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.
The pdf of the recipe is here.
I was kind of lukewarm about this challenge, because I had already tried chocolate pavlovas before. I never got around to posting them, so maybe I’ll put them up soon for comparison. This one involved a ganache-mascarpone mousse and a creme anglaise, though, so that was exciting. I had never made creme anglaise before and it. is. delicious.
So here are some issues I have with the recipe (which have nothing to do with taste – no complaints there!):
1. It isn’t really a recipe for a pavlova. It’s a recipe for chocolate French meringue, cooked until dry, as if for meringue shells. Which are great! But not pavlovas. Meringue shells are egg whites and sugar, beaten to stiff peaks, and baked at a low temperature, say 200F, until hard and dry, say 2 hours. Pavlovas are large mounds of the same, baked in an oven that was preheated at a higher temperature, say 350F, to make a nice crust, and then lowered to around 300F for maybe 45 minutes to an hour, so that the inside stays moist and marshmallowy.
I went for a pavlova, but I forgot to start the oven off at a high temperature because the recipe, of course, specified a low temperature, so I ended up with something not quite the same as either a pav or a meringue shell. This mixture had a lot of cocoa powder in it, and I think that may have changed the texture, too. It was almost cakelike.
2. The creme anglaise required 6 egg yolks, and the “pavlova” called for 3 egg whites. Now that’s kind of silly. So naturally, I doubled the amount of pavlova so I’d use up all my eggs. I could have forgiven the silliness, though, if it weren’t for the fact that, even with twice the amount of meringue, I had about three times as much of both toppings as I could use. Maybe I was supposed to dump them on, but I served the extra toppings with the pavlova and encouraged my friends to add more, and I still ended up having to throw a lot away. (The mousse is great with the sweet pavlova but not sweet enough to eat on its own, and the creme anglaise is delicious but I couldn’t find many things to put it on that went with its eggy flavor.)
This recipe had some interesting flavors: Grand Marnier in the mousse and Sambuca in the creme anglaise mixture. I didn’t have Grand Marnier on hand, but I did have Cointreau (made margaritas on Cinco de Mayo :)) and brandy, and since Cointreau is orange flavored nondescript liquor and Grand Marnier is orange flavored brandy, I thought a little of those two would have a similar effect. It tasted great!