This was a weekend of firsts for me…
First Daring Bakers Challenge,
First time making meringue (on my own), and
First time making pavlovas, which I can now happily cross off my culinary bucket list, although I suspect this isn’t the last time I’ll be baking them.
I excitedly joined the Daring Bakers community at the end of last month, after eying its members’ wonderful creations for quite some time. As part of my resolutions this year, I wanted to start challenging myself more, all the while investing more time and energy doing the things that I love. Baking being very high up on that list, Daring Bakers seemed like the perfect group to join.
Here we are, a few weeks later, and it’s time to post my results for the June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge, which 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 Epiphanyby François Payard.I will admit I was nervous when I started reading all the different elements that were required. I kept thinking that not only was this going to take forever, but that if I didn’t manage to make one or more of the components correctly, the entire dessert would be ruined. Since it was my first challenge, I wanted to stay as true to the instructions and recipe as possible. That said, I’m pretty picky with my chocolate desserts. I don’t often like dark chocolate in recipes, chocolate on chocolate (crazy, I know), and the pairing of orange and chocolate. So, I decided to considerably reduce the amount of mousse I’d be making, as well as mascarpone cream, and omit the Grand Marnier, just in case. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly each piece of the pavlova came together. Most of my time ended up being spent waiting for the crème anglaise to cool and the meringue shells to bake.
As I suspected, the combination of the chocolate on chocolate topped with mascarpone cream was a little too rich for my taste, although I used semi-sweet chocolate instead of the dark chocolate required. My mascarpone cream didn’t turn out quite as expected and ended up instead having more of a pudding like consistency, probably because I whipped the heavy cream a little too long. The flavors were there, so it was still good, but it didn’t help make the dessert any lighter. I wasn’t quite sure how to plate the dessert to make it attractive. I made a couple of attempts at just adding the mousse on top of the meringue shell and drizzling the mascarpone cream, but I just didn’t like the way it looked… Finally, I decided to turn it into a trifle by alternating layers of the meringue, chocolate mascarpone mousse, and mascarpone cream and topping it with a couple of plum slices.
While browsing the internet for some inspiration, I came across Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova recipe, and Petrina Tinslay’s beautiful photo of the dessert. All I could think about was how I wished that’s what my dessert looked like. So, since I have some beautiful meringue shells leftover, I will be making a simple vanilla whipped cream, piling that on top of the meringue and topping everything with fresh raspberries and chocolate shavings. I can’t wait!
Thank you Dawn for an exciting first challenge!