There’s an SCA apple pudding (actually a mousse/muse/moyse, which literally means “blend” or “mix”) which isn’t supposed to be too hard to make the modern way. So I set out tonight to make it.
The problem is, that even when I added an extra egg yolk, it didn’t really thicken for me like it was supposed to, and it tasted like applesauce. I mean, exactly like applesauce. It was as if I hadn’t added any ingredients at all. (Possibly the applesauce I started with was more watery than what the redaction writer used.) I didn’t have any rosewater or “damaske water”, but I hadn’t thought that would be a serious problem. Now I knew what it was for — changing the taste.
It had occurred to me earlier that cheddar cheese would probably be really nice as a topper for it, but I didn’t have any cheddar. So I thought, “Maybe I should add some cheese. Maybe that would make it taste and look like something other than applesauce.” The only cheese I had was Velveeta, so I used it. It did thicken the applesauce a bit, but not much, and the taste didn’t change much, either, even though I used maybe a half inch off the Velveeta block. The Velveeta melted so well that it blended right into the applesauce! It did make the applesauce taste richer, but that was very subtle.
I added more spices. Still applesauce. I added turmeric. Finally, the color changed. But it still tasted like applesauce, albeit spicy applesauce.
So, in desperation, I hauled out the alcohol. (It’s still the holidays, so people like that.) I guess I could have used that black raspberry liqueur, but honestly, that flavor is so strong and sweet that the pudding probably would have been oversweetened. I probably should have just used whiskey, but not everybody likes the taste of whisky. I had some Bailey’s, so I mixed a few splashes of that in. It worked pretty well with the spices and the applesauce, though I think the alcohol didn’t cook out as thoroughly as it would have if I’d put it in from the beginning. But it was clearly not storebought applesauce after that, and it did seem more like a dessert than a side dish.
Overall, this applemoyse came out better than I deserved. It was very tasty, served warm. The flavor faded somewhat when cold, but it did finally get a thicker texture and it still was pretty good.
I think that the next time I make this recipe, I will have to strain out some of the applesauce water or put in a lot more egg yolks.
I probably could have put in more Velveeta than I did. The almost total solubility of the Velveeta in a watery substance was very startling! Another cheese might have improved the taste, though it would have to be something that does melt well or you’d have to make it into some kind of crust or topping. If I’d had more time, it might have been good to cook up some rice or tear up some stale bread and put it into the pudding to absorb the water, or put in some other fruit that had lots of pectin, to make the pudding thicken more. I probably also could have put in honey instead of sugar.
Of course, it’s also possible that using applesauce for this recipe is just not the way to go, and that you should start by roasting or boiling your apples according to the original recipe. With historical recipes, there’s often some hidden pitfall if you try to take a shortcut. But tons of other people seem to have had success with this specific applesauce version of the recipe, and they feel it’s easy and quick and hard to get wrong. Shrug.