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Maple Cardamon Mousse And Strawberry Tartelettes

I realised the other day that I have been turning the oven on late in the evening lately. The heat is not conducive to "wanting" to bake, nor is the rain that makes me crave soft and cold flavors. Airy mousses and creamy puddings, clouds of meringue and pools of creme anglaise…ice creams, let’s not forget ice creams, one of my weaknesses. So when Old Chef asked me if I could come up with a couple of items for a private dinner for a client on Thursday, I cringed…Well, just a little, because I like him, I like the clients and let’s face it, you don’t need to twist my arm when it comes to baking! One of the requests they had was to have berries….lots of berries….beside a cold berry soup that I will tell you more about next week, I thought I would combine my ongoing love affair for mousses with fresh strawberries in individual tartlets.

Back in May, I told you about our friend M. who had just been diagnosed with cancer. She underwent surgery a couple of weeks ago and is now back home, tired but already restless. She is not out of the danger zone yet, but there is progress. She called me yesterday all upset because she was tired of roaming around the house, tired of resting and tired of being told to sit down when she wanted to go for a walk. "Want to slice strawberries for me then?" I asked her. "Pick me up in 20 minutes!" was her response. I knew that an afternoon of baking and chatting would cheer her spirits up, not to mention that I am starting to get worried about this trend I developed to talk to the custard while I stir it!!

I set her up a stool by the counter and while she hulled and sliced the berries, I prepared the tart dough. When I turn the oven on, she gave me that look of "oh no! It’s already hot and humid…please!". I promised her it would not take more than 20 minutes to bake them and then we can cool down again. I did not mention that I would have to turn it on for another couple of hours after her departure because she would have given me that "crazy girl!" look and checked my pulse! It’s not only that it is hot outside, it also ungodly humid so opening up the windows is out of the question. She wondered if I had burnt a fuse when I said, 20 minutes…but that’s it really. Once the shells are baked, they are filled with a delicious mousse and topped with sliced strawberries.

We made enough for eight tartelettes as test products since I’ll have to make twice that amount on Thursday so they would be fresh, while chatting about her grand kids, the operation, the road ahead, the journey already accomplished. We each kept a couple and I went next door to my favorite neighbors to drop the remaining 4 (see Dad, I can count!), and then I got a big surprise from C’s eight year-old twins. Remember they got a puppy a couple of weeks ago, Sully? Well, their attention span has already moved on to faster and bigger things so they decided that since I love the puppy and he seems to like me back, I should be his new "mom". So, tonight we brought the newly renamed Bailey home where a brand new crate and a new friend awaited him. I’d say four tartelettes for a puppy is a pretty good deal!

The idea of the mousse came when I was flipping through "The Sweet Life" by Kate Zuckerman, remembering how rich, creamy and delicate her caramel mousse was last time I made it. Her Maple and Star Anise is along the same process and although I love maple syrup, I am not a big star anise fan…so in went one of my favorites, cardamom. I also halved the recipe and used hand held beaters as such a small quantity of mousse is easy to ruin in a deep stand mixer bowl. I was so tempted to make the full batch though….it is so good that I could literally sit by myself and the bowl and be content, my thighs not that much however. You’re warned! The small amount of mousse in each tart is perfect to offer a smooth and spiced contrast to the strawberries without being too sweet or overly rich.

Maple Cardamom Mousse and Strawberry Tartelettes:

Makes 6-8 depending on your tart shells, or on 10 inch round tart

For the tart shells:
1 stick butter, cut in small pieces
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk

In a food processor, combine the flour and butter and pulse until you get a mixture that has the texture of cornmeal. Add the egg yolk and pulse until the mixture comes together in a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate while you prepare the filling. Roll between sheets of plastic wrap and cut out circles larger than your tart shells, fit the dough into the molds and cut out the excess. Prick with a fork, cover with a sheet of parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes, or until baked through.

