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Maple Mousse Tarts with Salted Pecan Brittle

April 27, 2011

I love the sound of pie crust. The hiss and whisper of the butter as it melts and foams in the oven, creating flaky layers and perfuming the air with the most intoxicating smell. There really is nothing better. And there really is nothing more agonizing than waiting for that crust to cool.

In this case, the crust had to cool completely so I could fill it with a delectable concoction of sweet, fluffy maple mousse. Then I had to let it set up in the fridge. Then I had to top it with crunchy pieces of pecan brittle. And then, finally, I could shove forkfuls of my amazing creation into my mouth.

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at!

Obviously, I really wanted to be unique with this challenge and create a truly phenomenal dessert. I tossed ideas around in my head for a couple weeks, throwing some out, gathering new ones, and gradually settling on what I believed would be a truly incredible combination. I would “contain” that sweet and spongy maple mousse in a crispy, tangy buttermilk-cornmeal crust, then I would top it with crunchy crumbles of slightly salty pecan brittle. Pure magic. Just try to stop yourself from eating the whole thing. Just try.


© Copyright 2011 Carly Sullivan, Tart to Heart

Yield: 6 4-inch tarts

Buttermilk-Cornmeal Crust


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup stone ground cornmeal
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable shortening, cold and cubed
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk


  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt and pulse to combine.
  2. Add the cubed butter and shortening and pulse about 6 times until the butter forms pea-sized pieces.
  3. Drizzle 3 Tbsp of the buttermilk into the bowl. Pulse a few times and test the dough to see if it holds together. If not, add the remaining 1 Tbsp buttermilk.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough to fit your tart pans and press firmly into the pans. Prick the bottoms with a fork, then place in the freezer for 5 minutes.
  6. Line the dough with foil and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Bake 10 minutes, then remove the weights and bake another 10 minutes until golden brown and dry to the touch. Cool completely.

Maple Mousse


  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 (1/4-oz) envelope gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream


  1. In a small saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a boil.
  2. Place the egg yolks in a large, heatproof bowl. When the syrup comes to a boil, remove from the heat and very slowly add to the yolks, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup of the whipping cream and let sit for 5 minutes until the gelatin has softened. Microwave for 45 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds, until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Add the the syrup mixture and whisk to combine.
  4. Let the mixture cool for about an hour, stirring every 10 minutes.
  5. Whip the remaining cream to soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the maple mixture in thirds.
  6. Scoop the mousse into the cooled tart shells all the way to the brim. Refrigerate until the mousse is set.

Salted Pecan Brittle


  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp light corn syrup


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring,until the mixture turns amber brown.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the pecans, butter, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
  3. When the sugar caramelizes, remove it from the heat and add the pecan mixture. Stir quickly to combine and pour onto a sheet pan lined with a silicone mat or greased aluminum foil. Let cool completely until hard.
  4. Break the brittle into pieces. Save a few larger pieces for garnish. Place the remaining brittle in a food processor. Pulse several times until the largest pieces are about the size of a peas.
  5. Sprinkle generously over the cooled tarts and garnish with the larger pieces of brittle.
  6. Place a tart on a plate. Get a fork. Dig in. Enjoy!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 27, 2011 12:00 pm

    You’re a sweets genius! Every time I stop by it’s like you’ve outdone your last recipe, which was great.

  2. Crumbs of Love permalink
    April 27, 2011 1:26 pm

    I love everything about your flavor combinations. The pie crust sounds deluxe

    • April 28, 2011 4:33 pm

      Thanks! I adored this crust. The buttermilk tenderizes the dough so it’s extra flaky and the little bit of cornmeal makes it crisp. Even after several days it hadn’t gotten soggy at all in the fridge.

  3. prerrnamirchi permalink
    April 29, 2011 10:30 am

    I’m definitely gonna use your crust recipe next time I make sweet pies. Love ur photos btw!

  4. May 1, 2011 7:04 pm

    I still haven’t tried making a mousse yet, mostly because I always forget to buy gelatin. But I will be trying this very soon!

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