I made that!

On being boring.

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Celebrating with Cake! by brandi on December 11, 2011

Ummm… hi?

So yeah, it happened. I fell into the hole that is now The Pantry. What can I say besides that I’m sorry? You see, the thing is, I LOVE my new hole. I obsess. I make spreadsheets. I organize. I reorganize my spreadsheets. Owning a business has been amazing (how did I ever have a boss?), but I think it is fair to say that I am getting my butt kicked. In a masochistic kind of way. In fact, if we’re being honest, the only reason I am here, writing this very post, is because I’m fighting off a cold that is forcing me to remain horizontal, wrapped up in a down comforter, watching episode after episode of Glee, with a sprinkling of a good documentary to break up all that nauseatingly addictive singing (did you know that the Mormon church bankrolled Prop. 8? And that becoming a Green Beret is quite torturous?) Anyhoo, either way, here I am. Oh yeah, and I got this comment on my blog a week or two ago:


While I admit that this one had me chuckling for a few hours (boring? really?), it did remind me that I have been sorely neglecting my blog. I thought about posting an apology, including an adorable picture of Bean to make you all forget my negligence.

But that didn’t feel right. Not there’s anything wrong with cute cat pictures, I just promised myself when I started this whole blogging hobby that I wouldn’t post unless I had something that I’m really proud of. There has been some great cooking, but unfortunately no time to document. I’ve always felt this to be a blog more about technique than recipes, so I didn’t want to just throw a recipe at you without really digging in. But I can see now that those days of spending many hours meticulously collecting photos of every step of super-elaborate recipes are getting fewer and farther between.

So I’m here with a compromise. I’m short on process photos, but I’m making up for it with a recipe that I firmly believe will knock your socks off. It’s a maple walnut trifle, and I seriously think about it nonstop. Think toasted walnut cake, cut into bite-sized cubes. A creamy and intense maple fluff. Crunchy candied walnuts and Maldon sea salt. It is my personal bowl of heaven. I developed it, along with Stephanie, my pastry chef in training, for the dessert menu at Delancey. We hosted a dinner for Sam Mogannam to celebrate his new book, and we served it family-style in giant trifle dishes (I later found out that Sam is allergic to walnuts and yes, I cried a little on the inside). I suspect that I will be serving it at Christmas dinner this year. It is that good.

Quick note: Sheet gelatin can be tricky to find, but it’s available online. I dramatically prefer it to powdered gelatin.

Maple Walnut Trifle

Toasted Walnut Cake:

4 ounces walnuts

4 ounces brown sugar

1/2 vanilla bean

4 ounces cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons maple syrup

4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

– Preheat the oven to 350º. Butter an 8″ cake pan and line with parchment. Set aside.

– Spread the walnuts on a sheet tray and bake until lightly toasted. Cool completely.

– In a small bowl, rub the seeds from the vanilla bean into the brown sugar. Set aside.

– In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Sift and set aside.

– In a small bowl whisk together canola oil, maple syrup and milk. Set aside.

– Place the cooled, toasted walnuts in a food processor and grind until they are the size of bread crumbs. Do not pulse them into a paste.

– Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the brown sugar. Cream the mixture on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding the next and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Beat for another minute. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add the ground walnuts.

– With the mixer running on low, add a third of the flour mixture. Mix until just combined and then add half of the milk mixture. Repeat with another third of the flour, then with the rest of the milk mixture, ending with the rest of the flour mixture.

– Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until done. The baked surface will spring back slightly when touched in the center and the sides will begin to contract from the pan. Remove the cake from the oven, and let cool before removing from the pan.

Maple Mousse:

14 ounces grade B maple syrup

5 1/2 gelatin sheets

16 egg yolks

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups heavy cream

– In a medium saucepan, reduce the maple syrup by 25% over med-high heat for 5-7 minutes (it will bubble a lot). The resulting weight should be approximately 11 ounces. Set aside to cool.

– Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a simmer.

– Place the sheet gelatin in cold water until it is completely squishy, about 5 minutes. Remove from the water and shake off the excess liquid. Set aside.

– Whisk together the cooled maple syrup, salt and egg yolks in a metal bowl. Cook over the pot of simmering water, whisking constantly until the mixture registers 165º F. Remove the bowl from simmering water and stir in the drained, bloomed gelatin sheets. Pour the mixture through a fine mash strainer, into a clean medium bowl. Set aside to cool, whisking every few minutes. You can either place the mixture over an ice bath, or pop it in the fridge. It is very important to check in with a stir every few minutes, to keep the edges from setting to quickly. The goal is to have the mixture set to being equal in stiffness to whipped cream.

– Beat the cream to stiff peaks. Fold in a third of the cream into the cooled maple mixture, to lighten it. Gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream until just barely mixed. Pour into a container and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

Assembling the Trifle:

– Cut the cake into large cubes and fill the bottom of a trifle dish. Just before serving, pour on the maple mousse.

– Top with candied walnuts, a drizzle of maple syrup and some maldon sea salt. Enjoy.