For the mousse:
3 egg yolks
1/2 tablespoon powdered gelatin
1/2 cup grade B maple syrup
4 crushed cardamom pods
1 cup heavy cream

Whisk the egg yolks to break them up in a deep large bowl with hand held beaters (my KA has a deeper bowl than the standard model so I don’t know if that would work in a smaller capacity bowl).
Sprinkle the gelatin over 2 Tb of cold water in a small cup and let it bloom.
In a heavy saucepan, combine the maple syrup and cardamom. Bring the syrup to a boil over medium-high heat and let it reach 240 degrees F. Remove the pan from the stove and strain the cardamom seeds carefully into a cup with a spout (easier to pour) .
Dissolve the gelatin in the microwave for 10 seconds, or in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
While still whipping the yolks, slowly pour in the hot maple syrup, being careful to temper them and not cook them. Pour the gelatin over the egg/syrup, whip together until cooled to room temperature and has tripled in volume
In another bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks or if you are using a stand mixer, pour the mousse into a large bowl and clean the mixer bowl thoroughly, or use another mixer bowl if you have one. Gently fold the whipped cream into the mousse trying to deflate the whole thing as little as possible.
Divide about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup (depending on how deep your tart shells are) of the mousse among the tart shells and let set in the fridge.

To finish the tarts, slice about 2 pints of strawberries and arrange on top of the mousse filled tarts. Serve chilled but not cold.

And because yummy things are better shared among friends, I am sending these to Susan from Food Blogga who is hosting Sugar High Friday Berries this month, event created by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess.

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Christy July 16, 2008 um 8:21 am

Congratulations on the addition of a new family member! I knew you and Bailey got along right from the beginning, so this is great news! The strawberries are so beautifully sliced and arranged they remind me more of a flower than a decoration that goes on top of a tart. Marvelous!!

Suzana July 16, 2008 um 8:47 am

Cardamom is currently my favourite spice! I bet it matches awesomely with maple syrup – I’ll have to try that mousse. And with strawberries? Mmmmm!

Bailey is really a cutie – congrats!

Rosa's Yummy Yums July 16, 2008 um 8:48 am

An original combination of flavors! What a wonderful recipe! Your tartelettes look delicious!



Anonymous July 16, 2008 um 9:02 am

si elles sont aussi bonnes que belles, ces tartelettes doivent รชtre dรฉlicieuses ! bravo ๐Ÿ™‚

KJ July 16, 2008 um 10:20 am

They are almost too pretty to eat. Almost being the right word. They would not last too long in my company!!

Peter M July 16, 2008 um 10:37 am

You’re very sweet and you’re a good friend to invite her over and cheer her up. The tarts were obviously a bonus to your friendship.

Cannelle Et Vanille July 16, 2008 um 11:17 am

what a great way to get her out of the house and have company. Seriously, those are the best moments, when you can sit down with friends around the kitchen, especially if they have just gone under the knife and life presents itself as somewhat fragile. And yes, I’m with you on the heat… no ovens here either!!!

MyKitchenInHalfCups July 16, 2008 um 11:43 am

I do worry about you talking to the mousse and it’s consequences on those thighs! Oh my yes I do.
So, perhaps you could reserve one from Thursday for me . . . how I wish I could.

Anonymous July 16, 2008 um 11:49 am

I love Kate Zuckerman’s recipes, and your little mousse tartelettes looks just perfect. And congrats on the new family member!

PheMom July 16, 2008 um 12:18 pm

What a lucky puppy – congrats! Those little tarts look absolutely incredible!

Mary July 16, 2008 um 12:24 pm

Yay! Bailey is coming to live with you! He’s so cute I wish I had one for myself.
And your tarts are really beautiful!

Esti July 16, 2008 um 12:41 pm

Thanks for commenting in my blog today. I was aware of yours via wonderful aran, but since I don’t know how to cook I’m always too embarrassed to coment or too impressed by your works. However, such stories as that of your friend make me smile, a big smile… I’ll be back for sure, to treat my eyes with your pictures and to read your stories.

Warda July 16, 2008 um 12:51 pm

– M is lucky to have such a supportive friend. Wish her best of luck from me!
You talk to your custards while stirring? Now that’s…very common ๐Ÿ˜‰

I forgot to congratulate you about your book deal. Very exciting news, my sweet Helene! And very well deserved.

aforkfulofspaghetti July 16, 2008 um 12:52 pm

Wow! Look at the working of the sliced strawberries… Stunning stuff!

Anonymous July 16, 2008 um 1:10 pm

Your picture of Bailey totally distracted me from the tarts! I’m a big dog lover, and we are considering getting a third pup. And the tart looks and sounds delicious, by the way!

