Saturday, December 22, 2018

Baltic Christmas Day 22 - Debesmannā! (Latvian cranberry mouse)

This article originally appeared in December, 2013 on the blog Crumb. Reprinted with permission. Please welcome Isabelle Boucher to the series!

Secret Recipe Club: Debesmanna (Latvian Cranberry Mousse)

It’s hard to believe it’s already been a month, but yes, it’s Secret Recipe Club time again!

My assignment for December is Culinary Adventures with Cam, a blog by Camilla, a scuba-diving, jewelry-making, photo-taking mama from the Monterey Bay area.

I’ve been reading Cam’s blog for a while, after first discovering it through past SRC reveals. I admire her knack for finding interesting flavour combinations ( this delicious-looking Salted Fennel Pollen Shortbread), her seriously ambitious dinner party menus (I mean, look at this masterpiece of a Thanksgivukkah menu!), and her willingness to try new cuisines, no matter how obscure or unfamiliar they might be (I mean, did you even know there’s a place called Kiribati, let alone what they eat there? Because I sure didn’t.)

I hadn’t gotten around to cooking any of her recipes yet, though, so this was as good a time as any.

Cam has literally thousands of recipes to choose from in her archives, but the one that really caught my eye was the Latvian Debesamanna, a very simple cranberry mousse made from just three ingredients – cranberry juice, sugar and cream of wheat cereal. The trick is to whip the cooked mixture for several minutes as it cools, transforming the dark magenta sludge into an airy cotton-candy-pink cloud.

Cam used rice cereal for her version, but I decided to stick with the traditional cream of wheat, since I was pretty sure that the magical transformation in this dessert owes everything to wheat gluten – the elastic strands catch and hold the air as it’s being whipped in, much like the proteins in egg whites or the fat in whipping cream.

And, as you can see, my suspicions were right… it really does come out that brilliant shade of princess pink! (Honest, the colour in these photos is entirely un-retouched.)

It’s a surprisingly delicious dish, and totally unlike any dessert I’ve ever had before. Despite the airy texture that is nothing at all like the stodgy cream of wheat we all know and (kinda sorta) love, it still feels substantial and filling. It’s sweet and tart all at once, and the optional splash of milk adds a cool creaminess that helps to temper that tangy cranberry flavour.

I suppose a dollop of whipped cream on top might also be rather nice, if you wanted to dress things up, but I felt like keeping it simple, particularly since followed Cam’s advice and gobbled it down for breakfast.

I mean, when you think about it, as pretty and fluffy and pink as this dish might be, it’s still just cereal with fruit juice and a splash of milk. Right? :)


For Isabelle’s debesmannā recipe, please visit her blog Crumb. She can also be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

As we reach the final days of the series and are busy with the last Christmas preparations, I hope you find a moment here and there to relax, breathe deeply, and enjoy the season. Tomorrow on 24 Days of a Baltic Christmas we’ll bring you a holiday story from Lithuania – I hope you’ll join us!

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