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.
As I mentioned earlier this month I've sort of (okay, really) fallen in love with cherries this season. Standing in my kitchen, cutting each one in half, pitting them, feeling the red juice on my fingertips, plus, they're absolutely gorgeous to look at it, no? Deep, dark, almost sinful. To me, they spark many of my senses; taste, visual, tactile. It only seemed natural that cherries would make the perfect accompaniment to this airy, yet rich chocolate pavlova.
Pavlova's are like clouds. Chocolate, vanilla, doesn't matter. Topped with generous portions of whipped
cream these simple egg white based desserts are like a cloud on your tongue. A show stopper, and a crowd pleaser. They take mere minutes to whip together, and a few hours cooking to dry them out in a very lightly heated oven. Making them (in my opinion) a perfect dinner party dessert. Whip together, then forget about them in the oven for a few hours until you're ready for dessert. I couldn't have been happier with the way my chocolate puffs turned out. To make my variation on this months daring bakers theme simply dip one end of each of your pavlovas after they have baked and cooled in melted semisweet chocolate. After filling with the chocolate mascarpone cream, crown each one with freshly whipped heavy cream sweetened lightly with a bit of honey, sprinkle with split bing cherries (I macerated mine with a bit of vanilla bean sugar), and finish with a few pan toasted almonds (and if you dare, more of that melted chocolate for drizzle). Crunchy, creamy, light, rich, and smooth. Textures and flavors abound, desserts rarely get much easier or more gorgeous!
Chocolate Pavlova Meringues
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon of sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1. Preheat oven to 200 F, placing rack in the center. Line baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper and set aside.
2. Place egg whites in a medium bowl, and whip on high until medium/soft peaks form. With beater moving slowly (about 1 Tablespoon at a time) add your granulated sugar.
3. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form (stiff but not dry).
4. Sift cocoa powder and powdered sugar over stiff egg white mixture, then slowly fold in. It may take a minute or two to come together, but I promise, it will. Just be patient, gently folding chocolate into egg whites.
5. Instead of filling a pastry bag and piping out my pavlova, I used a standard ice cream scoop to make nice individual sized desserts. My batch made about 8 pavlovas. Scoop of pipe onto prepared baking sheet.
6. Place pavlovas in oven and cook for 2-2/12 hours, until crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside!
7. Remove from oven and top with mascarpone cream (recipe below), whipped cream, and whatever garnish your heart desires!
Chocolate Mascarpone Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
zest of 1 lemon
9 oz 72% chocolate
1 2/3 cup mascarpone
2 Tablespoons grand marnier (optional)
pinch of nutmeg
1. Heat 1/2 cup heavy cream and the zest of a lemon in a medium sized saucepan until hot (just boiling).
2. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth and well combined. Set aside.
3. Place remaining cream, and mascarpone in a bowl with the nutmeg and whip on medium speed until mascarpone has loosened up a bit. Add the grand marnier and whip until the mixture holds soft peaks (being careful not to over beat as the mixture will break).
4. Mix about 1/4 of the mascarpone mixture into your chocolate mixture to lighten. Fold remaining mascarpone into chocolate.
5. Dollop or pipe onto the top of each pavlova.
Viola! Another great month for the Daring Bakers!