Its Daring Bakers reveal time, again, and our challenge for this month was to make a dessert that’s a treat for chocolate lovers. This challenge was a bit unusual in that it didn’t call for any butter at all, but made up for that with some cream!
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
A Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert served as a cake, whose basic ingredients are egg whites, castor/ superfine sugar, cornstarch, white vinegar, whipped cream and soft fruit. Here, the characteristic texture of the meringue base should be crisp on the outside and soft and marshmallowy on the inside.
Both Australia and New Zealand claim the pavlova as their own, and there is also confusion regarding its actual origin/ creator. However, this dessert is generally credited to Bert Sasch, an Australian chef. He is supposed to have created it to honour the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova when she toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s.
We were required to make the meringue base (chocolate or plain), chocolate mascarpone mousse, mascarpone cream and crème anglaise. We had the choice of using our own recipes for the crème anglaise and of course, our presentation.
You can find the complete and detailed challenge on Dawn’s blog.
The Meringue Base:
Meringues are something my egg disliking daughter loves, so I do keep making them on and off. I’ve made Meringue Cookies and Nut Meringue Cookies before and this time I made some mini-meringue cookies also.
I needed to serve dessert for five, so I made five 2 1/2″ meringue nests and used the rest of the egg white batter to make the cookies.
Meringues are quite easy to make, but you just need to have very, very clean bowls and beaters to start with. It also helps tremendously if you don’t have any sort of humidity to contend with as the meringues tend to draw moisture and become soft and sticky.
Right now it’s the monsoon season, here in India, and this is definitely not the best time to successfully bake meringues. So, for a change, I actually did this challenge early in the month before the rains set in.
I made small single serve sized meringue nests, and chose to keep them plain. I do love chocolate but it seemed to me that chocolate in the meringue and the mousse would be over kill.
We do prefer our meringues (in anything including pavlova) to be completely dry and crisp as opposed to marshmallowy inside, so that’s the way I cooked mine.
My meringues were done in an hour and quarter.
The Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse:
I used home-made mascarpone for my mousse. My changes were using 25% cream (what we get here), semi-sweet chocolate (the only kind I get here and I don’t know what % chocolate it has!), and not using Grand Marnier/ orange juice. This was because we don’t use alcohol and I didn’t think orange juice would pair up well with mangoes which I was going to add to my pavlova.
This mascarpone mousse is not very sweet which is a good thing in this dessert, and it sets very well and is very easy to pipe into designs.
The leftover chocolate mascarpone mousse made the perfect topping to these German Chocolate Cupcakes of mine.
The Mascarpone Cream And Vanilla Crème Anglaise:
I deviated slightly from the challenge requirement here and didn’t make the mascarpone cream. The dessert was already rich enough for me and since there already was mascarpone in the mousse, I decided to leave it out. I added some chopped fresh mango instead over the mousse, before adding the crème anglaise.
Summer in India means that we get a wonderful variety of some the sweetest and best mangoes in the world, and as far as we are concerned there can never be “too much” of it. So it was a foregone conclusion that there was going to be mango in my pavlova.
For the crème anglaise (a dessert custard sauce of pouring consistency), I made an eggless vanilla custard sauce using vanilla custard powder, sugar and milk.
On the whole, I didn’t really find this pavlova challenging because I have made all the elements, including a different chocolate mascarpone mousse, before.
Like many of our earlier challenges, this is one dessert where the elements can be made slightly ahead of time and then put together before serving.
Meringues are naturally on the sweeter side, though you can reduce that a bit by adding cocoa powder to make a chocolate meringue. In this recipe the chocolate mascarpone mousse balances that out and you can always adjust the sugar in your crème anglaise, if sweetness is an issue.
There is something satisfying about the slight crunch of the meringue, the creamy smooth richness of the mousse, fresh moist sweetness of the fruit and the crème anglaise completes this dessert.
I am someone who is not very fond of meringue, yet this is one dessert where I think I don’t mind it.
I think a pavlova (made with whatever your flavour preferences might be), is something to keep in one’s stock of desserts to serve whether there is company or not. It is easy enough to make, light in texture, and a great way to showcase seasonal fruit.
You can find all the other beautiful Pavlovian creations (I’ve had a preview so you can trust me on this) on the Daring Baker blogs. Don’t miss them.