Sunday, June 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

It’s official; I’m now a member of the Daring Bakers! I’m so excited! When I first started reading food blogs, and seeing Daring Bakers posts I was intrigued, it was one of the reasons I started thinking about beginning my own blog.

As a little background here is my interpretation of Daring Bakers.
It was started by a couple of food bloggers that thought it would be fun to create a virtual community around a shared love for food. Each month a challenge would be selected that all of the members could work on; something that might be out of each person’s normal baking repertoire or that might stretch an individual’s current skill and experience level. All the members would be experiencing the same challenge within the same month and then share their results with the world on the same day. No, it’s not a contest, it’s just for fun. Daring Bakers have TONS of members from all over the world. (You can find more details on what Daring Bakers is all about on the Daring Kitchen web site.)


The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

This recipe was really made up of four sub-recipes, so needless to say it was a bit of an undertaking. However, not all four parts had to be completed at the same time, so I broke it up into two days. I made Recipe 1: Chocolate Meringue and Recipe 4: Crème ANglaise on one night. The next night I made Recipe 2: Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse and Recipe 3: Mascarpone Cream and then assembled it all together (actually, I was taking it to a party so I didn’t put the Mascarpone Cream on until we got to the party).

I had never made meringue or mousse before, so I was looking forward to something new. The Cream Anglaise, though different, seemed very similar to the custard like filling I made for the fruit tart.

Here’s the recipe with my pictures and my commentary italicized.

Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

Recipe 1: Chocolate Meringue (for the chocolate Pavlova):

3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside. (I used parchment paper)

Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. The whites should be firm but moist.

Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together. (This really did take some patience)

Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon. (Since I was taking these to a party, I wanted mini versions that would be easy for folks to grab and eat while they mingled. I made some small circle disks and I tried to make some small circle cups…I had no idea if they would work but they actually did. I used the last little bit of meringue and made some chocolate meringue ‘kisses’.)

Going into the oven.

Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. (I baked mine for the full 3 hours)

Just out of the oven.

Since I made these the first night, I stored them in an airtight container until I was ready to assemble them the next night.

Recipe 2: Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse (for the top of the Pavlova base):

1 ½ cups (355 mls) heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
9 ounces (255 grams) 72% chocolate, chopped (I could only find 70% chocolate at my grocery store and it worked fine.)
1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp (30 mls) orange juice

Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.

Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the orange juice and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.

Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.

Recipe 3: Mascarpone Cream (for drizzling):

1 recipe crème anglaise
½ cup (120 mls) mascarpone
½ cup (120 mls) heavy cream

Prepare the crème anglaise. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and let the mixture cool. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.

Recipe 4: Crème Anglaise (a component of the Mascarpone Cream above):

1 cup (235 mls) whole milk
1 cup (235 mls) heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.
Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.

Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK.

Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.

Pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas and drizzle with the mascarpone cream over the top. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and fresh fruit if desired. (For mine, I piped the mousse into the meringue cups. For the meringue disks I piped the mousse on top and then layered them into little stacks. As I noted earlier, I did not put the mascarpone cream on until just before serving. I will note, that for the few that were left at the end of the night, the meringue absorbed a lot of the moisture from the cream and they weren't as crisp as they started out.)

Meringue cup filled with the mousse.

All the cups.

All of them, pre-party.

These were very good, but very, very rich.

Finished at the party with the mascarpone cream drizzle.


I can’t wait for my next Daring Bakers Challenge, I wonder what it will be…

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