Sunday, June 27, 2010

JUNE 2010 - Daring Baker's Challenge: Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

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Since joining the daring kitchen and taking part in their baking and cooking challenges, I have come to the conclusion that we (our family) has been non-daring for far too long.  You know how it is... the kids start getting picky, money gets tight and before you know it your menu consists of five basic meals that you know your kids will eat.  The sad part is, my kids are all grown now and I'm still cooking that way!  Well, I've been a bit more experimental since my mom moved in with us in 2004 but Neil is such a meat and potatoes man that my menu changed from pleasing the kids with the five meals to making mostly meat and potato dishes!
     I've enjoyed the challenges and the new techniques we are encouraged to try and this month's baking challenge was just that... a challenge! 

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.

Mandatory items: The recipe is comprised of three parts, four if you include the crème anglaise. You must make the chocolate pavlovas, the mascarpone mousse and the mascarpone cream using the recipes provided. 
Variations allowed:
•You can use orange juice for the Grand Marnier in the mousse if you don’t use alcohol
•You can omit the sambuca from the mascarpone cream.
•You may substitute any crème anglaise recipe you might already have in your arsenal.

My first surprise was to find out that Mascarpone cheese was only to be found in one specialty spot in our area.  I needed at least 2 cups of Mascarpone and the asking price was $6.00 for 4ounces.  No way I was going to pay that!  So I made my own Mascarpone cheese - which proved to be relatively easy.

(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese) This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese
474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
     Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
     It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
      Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.
     Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

     Next up was making the chocolate meringue- I had a lot to do so I decided to make one BIG Pavlova instead of individual servings.  In hindsight (isn't it a wonderful thing to have after a disaster???) I should have stuck with individual pavlovas.  Not that the big one was inedible, but it was hard to cut through and create slices.
Chocolate Meringue (for the chocolate Pavlova):
3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder
     Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.
     Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.)
     Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)
     Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire.
     Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Recipe 2: Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse (for the top of the Pavlova base
1 ½ cups (355 mls) heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
9 ounces (255 grams) 72% chocolate, chopped
1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice)  *I used orange juice
     Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, 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 and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the orange juicwe and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)
     Mix about ¼ 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 mousse on top of the pavlova.

Recipe 3: Mascarpone Cream (for drizzling):
1 recipe crème anglaise
½ cup (120 mls) mascarpone
2 tbsp (30 mls) Sambucca (optional) *I just omitted this ingredient
½ cup (120 mls) heavy cream
     Prepare the crème anglaise. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and the Sambucca, if desired, and let the mixture cool. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.

Recipe 4: Crème Anglaise (a component of the Mascarpone Cream above):
1 cup (235 mls) whole milk
1 cup (235 mls) heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar
     In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the 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 ½ 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.

Finally, you put it all together!!!
Pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas and drizzle with the mascarpone cream over the top. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and fresh fruit if desired.


  1. Wow wonderful job.. they looks gorgeous.. great work!!! and nice step wise pictures.


  2. Looks great! I thought about doing a large one as well after seeing some others, but I ended up doing individual ones. Nice job on the challenge!

  3. Great work on the challenge! I loved the way the mascarpone turned out too! But I found my chocolate mousse way too chocolatey (if there is such a thing)maybe I used too dark of a chocolate!

  4. Great job Vivian! Looks delicious! Love your photo 'tutorial"!

  5. Well done on the challenge Viv, and am glad you made your own mascarpone. WOW!!

  6. Awesome stuff..... you made your own mascarpone... That's cool...
    Your pavs look lovely :)

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

  7. I just happened upon your blog. Love the great recipes.

  8. I am glad you are getting brave with your cooking and baking. I am in the same position. I love the pavlova. You can use it for Have the Cake. I have to find a recipe, I want to make.