This week's TWD pick was a blanc manger. I will admit, I had never heard of a blanc manger until I read this recipe, and knowing what it is, it is not something I would ever make on my own. I don't like desserts with a custardy texture. I need crunch and chew. Also, this dessert is traditionally made with gelatin, and as I'm a vegetarian, I don't eat the stuff. There are a few substitutes out there, but my experimentation with them thus far - marshmallows using agar agar - has not been successful. Still, I wanted to give this a try.
I thought this was delicious - it is basically whipped cream, ground almonds to flavor it and gelatin (or in my case agar agar) to help it set - though to me it was more of a topping than a complete dessert. Dorie does say in her recipe notes that you can put it on a crust, and I think I would have preferred it that way. Perhaps I should have gone ahead and made a crust for it, but I like to make recipes as they are written the first time I make them. That way, I can see what the author intended, and made my alterations based on the finished product. If I make it again, it will definitely have a crust.
The recipe is for a raspberry blanc manger, though I used blackberries, as that's what we got at the farmer's market this week. The blackberries were a delicious contrast to the sweet, almondy flavor of the manger.
There were supposed to be berries folded into the mixture before it set, but something about that didn't appeal to me - I can't put my finger on just what it was. So I left them out, and topped my blanc manger with a blackberry coulis and fresh blackberries.
The almond meal I have has the skins in it, so my blanc manger isn't so much blanc as speckled.
In Dorie's recipe, the gelatin is mixed with 3 tablespoons of water to soften it, then it is heated so it will dissolve. It didn't seem like enough water for the agar agar, and I probably added about another 3.
The only change I would make taste-wise would be to use less sugar. It was quite sweet, even with the slightly tart berries. I think this would actually be pretty easy to make with agave, if it was added to the heavy cream as it was being whipped. Unfortunately, this didn't occur to me until after I had already made it. Ah well...
It is a simple enough dessert to make, but one that uses a surprising number of dishes, and for that one reason I probably won't make this very often.