LizNoVeggieGirl July 16, 2008 um 1:24 pm

This post is filled with so many great things – good news about your friend M., the addition of Bailey to your family, and the inspiration behind making these Maple Cardamom Mousse & Strawberry Tartelettes. Love it all!! :0)

Veron July 16, 2008 um 2:19 pm

I keep on buying strawberries intending to make a strawberry dessert but we always end up eating them. How exciting you have a new puppy…hugs to bailey. And beautiful tartlets by the way.

Mumsy July 16, 2008 um 2:31 pm

Oh, I love puppies! So glad you got one!

Helen….you keep outdoing yourself. I only wish I lived next door. I would come slice strawberries or do any other kitchen task you needed done–just for a bit of one of your creations.

Clumbsy Cookie July 16, 2008 um 2:37 pm

I love cardamom and strawberries together, your tartelettes look adorable.
Congratulations on the new puppy, are you gonna bake puppy treats now?
It’s good to have company while baking, I also tend to talk to custards. But you know that’s not really bad, when they start anwering to you that’s when you’ve got a problem!

Nina Timm July 16, 2008 um 2:44 pm

A great job as always. These tarts are so stunning!

Vera July 16, 2008 um 3:10 pm

Congratulations with a new family member! He is adorable, I must say!
The tarts are wonderful! I will try this recipe for sure, cardamom is among my favorite spices.

That Girl July 16, 2008 um 4:47 pm

Congratulations on the new addition – enjoy the puppy breath while it lasts!

Anonymous July 16, 2008 um 4:53 pm

Loved this post, i could see you in the kitchen chatting away. Congrats on the new puppy(have do admit i knew that was coming!)

and finally the tarts looks beautiful-perfect!

Susan from Food Blogga July 16, 2008 um 6:24 pm

Oh, Helen, what a lovely post. Not only did you create a superb SHF entry, but you cheered up your friend, which is priceless. Many, many thanks. Susan

Deborah July 16, 2008 um 6:27 pm

Those are absolutely gorgeous – and yay for new puppies!!

Lori July 16, 2008 um 6:28 pm

Is that a dahlia or strawberries looking like a dahlia. So pretty and tempting. I wish you lived next door to me. You sound like the bestest friend!

Ginny July 16, 2008 um 6:34 pm

Beautiful! great flavor combination!

Lisa July 16, 2008 um 6:35 pm

Oh wow – not sure which I am more in love with – the puppy or the tarts! Beautiful!

Anonymous July 16, 2008 um 6:41 pm

Beautiful post and beautiful tarts!

Anonymous July 16, 2008 um 8:58 pm

Four tartelettes for one puppy. I bet my kids would offer more than that ;-). But then you have to count clean-up and restless nights and I would say – pretty even ;-).

Gorgeous tarts. I am glad it is was not humid here the last few days, but things are warming up. I am reading about ice cream tarts…

Judy July 16, 2008 um 9:27 pm

Great post! But how could you go wrong with puppies, friends, strawberries, and maple syrup. That mousse sounds divine. I wish I had one of those tarts in front of me right now. Lovely! (And, for once, I’m not poster 10,001.)

del July 16, 2008 um 9:48 pm

Oh, those are two adorable dogs! I think the thing I miss most since I left Sweden is my parents' dog (don’t tell my family though). I’m a dog lover, and my favourite quote from my new home is this one:

"Man kann ohne Hund leben,
aber es lohnt sich nicht"
–Heinz Rรผhmann

For the non-German-speaking crowd, it translates roughly into "You can live without a dog, but it’s no use". Too true.

Leslie July 16, 2008 um 10:02 pm

Stunning! I need to get some tart pans!

Anonymous July 16, 2008 um 10:10 pm

Puppy!? New Puppy!? Awwwww… too cute! And nothing is better than chatting and baking in the kitchen with friends. These tarts are lovely!

Bonbon Oiseau July 16, 2008 um 10:26 pm

I’m sure this lifted your friend’s spirits—you are such an excellent friend. these tarts look beautiful and now i’m intrigued to order "the sweet life"!

hmmm maple syrup & cardomom sound perfect together! please shoot me an email if you want–i want to send you the most delicious maple syrup in the universe–you will not believe it!
[email protected]

Helene July 16, 2008 um 11:01 pm

Del: I love that quote! So true!

