Sunday, June 27, 2010

DBs June Challenge: Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

June has been a busy month for us here in good ole Temple, Texas, which means I waited till the very last minute to do this months Daring Bakers Challenge. After watching USA totally botch the game, I spent the rest of afternoon reviving my spirit in the kitchen preparing each of the steps involved in this months challenge. That's probably another reason I waited till the last minute.. I knew it would be time consuming, but man was it worth it!

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.

When making this recipe, make sure you have a few hours set aside to get everything together. Thankfully, it can all be done pretty smoothly because each component can be made while another is baking or cooling.

I chose to prep mine in the following order:
-Prepare the creme anglaise (for the mascarpone cream) earlier in the day- this requires at least 2 hours to cool in the fridge.
-Prepare pavlovas and while baking, begin the recipe for the mascarpone mousse.
-While waiting for the chocolate component for the mousse to cool, finish preparing the mascarpone cream.
The dessert took about 2 1/2 hours including the baking time for the pavlovas.

Don't be intimidated by all the steps! All the recipes are quite simple and the final presentation is pretty impressive.
Recipe 1. Creme Anglaise (component of Mascarpone Cream)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
6 TBS (75 grams) sugar

In bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until mixture turns pale yellow.
Combine milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Immediately take off heat.
Pour about 1/2 cup of hot liquid into yolk mixutre, whisking constantly to keep from scrambling eggs. Pour yolk mixture into pan with remaining cream and put back on heat. Stir constantly until mixture thicken enough to lightly coat the back of the spoon (this won't take very long).
Remove mixture from heat and transfer to bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
This will be used later for the Mascarpone Cream.

Recipe 2. Chocolate Meringue (Pavlovas- the base of the dessert)
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup plus 1 TBS (110 grams) white sugar
1/4 cup (30 grams) powdered sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Put egg whites in a large bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed and gradually add sugar until stiff peaks form.
Sift powdered sugar and cocoa powder over egg whites and fold dry ingredients into egg whites. Make sure to fold gently and it will eventually come together.
Fill pastry bag with meringue and pipe into shapes on parchment paper. If you don't have a pasty bag, you can just plop your meringue and level with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 2-3 hours until meringues are dry and crisp. Living in Texas the humidity is a problem sometimes, but after about 2 1/2 hours in the oven the meringues were perfect!

Recipe 3. Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse (to be placed on Pavlovas)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
9 ounces (255 grams) 72% chocolate chopped If you don't have 72% use a combination of higher and lower chocolate
1 2/3 cup mascarpone
pinch of nutmeg
2 TBS Grand Marnier or orange juice (optional)

Put 1/2 cup of heavy cream into sauce pan over medium heat. Once warm, add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer mixture to large bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool (about 30 minutes).
Place mascarpone and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until mascarpone is loose. Stream heavy cream (Or you'll have a huge mess- I learned the hard way) and whip on medium speed until soft peaks form. Don't overbeat!
Once chocolate is cool, mix about 1/4 of mascarpone mixture into chocolate to lighten. Fold in remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill pastry bag with mousse.
During assembly, you'll be topping your baked pavlovas with the mousse.

Recipe 4. Mascarpone Cream (for drizzling)
1 recipe creme anglaise
1/2 cup mascarpone
2 TBS Sambuca (optional)
1/2 cup heavy cream (I actually ran out of heavy cream and even without it the cream still turned out great)

Remove Creme Anglaise from fridge. Place mascarpone in microwave for about 10 seconds to make it a little softer. Slowly whisk in mascarpone until incorporated. 
In a separate bowl, beat heavy cream until very soft peaks form.
Fold cream into mascarpone mixture.

Pipe Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse onto baked and cooled Chocolate Pavlovas.
Drizzle with Mascarpone Cream.

This turned out to be my favorite challenge yet. A perfect dessert (and well presented if I do say so myself!) to top off a delicious dinner of fresh garden tomato pasta.

Shortly after this devouring, Mountain Man simply looked at me and held up his hand. No words needed to be shared...we both agreed... high five Daring Kitchen.

Happy Baking!