45 Responses

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  1. Matthew said, on December 11, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    You make me want to move to a different apartment. One that has a kitchen.

    P.S. This dessert is freaking amazing.

  2. beadingstars said, on December 11, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    I agree 1000% about leaf gelatine. I think one of the problems for most people continues to be the absence online of comparative amounts. I prefer the German leaves as they are uniform in size while some of the others are big or small, some medium and even in specific recipes some people still have trouble with the amounts. Also it is quite an experience for a first time user to reconcile the wet cellophane-like mass to rescue from the water and believe it would do anything to the food 🙂 Thank you, this one is a keeper.

  3. Ashley said, on December 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    haha. You boring?! That is laughable. Now I am SERIOUSLY kicking myself for not having this for breakfast right along side you last weekend. Huge mistake. Truth be told I’m not much of a trifle person but you have me convinced.
    Feel better!

  4. Sarah said, on December 11, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Four things!

    1.) Bean is so cute. More Bean pictures!

    2.) That maple walnut trifle looks crazy good. I live in Vermont, so I adore any thing with maple.

    3.) I loooove it when recipes call for a vanilla bean. It makes such a difference.

    4.) Your blog is so cool. That’s okay to take a break, just be sure to come back.

  5. Anna said, on December 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    It sounds great, but there is an error in your instructions. I assume you meant add the remaining milk, not flour and then more flour.

    Finding Grade B maple syrup in stores can also be challenging; however, I have some Blis maple syrup aged in bourbon barrels which I think would be amazing in this.

    • brandi said, on December 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm

      Thank you Anna! Just fixed it.

  6. Sam @ The Second Lunch said, on December 11, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Welcome back! I believe I can speak for the majority of your readers and say that we are proud that you are doing really awesome things in the real world, and we miss you, but you know, it’s okay 😉

  7. Meister @ The Nervous Cook said, on December 11, 2011 at 4:57 pm


    Is that better? I’m sure that’s what the person meant. At least, it’s what I mean! Post whenever you want: Each one is a delight, no matter when or how often they come.

  8. Louisa Allan said, on December 11, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Hey Brandi, so excited that you’re back! The trifle looks ace.

  9. Kathleen said, on December 11, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    YES!!!! This dessert is amazing. I am so thrilled to be able to make it at home! Thanks for being so boring! 🙂

  10. patsquared2 said, on December 12, 2011 at 12:54 am

    Not a boring bone in your body….or your pantry, I will bet. LOVE the idea of this recipe and if I can get up the nerve…will try it. Happy Holidays!

  11. A Plum By Any Other Name said, on December 12, 2011 at 4:43 am

    Wow. Harsh. Hey, blogging is tough. And it sounds like you’ve got yourself a real life too. 😉 I always appreciate your recipes when you post them. Welcome back!

  12. linda said, on December 12, 2011 at 5:43 am

    hi brandi,
    so happy to see this post & know that all’s good…busy is great!
    this is THE recipe i have been looking for… for holiday party! think i will bake & freeze that cake portion so i can be ahead of the curve!!

  13. Connie / Marinating Online said, on December 12, 2011 at 6:43 am

    I have been eagerly awaiting your next post. Boring, I think not! I also have a food biz and completely understand about making lots of great food and not having time to photograph. I now pick one day each week to clear the schedule and find time to photograph and it actually happens at least twice a month! Lovely recipe. Like cashmere food.

  14. Kelsey said, on December 12, 2011 at 8:50 am

    If I can’t find sheet gelatin or don’t have time to order it, what equivalent amount of powdered gelatin should be used?

  15. Heidi said, on December 12, 2011 at 9:09 am

    That comment totally made me chuckle. Somehow in this blog-o-rific world, readers feel this sense of entitlement! Do what you gotta do, enjoy your life, post when you can/want to, and for those that get their panties all up in a wad…….screw them. 🙂

  16. thekalechronicles said, on December 12, 2011 at 10:16 am

    I would call this sinfully delicious. I will never make it because I don’t work with gelatin, but I would come over to your house and eat it anytime!

    • brandi said, on December 12, 2011 at 9:29 pm

      You know, if you added some more yolks and took the custard up to 180 degrees, to thicken it, you might not need the gelatin. We use it in the restaurant to keep the mousse set throughout the night, but if you are serving it pretty quickly, then I bet you could get away with it.

      • thekalechronicles said, on December 13, 2011 at 5:19 am

        Thank you for your thoughtful suggestion, Brandi. Maybe I will try it with increased yolks and heat.

      • FoodLines said, on December 26, 2011 at 11:16 am

        Reporting back: I just tried it without the gelatin. Added three extra eggs yolks, tried to bring it up to 180 degrees and failed somehow (it just stayed around 165 and cooked there for a while), and it still worked like a charm. It’s even good the next day; it just needed a vigorous stir (and it’s DELICIOUS!)

  17. Vivian said, on December 12, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    LOL I hope that commenter takes one last look at your blog and sees this post. How ridiculous. Your blog is great and I’m sure all your subscribers look forward to new posts, but you don’t owe anybody anything. Your priorities are your own! Duh. Congrats on finding a career you love. It’s always inspiring to hear about people who love their jobs and work damn hard at them.

