Chocolate Pavlovas with Mascarpone Mousse
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.
This month's challenge combined three recipes to produce spectacular, chocolatey bliss. I'd made variations of the pavlova, chocolate mousse, and creme anglaise many times before, but the techniques in these were a little different for me. While I'm a big believer in tried and true, that's only good until something better comes along.
I started with the pavlovas, a variation on meringues that I know so well. This time, my meringue batter didn't hold - it practically melted as I folded the chocolate/powdered sugar combo in. Sadly, when they emerged from the oven they were flat and sticky, not fluffy and crunchy like I'd expected. In this case I might have taken too long to fold in the cocoa, but it wasn't very forgiving. I salvaged a few disks just to taste, but most stuck to the parchment paper.
I moved next to the chocolate mousse. I loved the addition of lemon zest in the cream because there's a particular zing in the nose when you taste the chocolate. What's nice is that it's not as predictable as orange zest, but it still different enough to catch peoples' attention. My chocolate mousse is usually heavier on eggs, so even though substituting mascarpone for eggs isn't much lighter, it's a welcome variation. The resulting mousse was dense with texture from the zest and the mascarpone, and it stood up well to the (chewy) pavlovas.
Finally came the creme anglaise - one of those dessert sauces that takes me right back to pastry school. I beat the eggs and sugar relentlessly and get a velvety thick curtain of custard - and I ate half of the bowl without even completing the Sambuca-whipped cream-mascarpone sauce.
If you came to my house looking for a dreamy chocolate dessert, more often than not you'd come away empty-handed. I enjoy working with chocolate more than I like eating it, and that's often why there aren't more chocolate morsels in our house. But I always look forward to those chocolate Daring Bakers challenges because they force me to work with it, to reacquaint myself with its temperment, and to find a good home for the results.
All recipes can be found at the Daring Bakers site, filed as the June 2010 challenge.