Jenny July 17, 2008 um 12:26 am

How beautiful!
Congrats on the new puppy.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) July 17, 2008 um 12:30 am

I’m very into cardamom and berries this summer, but I’ve not attempted anything fancy — just berries with cardamom cream, that sort of simple thing. As always, your desserts make me drool…

Cakespy July 17, 2008 um 12:41 am

These tarts are simply stunning. Not only does the flavor sound like a perfect–yet slightly unique–combination, but your presentation looks like a summer dahlia. Gorgeous!

Anonymous July 17, 2008 um 1:01 am

mmmm. this looks and sounds luscious!

Aimรฉe July 17, 2008 um 1:33 am

It’s always nice to have a sous chef around be they an old friend or a pesky 2 year-old. Wait- that’s what I have! Wish he could slice berries that well….

LyB July 17, 2008 um 2:15 am

Every thin slice of strawberry, so perfectly displayed on each beautiful tartelette, they are gorgeous! I agree with everyone who said they’d like to live next door to you; maybe we should start a food blogging commune or something. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anonymous July 17, 2008 um 2:58 am

I love the thin slices of strawberries – it makes the whole tart seem so delicate.

Elle July 17, 2008 um 3:32 am

Baking with friends is a true delight (did some today myself) and sharing baked goods is a treat, too. Getting a puppy for 4 magnificent strawberry tartlettes…priceless!

Rachelle S July 17, 2008 um 3:41 am

That 1st photo had me. The thinkly sliced strawberries are just beautiful layed there in the tart. Mmm

Mama Mia July 17, 2008 um 3:48 am

what beautiful tarts! Cooking and baking with friends is so much fun!

Peabody July 17, 2008 um 3:55 am

Yay for puppies. They are so cute…which helps for you not to kill them when the wreck things. ๐Ÿ™‚
Loving the berries, loving the tarts.

Anonymous July 17, 2008 um 4:17 am

Simply stunning photography. I love your creative use of fruit and spice, a very enjoyable read.

jasmine July 17, 2008 um 4:28 am

It’s amazing how something as simple as slicing strawberries can perk someone up. So glad you were able to do that.

I was actually admiring the slices before I read the post.

Very nicely done ๐Ÿ™‚


Parisbreakfasts July 17, 2008 um 4:49 am

If you should just happen to go on vacance and need a dog sitter…
Id' love to have a dog again as well as some mousse tartes…

cindy* July 17, 2008 um 5:26 am

absolutely beautiful!

Fifi Flowers July 17, 2008 um 5:26 am

Those look positively DELICIOUS! I am giving you an AWARD… it is displayed on my blog… come see!
PS… you may keep the award… you are under no obligation to take any further steps… just know that I award your blog!

Y July 17, 2008 um 5:41 am

Those strawberries look amazing. So vibrant, and the tartlets look like they were made with such love too, with the help of your friend! Congrats on being a new mummy ๐Ÿ˜€ Hope you’ll share some pictures of the pup soon!

Sunshinemom July 17, 2008 um 6:14 am

Helen – I just adore the way you dress up your tarts! I am sure your girl must have been the best doll as a kid – I can feel your enjoyment and am desperately trying to be more patient and kind with my desserts….inspired by yours:)

Mrs Ergรผl July 17, 2008 um 7:54 am

It’s a good idea to use mousse instead of the usual custard as I never seem to get them at the right consistency! Lovely tarts!

Manggy July 17, 2008 um 9:48 am

Haha!!! Talking to custard?! I may love food but I don’t think I’ve ever reached such depths! ๐Ÿ™‚ Just kidding… It’s more comforting to think it’s the product of so much passion for what you do ๐Ÿ™‚ You’re such a good friend, too.

I didn’t know that maple and cardamom could live harmoniously! That is one intriguingly beautiful tartelette!

Anonymous July 17, 2008 um 9:48 am

I love how you decorated the tarts, they look like flowers.

Anonymous July 17, 2008 um 11:55 am

I am not surprised that you ended up with Bailey! Stirring custard and cutting strawberries is good for the soul. Cardamom is my new favorite spice and who can resist a Strawberry Tart. We are on for an afternoon of play, thanks for the invite.

Jen Yu July 17, 2008 um 12:29 pm

SCREAM!!!!! I thought you were joking when you told me that the pup would probably end up at your house ๐Ÿ™‚ And now you have that adorable little puppeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Promise me some puppy porn, Helen. PROMISE ME! Ooooh, I want one so badly… And thanks for the lovely recipe. My ILs are coming into town and I’m brainstorming for ideas – you always help me out in that dept. too ๐Ÿ™‚ xxoo (puppppppeeeeeeeee!!!!)

