From Too Many Chefs -

February 13, 2008
It's a mystery to me...

mystery.jpgThere is a popular dessert in French restaurants and cafés called a mystère, a kind of an inverted Baked Alaska, with meringue on the inside and ice cream on the outside. It's not much of a mystery, though, as the photo always clearly shows what you are getting. (It's usually on offer at the kind of places that have photos of their desserts.) My dessert, however, is a true mystery. Firstly, the photo, as usual, conveys very little idea of what on earth it is. And secondly, the Critic and I spent a good 20 minutes trying to come up with an appropriate name for the dessert before he finally said, "I give up. Why don't you ask your readers to come up with a name?"

First I'll tell you what it isn't. It's not a tart (no crust). It's not a cake (too dense). It's not a tart (the Critic kept stubbornly coming back to that idea, so I thought I'd repeat it). It's not a fruit bar (too wet). It's not a flapjack (not enough structural integrity). It's a dense, chewy, crunchy, sweet and satisfying...thing. With mincemeat. It's a mystery to me. (But I'll be making it again, oh yes, because it was absolutely heavenly.)

Mystery Dessert (serves 6)

1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbs honey
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
500 g mincemeat
1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease a 9" square pan, or, even better, six ramekins. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal, sugar, baking soda and salt and then stir in the oil, honey and milk. Spread half this batter in the pan(s). Spread the mincemeat over the batter and top with the remaining batter. Sprinkle the hazelnuts evenly over the top. Bake for 45 minutes or until browned on the top and no longer wobbly. Serve warm with a drizzle of thick cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

And the first person to come up with a satisfying name for the dessert (the Critic will judge) will receive a mystery prize from me. So give me your brilliant ideas!

Posted by Meg in Sussex at February 13, 2008 11:13 AM

I could almost make this here in Mexico, but need a mincemeat substitute - something in a tropical fruit.

As for a name... in the tradition of the famous "Napoleon", another lyrical 3-syllable name comes to mind. Why don't you call them "Liebezeits"?

Posted by Marianne on February 13, 2008 at 8:53 AM

Ooh, Mar, I think that would be a bit egotistical, not to say...Napoleonic! (For those not in the know, my maiden name is Liebezeit!)

As for a mincemeat substitute, anything sticky and sweet would probably do - is there such a thing as mango jam? If so, I would be tempted to mix in a handful of plump raisins to increase the chewiness. Let me know how it turns out if you try it!

Posted by Meg in Paris on February 13, 2008 at 9:19 AM

It reminds me of a traditional British pudding. But "mincemeat pudding" sounds too much like it could have meat in it. How about Spiced Fruit Pudding?

Posted by Kelly on February 13, 2008 at 11:41 AM

Yum...I've never heard of this, but it looks and sounds really good.

I'd just call it The Not Dessert. Because we know what it's not, we just don't know what it is.

Posted by Sues is not Martha on February 13, 2008 at 12:14 PM

There's a long tradition of naming new recipes (tetrazzini) and other things (bikini bathing suits) after famous people or events of the day. You could pick someone or something that you admire and name it that!

Posted by gs on February 14, 2008 at 7:40 AM

What about: Mincemeat Crumble?

Posted by Dumdad on February 14, 2008 at 11:54 AM

Dumdad, that was my idea too, but the Critic shot it down, I'm not sure why!

Keep those ideas coming!

Posted by Meg in Paris on February 14, 2008 at 12:37 PM

It sounds something like a bar cookie. And it sounds really good.

Posted by mnemonica on February 14, 2008 at 9:11 PM

If it's not a crumble, how about another Old New England dessert type:
- a slump?
- a betty?
- a grunt?
- a buckle?
To me, it sounds most like a betty (or "brown betty"), with a filling cooked between two layers of crumbly oatmeal.

Posted by Elsa on February 15, 2008 at 9:46 AM

Or a "crisp"? The oatmeal/flour/sugar/baking soda combination is pretty standard in crisps. Not a slump, since those pour something more akin to a pancake batter over the filling.

Mincemeat crisp? Alas, it doesn't sound very appetizing.

Posted by DianeAKelly on February 16, 2008 at 9:08 AM

Elsa, I love those old fashioned New England names! I had to look them all up and in the end agree with you - Brown Betty is probably closest.

DianeAKelly, I thought about "crisp" but despite the presence of oatmeal/flour/sugar it really was very different. The batter was only slightly thicker than a cake batter and it surrounded the fruit filling.

I'd like to call it a grunt, personally, just because it's the most fun word. But that would be cheating!

I'll have the Critic look at these comments tonight and give his judgement!

Posted by Meg in Paris on February 16, 2008 at 10:38 AM

We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email if interested. Thanks :)

You can view our blog here:

Posted by Sophie on August 26, 2008 at 1:00 PM