Daring Bakers, June: Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse
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
Dawn hadn't posted her project last time I checked, but the amazingly talented, creative, and quick Australian DBer Audax Artifex posted it all here, along with tips on making a traditional pavlova with a soft, mallowy center! I highly recommend his blog!
I plated mine three ways--this is the traditional stacked style, with the meringue on the bottom, the creamy filling next, then the toppings--in this case, the chocolate mascarpone mousse, mascarpone cream, shaved chocolate, and chocolate-covered coffee beans.
Deconstructed, with the components layered in clear glasses to show a trifle-like effect--this is a common fancy-pants dessert plating. It gave the meringues a chance to shine, though, and I liked that.
While the mascarpone was supposed to be the star, the vanilla bean creme anglais base in the mascarpone cream was my favorite flavor.
I made a frozen sandwich treat with the last of the components, all of which freeze well, especially the meringues and mascarpone cream (creme anglais is basically the base for most ice cream recipes, so it always freezes well). The mousse wasn't creamy like ice cream until it melted in my mouth. The components in this form created the best synergy for me.
Here's a closer look.
I was excited to see that our June's project was a pavlova because it's a dessert that's given me problems in the past despite the fact that I'm comfortable with all other forms of meringues. Alas, this is really just a regular meringue cookie base. It will be crisp all the way through instead of having the soft, mallowy center that traditional pavlova recipes will give you. Again, if you visit Audax's blog linked above, he tells you how to put the traditional dessert together.
The recipe is easy to divide, which is always a plus for my two-person household. Still, half the mascarpone recipe was too much, and a quarter would've been more than enough for the recipe's purpose. Because you can do so much with it, though (freeze it into ice cream, use it as a base or topping for other desserts, etc.), it's probably worth making a half or full batch. If you freeze it, you can always thaw it out to use as a drizzle again. The meringue recipe made 5 large meringues about the size of saucers, but meringues also freeze and thaw well.
I didn't have enough chocolate in my pantry for the recipe, so we picked up one of the pound-plus bars at Fresh & Easy. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's Callebaut chocolate--a high-quality chocolate that's a pleasure to work with and eat. I chopped it up for the recipe and topping using my serrated bread knife--it makes quick short work of even the thickest slab of chocolate.
I saw several projects with a thin, almost translucent cream drizzle, but I wanted mine to have a little more body, especially since I knew I'd end up with so much of it. The recipe says to beat the mixture to soft peaks, but I went just a smidge past hat since I knew it would soften up again after all the other handling it would go through.
I also saw a lot of mousse with a grainy, gritty texture. The recipe warns not to overbeat the mascarpone because it can break--heed that warning! Gritty mascarpone has a texture similar to drained ricotta--not what I'd want in a creamy summertime dessert. Once you're ready to fold the chocolate in, the mixture can take a lot more abuse.
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