April July 17, 2008 um 12:50 pm

Beautiful looking tarts!

Camille July 17, 2008 um 5:36 pm

Your friend is lucky to have you. It is so relaxing to be in the kitchen with a friend. Best of times if you ask me.

I’m not sure who got the better deal, you with an adorable puppy or the recepients of those delicious looking tartlettes. Wow, they look good!

Although…puppies, they are priceless!

Evas House July 17, 2008 um 5:40 pm

hi!thank you very much for your comment in my blog!It’s my lucky week since I have found wonderful cooking blogs. Je vais faire un tour pour le blog!Merci encore,je reviendrai!;)

Jaxon July 17, 2008 um 8:46 pm

That little puppy looks like he’ll make very large lad when grown. Enjoy!

Anonymous July 17, 2008 um 9:33 pm

congrats in the puppy. the tarts are stunning! the summer dessert.

monica July 17, 2008 um 10:50 pm

i’ve been meaning to say CONGRATULATIONS helen!!! but i don’t have the internet and apparently you can’t comment using your blackberry?? i am so impressed and happy for you. i know you’ll do a fantastic job with the book and i can’t wait to read all about your stories ๐Ÿ™‚ sorry for being MIA but i do keep up and miss speaking with you!

Natalie Que July 18, 2008 um 1:04 am

Those pictures are GORGEOUS!

Thanks so much for your tips and advice on my blog, you are truly so great to not forget where you came from and still appreciate comments from little guys.

If you have a minute, I have made some great changes to Hot Garlic, I’d love to know what you think now.


Anonymous July 18, 2008 um 1:33 am

What a lovely recipe. Time in the kitchen is always ten times better with a good friend and conversation! Glad you could cheer her up.

test it comm July 18, 2008 um 1:57 am

Those strawberry tartelettes look great! Nice presentation! I like the sound of the maple and cardamom combo.

Cookie baker Lynn July 18, 2008 um 2:22 am

Congratulations on the trade. I think you both got a good deal. The tartelettes are beautiful. I love the spray of strawberry slices!

Helene July 18, 2008 um 4:04 am

JenYu: I just about snorted my tea ๐Ÿ™‚

Alexa July 18, 2008 um 4:19 am

Merci pour ta visite a mon blog… I’ll have to try that recipe… Cardemon mousse with strawberries sounds so exotic and refreshing.

There is nothing more soothing and therapeutic than being put to good use in the kitchen, while chatting away with a good friend. I wish M. a speedy recovery.

A bientot!


Patricia Scarpin July 18, 2008 um 1:10 pm

Having friends around is just the best, isn’t it? You are such an adorable and generous person, everyone loves being around you, sweetie! I know I would. ๐Ÿ˜‰

These tartelettes are delicate and pretty, like everything you make.

Katie July 18, 2008 um 4:08 pm

The way your have arranged the slices of strawberries on tart of the tart is amazing – it looks so elegant, almost like a rose.

Evas House July 18, 2008 um 7:41 pm

I have to try these with the straweberries we picked up with my children! Merci encore pour les gentils messages!;)

Cakelaw July 19, 2008 um 12:17 am

Beautiful prsentation and an unusual flavour combination.

My Sweet & Saucy July 19, 2008 um 5:46 am

Your fan of strawberries look perfect!

lululu July 19, 2008 um 2:42 pm

wow…..this cake is just too beautiful to eat!

Jaime July 19, 2008 um 7:01 pm

i still haven’t tried cardamom yet and wonder what it tastes like? even w/the last DB challenge, i did not go and buy some… i love how you arranged the strawberries on the tart!

Anonymous July 20, 2008 um 5:59 am

I always thought cardamon was the sexiest of spices. Now could a tartelette with a cardamon mousse, strawberries and assembled by you be the sexiest dessert ever.

Hmm. Food for thought. ๐Ÿ™‚

Snooky doodle July 20, 2008 um 7:13 am

These look really nice and simple. I LL try them for sure. Thanks for the nice site. I really look forward to the new posts.

Anonymous July 21, 2008 um 8:06 pm

Your presentation is simply stunning.

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