Okay, so only a couple days late. Still sneaking in within the month of June, so I am hoping it still counts... :)
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.
From the moment I saw the challenge posted, I knew this would be delicious, and that it would be a huge hit with... well... everyone I know. I am so glad that, though a smidge late, I was finally able to make this, since I was proven SO right!
A pavlova is a meringue based dessert, often topped with fruits and whipped cream. This version takes the basic pavlova and kicks it up a very, very chocolaty notch. Chocolate meringue topped with chocolate marscapone mousse. Talk about decadent!
I will admit that I made a couple of minor variations to the recipe. For starters, I did not have marscapone, and after the delay with getting started and subsequent power outage, did not have the time to make my own marscapone, so I used cream cheese instead. Not perfect, but not bad. I also skipped the creme anglaise that is called for in the recipe, though will absolutely try it another time I make this dessert.
The two components of this dessert, then, were the chocolate meringues and the chocolate mousse. I started with the mousse, as I wanted to divide the challenge, and knew that the mousse could easily sit in the refrigerator overnight. Little miss could help with most aspects of this challenge, and got a lot of arm exercise stirring, mixing and folding different ingredients together. She started by whisking chocolate into heated heavy cream, making a super delicious and tempting chocolate ganache. I think the only thing keeping her (or me...) from licking this straight out of the pot was the knowledge that it was still super hot...
Once the ganache was set aside to cool, we set out making the mousse. I set out the cream cheese to soften, then put it into the bowl of my mixer. Little miss added even more heavy cream, and the mixer did the hard work of whipping them together to create a creamy, fluffy mousse. Think cream cheese frosting meets fresh whipped cream, and you are on the right track.
Then make it even better. By adding in the entire bowl full of chocolate ganache. Little miss and I took turns mixing this, since it took quite a bit of mixing to incorporate all of that chocolate into the mousse, but the result looked so amazingly delicious - a rich, smooth, chocolaty mousse that was very, very hard to leave alone in the refrigerator. But somehow we did, and let it sit overnight.
This morning we were ready to prepare the second component of the dessert, the chocolate meringues. The regular meringue base of whipped egg whites and sugar was dusted with confectioners sugar and cocoa powder, which then needed to be carefully folded into the egg whites. Little miss and I, once again, took turns mixing. We had to mix carefully, so as not to deflate the egg whites, but thoroughly, in order to fully incorporate the cocoa goodness throughout. After a few minutes and a bit of elbow grease, though, the mixture became smooth and shiny and homogenous, and I was ready to shape my meringues.
The best way to carefully shape meringues is to pipe them onto your prepared cookie sheet. I do not have a pastry bag, and didn't feel like messing with a plastic bag today, so I went a little more free-form, and made my shapes using only a spoon and my (thoroughly washed) fingers. I tried to shape the meringues into somewhat bowl-type shapes, to provide a well for the mousse to go into, once I was ready for assmebly. After shaping the first two, little miss took one look and told me that they looked like birds nests, which let me know I was doing a decent job.
I was lucky enough to have a friend come for a visit today, and even luckier that she is a huge fan of all things chocolate. So while our daughters enjoyed their afternoon snacks (sno-cones, in case you are curious), I decided to treat the mommies to a double dose of chocolate. Carefully spooning the mousse into the middle of the "nest," we each had a personal pavlova. The chocolate-on-chocolate makes this slightly difficult to photograph, but let me just say - YUM. These are so good. They will definitely be made again, and I promise to use the entire challenge recipe, too. :)
Thank you, Dawn, for a wonderful, decadent and delicious challenge. Thank you, Daring Bakers, for being patient with my delay on preparing and posting this. And thanks to my friend for visiting and offering to be my taste-tester!
To see the other amazing and delicious pavlovas prepared by the other Daring Bakers, check them out here.
4 weeks ago