    Super cute cat btw!

  18. Danielle said, on December 13, 2011 at 9:49 am

    What’s the yield on this? I’m guessing 16 egg yolks makes rather a lot of mousse.

  19. Stacy G. said, on December 13, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I CANNOT believe you just posted that recipe. I went to Delancey last month while visiting Seattle and absolutely SWOONED over it, and vowed to learn to make it at home…. And now you have given me no excuse. Thank you!

  20. Susie said, on December 13, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I look foreword to your blogs but I really enjoy the classes and the Pantry at Delancy. Keep doing what you have to do.

  21. Jeffalina said, on December 14, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Life happens – still love your blog BTW!

  22. Dana said, on December 14, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Comment the first: I want your trifle!
    Comment the second: You aren’t boring, you’re busy. Busy happens some times. It’s nice to see you back!

  23. kale @ tastes good to me! said, on December 14, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    I am almost MORE ecstatic to see a new post when I know all the work going on behind the scenes. Don’t worry, to me it’s worth the wait!

  24. lady usa blogger said, on December 15, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Cat bum for the first pic! Hehe..

  25. DistantSun said, on December 16, 2011 at 4:34 am

    Nice to have you back – this recipe sounds amazing – although another post on what to do with the plethora of left over egg whites would be useful!

    ps happy to have yummy recipes with less photos – one shot of sugary, nutty creaminess was enough to sell me…..

  26. Eggton said, on December 16, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    You post whenever you can, lady. We’ll be here. Best of luck– so very exciting! Congratulations on the Pantry!

  27. saucycooks said, on December 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Just dropped by for the first time, so you haven’t let me down!!! Love your writing, the trifle looks divine and I have no known walnut allergy and I loved the comment to your blog. We received one that basically said my writing was “off topic” too much….just the facts m’am!!!

  28. She said, on December 22, 2011 at 1:13 am

    Well worth waiting for! Don’t feel under pressure – it’s great you have your own life and any food lover can see it’s important to the world that you’re out there feeding people 🙂

  29. The Troika Table said, on December 26, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Ah, welcome back! We were just talking yesterday about some of our favorite food blogs and hoped all was well with you. I’m glad to see this new recipe (sounds delicious!).

  30. Luana Gong said, on December 26, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    I love your blog! Congrats! i need to work like you…I’m only posting bullshit about my feelings…I’m getting lazy to cook and take a picture and post and so on…you are inspiring me..Thanks!

  31. Kartik @ Bakeology 101 said, on December 30, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    I’m glad to see that I’m not the only Gleek food blogger out there 😀

  32. Kristen Whyte said, on January 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    I love your blog and can’t believe that someone would actually leave a comment like that – how mean! I am a novice blogger (1 year +) and hanging in there. I would be a liar if I said that other super star blogs sometimes make me want to throw in the towel! Anyway, I enjoy yours enormously and can’t wait to try this recipe – it will give me a reason to buy the gelatin sheets!! Keep up the great work.

  33. Elizabeth said, on January 16, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Can this be halved rather well? After making chocolate mousse last week, I dont know if my husband can take another dessert for 10 🙂


  34. Brenda said, on January 19, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Some people are so effing needy. Amazing how they took the time to diss you. “Hey buddy, do you seriously not follow any other blogs?” What a D bag! Brandi, you don’t owe anyone anything. You write this blog cause you want to period! Oh and did that idiot forget that you built a business from the ground up (literally) and work for yourself. Man comments like that make me so mad. See you soon at The Pantry. Hugs.

  35. Vahtikoira said, on January 20, 2012 at 10:24 am

    A mouth-watering recipes. wow!!!!!!!!!That´s fantastic, thanks for sharing this!

  36. Stefan said, on January 24, 2012 at 10:37 am

    I am going to add some brown sugar bacon to this!!

  37. A Tropical Trifle « donutsatmidnight said, on January 26, 2012 at 6:38 am

    […] since I saw this maple walnut trifle recipe, I have had trifles on my mind. What’s not to love? You have something creamy, something […]

  38. Lauren said, on January 27, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Oh my gosh… your cat Bean looks almost IDENTICAL to our cat Sparrow!! We had to check photos – we rescued Sparrow from the RSPCA, then saw that you are in the US – we are in Australia. I swear they are related. Do you have any other photos? Everyone comments how unusual Sparrow’s colouring is – and she’s even got the same tufty bits of hair on her feet, just like Bean does. Sparrow sleeps on her head too!

    Wow, uncanny find!

    Lauren 🙂

  39. Corie said, on February 21, 2012 at 8:51 am

    You know what? I don’t believe your blog is boring. In fact, I enjoyed watching the pictures, especially bean and reading the whole post.

  40. Caroline said, on December 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Looks great! How many portions does the recipe make?


  41. rowemily said, on September 20, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Never commented before but I found you through Molly’s website and have had this recipe in the back of my brain ever since you posted it! No idea if you respond to comments on old posts but can you tell me approximately how many people this would serve?

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