a long strip of masking tape between the cabinets over the kitchen sink. Hang the string or tape up high; the caramel tails of the cherries need space. Fasten it firmly, as the cherries will be heavy. Have at least six short pieces of masking tape ready.
Put the sugar in a heavy saucepan and place over low heat. Let the sugar melt, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, then increase the heat to medium. Cook without stirring until the sugar reaches 325 F (light caramel, just beyond the hard-crack stage); brush away any crystals which form on the sides of the pan with a damp brush. Remove the pan from the stove and place it in the kitchen sink.
Wrap a piece of masking tape around the stem of a cherry, leaving a 3-inch strip of tape free. Holding the tape, dip the cherry completely into the caramel mixture right up to the bottom of the stem, lift, hold for 5 seconds, and dip again. Slowly raise the cherry out of the mixture, letting the caramel create a long tail. Tape the cherry stem to the string or masking tape, letting the cherry “tail” hang down. Repeat. You will only use 4 cherries; make 6 to allow for breakage. When the caramel on the cherries and “tails” has completely set, gently remove the tape from the cherry stems and lay the caramel-covered cherries and their tails on waxed paper or foil in a cool, dry place.
To make the tuiles: Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Spread into thin 2-1/2-inch-diameter circles on the paper with the back of a spoon; you will need 16 tuiles. Make in batches if necessary. Bake 5 minutes, until the edges begin to color. Remove from the oven and let cool enough to handle. Lift with a thin spatula and cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
To prepare the mousse: Put the cherries, sugar, cloves, lemon zest, and cinnamon stick in a deep saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixture, then drop in the pods. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and cook 20 minutes, until the cherries have softened but still hold their shape. Remove from heat; let cool. Pick out the vanilla bean pods, cinnamon stick, and cloves.
Whisk the mascarpone and sugar until smooth. Fold in 1 cup of the cherry sauce mixture, then fold in a large spoonful of the beaten egg whites into the mixture. When it is completely combined, fold in the remaining egg whites, then fold in a large spoonful of whipped cream. Completely combine the mixture, then fold in the remaining whipped cream; keep the mousse as light as possible. Put the mousse in a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip. At any point in this process, add a little more cherry mixture or juice if the mousse becomes too pale in color.
To assemble: Dust the chilled serving plates with confectioner’s sugar and a little ground cinnamon. Pipe a dot of mousse in the center of each plate. Anchor a tuile in the mousse on one plate. Pipe a circle of small dots on the tuile with the mousse and put a final dot in the center, then top with another tuile. Build 3 layers. Top with a tuile, and put a small twist of mousse on top. Repeat with all plates. Divide the remaining cherry sauce among the plates, spooning it around the base of the millefeuilles. Scatter a few mint leaves around each plate and stand 2 on top each millefeuille. Snap the stem of each long-tailed caramel cherry and place one, tail-up, on top of each dessert. Wow!