Updated dish from The Hind's Head
Another dessert coming up from the great book Historic Heston. The recipes from this book so far have been flawless and easily adaptable if you don't fancy going the whole nine yards to make the dish in its exact form.
You can find Wassailing served in The Hinds Head, Bray currently. It's a dish made of all things-apple. In a similar style to the meat fruit served at Dinner by Heston, an apple mousse shaped into a half-moon is dipped into an apple gel and served on top of caramelised apple brioche and apple soup...mmmm.
Looking over the recipe there's initially some very scary quantities....who on earth has 42g of gelatine knocking about in their cupboards? Well done to you if you do! Without wanting to look a complete wierdo walking out of the supermarket clutching their entire stock of gelatine sheets I settled for halving the quantities given that the recipe serves 9 portions.
Mead and Apple Granules
This is a recipe that I spread over two days, you could perhaps get away with doing this in a day but bear in mind the mousses need time to de-frost once covered in gel. I'd managed to get hold of English Mead at a continental market in Leicester. This stuff was laced with honey and is a little too easy to drink! Delicious stuff. I began by adding the Mead into a mixture of apple juice, citric acid (in the absence of malic) and 7g gelatine together in a pan, allowing the gelatine to soften before heating to dissolve.
Next job was to mix spray dried apple granules and calvados in a pan. I wouldn't like to be bringing the granules through customs as the packages look suspiciously like Afghanistan's most famous export...however once I had confirmed that they were apple granules and not a package of heroin meant for somebody else they went in with the Calvados to form a smooth paste. Whipped egg whites then are liaised with the apple mix and finally the gelatine mix. Whipped cream then folded in creates a mousse. I placed the mixture into dome shaped moulds made from silicone into the freezer to harden.
Possibly the hardest part of the recipe comes next in the form of a gel. Why so hard you may ask? Well there's a hell of a lot of temperature points that are critical to the success of the centrepiece. Much like the first gel mix it's a mixture of Mead, Calvados, apple juice, spray dried apple, honey, bay leaves, cloves, citric acid, yeast, rosemary and granny smith apple peelings. Heated together and dissolving the remaining 7g of gelatine it's time to begin the waiting game with thermometer in hand cooling the bowl down waiting for the magic 20C to appear.
While that cooled I got on with the apple colouring, the stage that's going to turn your 80's-sofa-brown coloured apple gel to a bright green coating. Japanese matcha tea and milk are whisked together before adding green colouring. Once your gel reaches 20C add in the green mixture and be amazed by the realisation that your mousses might just end up resembling apples.
Gel coming to temperature
Dashing to the freezer once 15.5C is reached on the thermometer, this is when things get exciting. Turning out the mousses wasn't too tricky and with the aid of a cocktail stick I dipped the mousse halves in the gel....
What happens next defies belief. The gel set firm around the mousse half and that's not even the best bit....it looked like an actual apple! That Heston is a genius and should receive a knighthood for this. Delicately I lifted the apple half onto cling film and left in the fridge overnight to defrost. I had tried to spray the apples with a combination of Calvados and red food colouring but sadly my spraying device was more suited to hand lotion than surface spraying so I abandoned the idea.
Set apple gel - incredible!
Apple soup anyone? This is what will combine the mousse and apple brioche on the final plate. Heston recommends a 16 hour cook-a-thon in the sous-vide of chopped braeburn apples, fructose and apple juice. With time against me I opted for the same quantities just in a pan with the lid on...the idea being to extract the juices from the apple and make a syrup for the base of the soup. After around an hour on a low heat my syrup was ready. Straining the liquid and cooling before adding Calvados and white wine vinegar the soup was complete and tasting incredible.
Last of all are the apple brioches made by using praline paste (I opted for Nutoka......a tight-arse version of Nutella but surprisingly more hazelnutty) and sliced apples layered onto brioche and fried in clarified butter, similar to a pain perdu.
Be very careful with brioche as it can colour in seconds. I would recommend having a medium-high heat to ensure that you don't end up with cremated apple toast.
After that it was time to plate up. Cutting the brioche into triangles and stacking as artistically as possible on the one side followed by carefully prising the apple mousse halves off the cling film to sit alongside. The book states to cut the apple half into wedges and add toasted pine nut kernals to resemble 'pips' but something just didn't feel right about slicing into my realistic-looking apple.
It's pretty safe to say that I love all things apple so this dessert was a one way ticket to apple heaven. Its so so good. The flavour of the gel coating the mousse is spectacular, not only the striking resemblance to an actual apple, but the flavour and contrast in rich flavour compared to the more mellow mousse. The brioche adds that caramel note and crunchy texture with the soup giving a sharp hit and more variance to the dish. Sat in The Hind's Head, pint in hand, with this in front of me I would be a very happy man. Delicious.