Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chocolate Pavlovas and a Weekend of Firsts

Chocolate Pavlova with Chocolate Mascarpone Mouse

This was a weekend of firsts for me...
First Daring Bakers Challenge,
First time making meringue (on my own), and  
First time making pavlovas, which I can now happily cross off my culinary bucket list, although I suspect this isn't the last time I'll be baking them.

I excitedly joined the Daring Bakers community at the end of last month, after eying its members' wonderful creations for quite some time. As part of my resolutions this year, I wanted to start challenging myself more, all the while investing more time and energy doing the things that I love. Baking being very high up on that list, Daring Bakers seemed like the perfect group to join.

Here we are, a few weeks later, and it's time to post my results for the June 2010 Daring Bakers' challenge, which 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 François Payard.

I will admit I was nervous when I started reading all the different elements that were required. I kept thinking that not only was this going to take forever, but that if I didn't manage to make one or more of the components correctly, the entire dessert would be ruined. Since it was my first challenge, I wanted to stay as true to the instructions and recipe as possible. That said, I'm pretty picky with my chocolate desserts. I don't often like dark chocolate in recipes, chocolate on chocolate (crazy, I know), and the pairing of orange and chocolate. So, I decided to considerably reduce the amount of mousse I'd be making, as well as mascarpone cream, and omit the Grand Marnier, just in case. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly each piece of the pavlova came together. Most of my time ended up being spent waiting for the crème anglaise to cool and the meringue shells to bake.

Chocolate Ganache to Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

As I suspected, the combination of the chocolate on chocolate topped with mascarpone cream was a little too rich for my taste, although I used semi-sweet chocolate instead of the dark chocolate required. My mascarpone cream didn't turn out quite as expected and ended up instead having more of a pudding like consistency, probably because I whipped the heavy cream a little too long. The flavors were there, so it was still good, but it didn't help make the dessert any lighter. I wasn't quite sure how to plate the dessert to make it attractive. I made a couple of attempts at just adding the mousse on top of the meringue shell and drizzling the mascarpone cream, but I just didn't like the way it looked... Finally, I decided to turn it into a trifle by alternating layers of the meringue, chocolate mascarpone mousse, and mascarpone cream and topping it with a couple of plum slices.

While browsing the internet for some inspiration, I came across Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova recipe, and Petrina Tinslay's beautiful photo of the dessert. All I could think about was how I wished that's what my dessert looked like. So, since I have some beautiful meringue shells leftover, I will be making a simple vanilla whipped cream, piling that on top of the meringue and topping everything with fresh raspberries and chocolate shavings. I can't wait!

Thank you Dawn for an exciting first challenge!

Chocolate Pavlova Trifle

Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse
(adapted from Dawn's challenge recipe)
Printer Friendly Recipe

Crème Anglaise
(recipe from Bon Appétit, February 1998)

1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
   3 large egg yolks
   3 tablespoons sugar

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until 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 1/4 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.

Chocolate Meringue Shell

   3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (110 grams) white granulated sugar
1/4 cup (30 grams) powdered sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) Dutch processed cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheet(s) with silpat or parchment paper.

Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form.

Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and gently fold the dry ingredients into the white until incorporated.

Fill a pastry bag with the meringue and pipe into whatever shapes you want. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon or spatula.

Bake on the center rack for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in airtight container for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
grated zest of 1/4 lemon
2 1/4 oz semi sweet chocolate, chopped
   1 smidgen nutmeg
   4 oz mascarpone

Put 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once war, 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 in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose, then increase speed to medium and whip until it holds soft peaks. Tip: Do not overbeat as the mascarpone will break.

Mix about 1/4 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 the mousse on top of the meringue shell.

Mascarpone Cream (for drizzling)

1/2 recipe crème anglaise
1/4 cup (60 mls) mascarpone
1/4 cup (60 mls) heavy cream

Slowly whisk the mascarpone into the crème anglaise and let the mixture cool.

Put the heavy cream in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold into the mascarpone mixture.

To assemble, pipe or spoon the mousse onto the pavlovas then drizzle the mascarpone cream over the top. Dust with powdered sugar and fresh fruit if desired.

Post a Comment


Nachiketa said...

yummy looking pav... :)

The Variable, Crazy Over Desserts - Nachiketa
Catch me on facebook @ Crazy Over Desserts

Croquer à Pleines Dents said...

@Nachiketa - Thank you very much. Definitely, a great way to start off my journey with the Daring Bakers!

citronetvanille said...

Lovely photos, I am not a sweet tooth kind of a person, but you might make me change my mind with this one! It looks absolutely amazing! Great job!

Sneige said...

irresistible! :)
les photos aussi!
merci de partager!

Joy said...

That looks great. You did a wonderful job. It was my first challenge too and I had so much fun participating. I can't wait for the next one.

anchan said...

Your mousse looks perfect! I agree, it was difficult to know how to plate it. Nice work! xxx

Croquer à Pleines Dents said...

@citronetvanille - Wow, that's one heck of a compliment... Thank you :) I loved your Cream of fava bean and edamame post & photos!

@Sneige - Merci beaucoup. Ça me fait plaisir de voir qu'il y a des francophones qui lisent le blog. Je viens de m'inscrire au tiens. Je ne sais pas si t’es une pro, mais tes photos sont vraiment superbes et super apétissantes. Totally up my alley, comme on dit ici :)

@Joy - Thank you! That means a lot, especially since I struggled with the plating. I'm definitely looking forward to the next challenge. Hopefully, it's not something too crazy. Good luck!

@anchan - You're so sweet, thank you! I love how bloggers from all over the world are members of the Daring Bakers. I hope I'm fortunate enough to visit Japan in the coming years. Beautiful country!

Memória said...

Congratulations on your first challenge and for the other firsts! You did a fantastic job.

Cherine said...

Gorgeous pavlova!! Looks sooo good!

Croquer à Pleines Dents said...

@Memória - Thank you very much. I'm thrilled to finally be part of the group and am already looking forward to this month's challenge.

@Cherine - Thank you, thank you. The pavlova did turn out really good; I'm pretty proud of myself!

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