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Walnut Cupcakes Topped with Rose White Chocolate Mousse and Baklava

Walnut Cupcakes Topped with Rose White Chocolate Mousse and Baklava
Having a seemingly insatiable sweet tooth, baklava, the sticky-sweet treat of layers of buttery phyllo dough, nuts, and honey syrup, has always appealed to me. None the less, I don’t have it too often as my run-ins with baklava are often of the unfortunate “guess how long I have been sitting in this plastic case” variety. I came across the aforementioned treat at a local Mediterranean restaurant which inspired this particular creation.

Making the baklava isn’t difficult, but it is time-consuming. If you like to spend quality time in the kitchen, like I do, it’s worth taking the time to make your own. I was happy with its flaky sweetness and I was also very happy with the rose petal white chocolate mousse. I went easy on the rose, there is just a hint of it, and the mousse was definitely not too sweet and had a nice texture. Not quite as air-bubbly as a typical dark chocolate mousse, but a nice texture just the same. Either two of these components stands well on their own.

I was pleased with the end result. The walnut cake soft and nutty, the mousse cooling with a hint of exotic flavor, and the baklava spicy, syrupy, and crunchy. Definitely a stretch as far as calling it a cupcake, I will admit, but an interesting dessert none the less.

Rose White Chocolate Mousse

5 ounces white chocolate
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
3 egg whites
1/4 cup rose simple syrup
couple drops of red or pink food coloring (optional)

1. Chop the chocolate and set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment set to medium-high speed, beat the egg yolks and sugar until light yellow, about 2 minutes.
3. Place the bowl of egg yolks and sugar over a pan of simmering water. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until thick, about 2 minutes.
4. Take the egg yolk mixture off the heat and add the chopped white chocolate. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until chocolate is melted and combined. Add the butter and incorporate. Set aside. Note: This mixture will be very thick.
5. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment set to medium-high speed, beat the cream until very stiff. Transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside. Wash and dry the bowl and whisk.
6. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment set to medium-high speed, start beating the egg whites. Heat the rose simple syrup in a small saucepan to soft ball stage (about 235 degrees on a candy thermometer). Gently pour the hot syrup into the egg whites as the mixer is running at low speed. Increase speed to high and beat until the egg whites are stiff.
7. Stir in about 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten. 8. Fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Then fold in the whipped cream. Fold in food coloring if desired.
9. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.

Note: You can use purchase rose simple syrup (as I did) or make your own by boiling equal parts water and sugar with a couple drops of rose extract.

rose petal white chocolate mousse
mousse

Walnut Cupcakes
~20 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1-1/2 cups flour (cake if you have it, otherwise all-purpose)
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup grape seed oil or vegetable oil
4 egg yolks (approximately 3 ounces)
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup walnut butter
5 egg whites (approximately 5 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup coarsely ground walnuts

1. Sift flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. In a medium bowl, combine oil, egg yolks, water, and walnut butter. Stir to combine.
3. On a low setting, start to beat the dry mixture and slowly add the wet. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until incorporated.
4. Transfer mixture to another bowl. Wash and dry mixer bowl.
5. Whip egg whites with whip attachment on medium-high speed until foamy. With the mixer on medium speed, add cream of tarter and slowly add sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
6. Scoop about a third of the stiff egg whites into the batter and stir to combine. This should lighten up the batter.
7. Transfer the batter to the egg whites and gently fold until there are no more streaks of egg white. Fold in the ground walnuts.
8. Scoop into cupcake cups just less than 1/2 full (so there is room for mousse) and bake at 350 F for 22-25 minutes until the tops are golden brown.

Note: You can use prepared walnut butter (as I did) or grind walnuts in a food processor until they become a paste. You can add a small amount of some mild oil to help it along.

Honey Syrup from Epicurious.com

1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup honey
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
4 whole cloves (optional)

1. In a small pan, stir the sugar, water, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks, and cloves over low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes.
2. Stop stirring, increase the heat to medium, and cook until the mixture is slightly syrupy, about 5 minutes (about 225 degrees on a candy thermometer).
3. Discard the cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Let cool. The remaining will be used in the next recipe.

honey syrup
honey syrup

Baklava Disks from Epicurious.com
~20 disks / 350 degree oven

1/2 pound walnuts, finely chopped or coarsely ground
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or cardamom
1/2 pound (about 12 sheets) phyllo dough
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter

1. Mix together walnuts, sugar, and spices in a medium sized bowl.
2. Roll out 12 phyllo sheets. Place a sheet of phyllo onto a clean, flat surface. Brush with butter.
3. Repeat with 5 more sheets, buttering between each.
4. Spread the filling over the buttered phyllo.
5. Top with 6 more sheets, buttering between each.
6. Using a circular cookie cutter close to the size of the opening of your cupcake papers, cut as many phyllo disks as you have cupcakes. Using a spatula, transfer to a silpat covered or greased sheet pan.
7. Just before baking, lightly sprinkle the top of the pastry with cold water. This inhibits the pastry from curling.
8. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake until golden brown, about 15 additional minutes.
9. Drizzle the cooled syrup slowly over the hot baklava and let cool for at least 2 hours.

Note: I ended up making by Baklava too thick. I did three layers of eight sheets with two layers of filling. I ended up leaving behind the bottom layer when transferring onto the cupcakes (and saved the bottoms to nibble on). I adjusted the recipe to make a thinner Baklava.

baklava filling
filling

Assemble
1. Pipe the mousse layer just to the top of the cupcake paper.
2. Top with the Baklava disks.
3. Decorate with a dollop of mousse and a walnut.

buttering phyllo
buttering phyllo

scattering filling
spreading filling

stamping out disks
stamping out disks

baked baklava
baked baklava

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