I’ll admit, as I took a bite of one of Elyssa’s tootsie rolls, I braced myself for the tough texture and cheap-cocoa-powder taste of your standard tootsie roll candy. But, as I began to chew, the candy began to melt in my mouth. This was velvety caramel fudge, a blissful, luxurious confection. To say her “caramel mou” is far-removed from the customary tootsie roll would be a severe understatement.
Elyssa Fournier is the owner and pastry chef extraordinaire of Mixed Bakery in Corona del Mar. She began her career at the International Culinary Center (formerly known as the French Culinary Institute) in New York City, where she earned her degree in pastry arts. Baking under Le Cirque’s acclaimed pastry chef, Jacques Torres, Elyssa whipped up tempting treats at many New York bakeries before moving to southern California. Then, after creating wedding cakes for two years and serving as a head pastry chef for five years, Elyssa felt ready and inspired to launch a bakery of her own.
Tootise rolls aside, Elyssa is an expert when it comes to lemon bars, vegan truffles, persimmon tarts, and sugar cookies, to name a few. Their subtle sweetness and crisp perfection will always have you reaching for “just one more.” What could be the secret to her sweet success?
After spending some time with this passionate pastry artist, Elyssa’s habit of using the best quality ingredients became apparent. “I don’t skimp on chocolate and cocoa powder. There’s a huge difference between Hershey’s and the ‘good stuff,’” she told me, as she mixed in semi-sweet chocolate drops into banana muffin batter. Rather than Ralphs or Trader Joe’s, Elyssa gets most of her ingredients, including chocolate, from Restaurant Depot, Chef Toys, Surfas Culinary District and wholesale restaurant markets for high quality and quantity goods. And, when it comes to fruit, Elyssa tends to use seasonal fruits for optimal flavor. Her fruit tart specialties often include plum and pineapple for summer, apple and pear for fall, and mango for spring.
Interestingly enough, while Elyssa won’t skimp on ingredients like chocolate and fruit, she’s not afraid to skimp on sugar. “In most bakeries, things are too sweet,” she notes. Sadly, sugar-happy bakers may be to blame for many people’s dislike of desserts. Treats that are so cloyingly sweet that they hurt your teeth end up not being treats after all. Taking this into account, Elyssa is mindful of sugar, using some, but not too much. This simple method has a huge payoff: people who disfavor desserts because of how sugary they can be fall in love with Elyssa’s.
Made with the perfect amount of sugar and excellent quality chocolate, Elyssa’s caramel mou, or, tootsie rolls, win over even the most dessert-shy. A pastry school recipe hidden away for years, Elyssa suddenly felt compelled to pull it out one day, and, thankfully so. Today, the soft caramel fudge has become a customer favorite and is her son’s most beloved treat she makes.
Elyssa was kind enough to provide the recipe below. However, if you’d rather skip the mess, give her a call and she’d be delighted to place your order!
Caramel Mou (Tootsie Rolls)
By Elyssa Fournier of Mixed Bakery
4 cups heavy cream
3 ½ cups sugar
2 ½ cups corn syrup
4 cups chocolate
2 ½ tablespoons butter
Line a half sheet pan (13”x18”) with parchment paper, letting the paper hang over the edges.
Mix cream, sugar and corn syrup in heavy bottomed pot and cook on medium/medium high heat till the mixture reaches 245ºF on a thermometer. Watch carefully that the mixture does not boil over. This will take at least 45 minutes.
When the caramel hits 245ºF, remove from heat and quickly stir in butter, then chocolate and immediately pour into parchment lined pan. Be extremely careful, caramel burns hurt! Allow to cool completely then cut into desired size pieces. Running a knife under hot water and drying off between cuts creates a cleaner slice. Wrap pieces individually with parchment paper or cellophane.
Elyssa Fournier/Website: Mixed-Bakery.com
Phone: 949.903.BAKE (2253)