Sunday, 8 May 2016

Qualifirst Review: Chestnut Purée, Maple Sugar

Qualifirst Foods

Part 3, and final, part of my Qualifirst review is for their Chestnut Purée from France and Crystallized Maple Syrup from Quebec. I had never worked with either of these ingredients, but I love trying new foods and recipes so I was excited to test them out!

Qualifirst Maple Sugar and Chestnut Purée 

Of course I had to taste the little maple nuggets right away. I love maple syrup, and these tasted just like that, only in solid form. I tried them with walnuts on my morning oatmeal (delish!) but I wasn't exactly sure how to incorporate them into a recipe. I thought they would be great sprinkled on my GF shortbread cookies just before baking or used in a crumble for a coffee cake. In the end I decided to use them in my Maple Chestnut Cheesecake Mousse. They added a delicious sweet crunch and balanced out the earthiness of the chestnut purée. 

Maple sugar and walnuts on oatmeal 

Maple Chestnut Cheesecake Mousse

This is something I really haven't worked with or even tried before. I expected the purée to be kind of pumpkin like in consistency but it was way more dense. Almost the texture of smooth mashed potatoes that have been sitting in the fridge over night. The flavour is nutty and earthy, but not too intense. I found that it had to be whisked pretty vigorously to break it up and mix it with other ingredients. I used it to make a Maple Chestnut Cheesecake Mousse and it was amazing. The textures and flavours of chestnut were perfectly balanced by the creamy cream cheese, sweet maple and airy whipped cream. I only used 2/3 cup of the purée for a mousse that fed 6 people, so I need to think of some more ways to use it up! Pinterest, here I come. 

For the rest of my Qualifirst Review check out Part 1 and Part 2.

Disclaimer: Samples were provided to me free of charge. All opinions are my own. 

Maple Chestnut Cheesecake Mousse

This recipe is inspired by some of the gourmet ingredients I recieved from Qualifirst to review. Namely, the chestnut purée and the maple sugar; both ingredients I had never used before. I thought long and hard about what to make with these ingredients. I turned to google and pinterest, hoping to find something that was gluten free, delicious and didn't require too many difficult techniques. I found chocolate chestnut mousse, pavlova cake, chestnut cheesecake and more, great inspiration but not exactly what I was looking for. I finally realized I would need to create my own recipe. Combining aspects of many recipes I found, I came up with a Maple Chestnut Cheesecake Mousse.

I served it to my family for our Mother's Day dessert and I was surprised at how good it was! I've never had anything like it. It was so much better than the sum of its parts (I think chestnut tastes kinda weird on its own). It's no bake, comes together in 20 mins or less and best of all, naturally gluten free. Everyone adored it! I hope you do too.

*If you can only find sweetened chestnut purée, omit some of the sugar in the recipe. 

Makes 6 good sized servings

1 1/4 cup Heavy Cream 
     1/4 cup Icing Sugar 
     1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2/3 cup Chestnut Purée (unsweetened)
1/4 cup Maple Syrup (can sub any other natural liquid sweetener- honey, agave, etc)
1/4 cup Icing Sugar (can be omitted or reduced for less sweetness)
1 tsp Maple Extract
1 block Cream Cheese at (or close to) room temp
3 Tbsp Maple Sugar (can substitute other toppings - cookie crumble, skor bits, etc) 


*Use mixer or hand mixer.
Whip cream, 1/4 cup icing sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks. Set aside in a separate bowl. 
Beat chestnut purée for 20 seconds to break it up.
Add maple syrup, 1/4 cup icing sugar and extract and beat until smooth.
Add in cream cheese and beat until smooth (a couple minutes).
With a rubber spatula, carefully fold in all but roughly 1/2 cup whipped cream into chestnut mixture. 
Spoon mousse into ramekins or cups. Garnish with remaining whipped cream and sprinkle 1/2 Tbsp maple sugar on each serving.
Serve immediately or let chill in fridge for a couple hours before serving.  

Whip cream to stiff peaks

Beat chestnut purée 20 seconds

Add in syrup, maple extract and icing sugar, beat until smooth

Beat in room temp cream cheese until smooth

Fold in whipped cream (reserve 1/2 cup for garnish)

Gently fold until completely combined

Spoon into ramekins or cups and garnish

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Qualifirst Review: Sun-dried Blueberries, Sun-dried Cranberries,Lavender Honey

Qualifirst Products 

The second part of my Qualifirst review includes 2 more sun-dried fruits and a beautiful French lavender blossom honey. All of these ingredients are amazing on their own, so I didn't do anything too complex with them. I simply paired them with foods I thought would compliment their flavours.

Sun-dried Blueberries and Cranberries

Lavender Blossom Honey

I am not a honey connoisseur in any way. I usually buy the cheapest stuff and spread it on toast or use it to sweeten tea. I was amazed at how different this lavender honey tasted compared to my regular store brand. There is a distinct, yet delicate, floral after-note that imparts a kind of tea-party-in-the-garden sentiment. I felt that these flavours would be lost in any kind of baking, so I simply used it as a topping for my cornbread muffins. It would also be amazing on scones or any other tea party appropriate treat. I find myself going back over and over again for just one more taste of that charming flowery nectar.

Lavender Honey on GF Cornbread Muffins 

There is an amazing amount of flavour packed into these tiny nuggets. They are deeply sweet and bursting with blueberry flavour. I added them to a maple walnut granola and they provided the perfect compliment; sweet and chewy, nutty and crunchy. Of course they are also delicious eaten straight up. My 2 year old discovered them and now calls them bucket raisins. He is no longer interested in regular raisins. Haha!

Maple Walnut Granola with Sun-dried Blueberries 

These are not your every day craisins. They are whole and plump and tart. I baked them into my lemon poppyseed muffins, in place of craisins. It's almost tastes like I added sweet fresh cranberries, not dried. The burst of fruity flavour is a welcome addition to my afternoon coffee treat! 

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins with Sun-dried Cranberries 

Disclaimer: I was provided these samples free of charge. All opinions are my own.