Daring Bakers: Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

I am so excited.  This was my first Daring Bakers’ Challenge.  I have been following the Daring Bakers for awhile but never actually committed my self to joining.  But now I really want to stretch myself, and I figured the Daring Bakers are just the way to do it.

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 challenge was a good one for me to start with.  I have made pavlovas before, but never chocolate and never with quite so many steps.  I usually just fill them with some lemon curd or lightly sweetened whipped cream and fruit.  These pavlovas are a rich and decadent dessert with a mousse and a creme anglaise sauce.  I added some sweetened strawberries to the finished product, which nicely accented the dark chocolate mousse.

I chose to make my pavlovas into cupcake shape, an idea I gleaned from the Martha Stewart Cupcake Book.  I thought they were so cute and made perfect individual servings.

CHOCOLATE MERINGUE (I doubled the original recipe to get enough cupcakes)
6 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder

Beat egg whites on high speed with the whisk attachment until foamy.  Add granulated sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until incorporated.  Beat until stiff peaks form.  Sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder into the egg whites.  Fold into the egg white mixture.

Line a standard muffin tin with cupcake wrappers.  Grease the inside of the cupcake wrappers and the top of the muffin tin.  Pipe or plop the egg white batter into the cupcake wrappers.  Bake at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 1/2-3 hours.  Remove from muffin tin an allow to cool completely.

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
9 ounces 72% chocolate, chopped (I used 70% and only ended up using 8 ounces, I left one on the counter)
1 2/3 cups mascarpone
pinch of nutmeg (I additionally threw in a pinch of cayenne just for fun, it did not really make much difference)
2 tbsp Grand Marnier or orange juice (or if you are me, you have both and completely forget to use either one, where was my brain making the mousse?)

Heat up 1/2 cup of cream and lemon zest.  Once warm, add chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth.  Beat together remaining cream and mascarpone cheese until soft and whipped up.  This is where you should add the orange juice or Grand Marnier, but I spaced and forgot.  Mix the cooled chocolate in with the cream and mascarpone.

1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
6 tbsp sugar

Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a bowl.  Combine the milk, cream, and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a bowl.  Remove from heat.  Pour about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the eggs and whisk rapidly to prevent curdling.  Add the egg mixture back to the remaining cream mixture.  Cook on the stove until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon.  Do not boil.  Strain if needed and then cool in the fridge for a few hours.

1 recipe crème anglaise
½ cup mascarpone
2 tbsp Sambucca (optional, I did not use this because I had no idea what it was.  Turns out it is an anise flavored liqueur that I do not have)
½ cup heavy cream

Whip up the heavy cream.  Mix the mascarpone and optional Sambucca in to the creme anglaise.  Fold in the whipped up cream.

To assemble final product:
1. Remove “cupcake” from its wrapper
2. Cut off the top
3. Pile some mousse, mascrapone cream, and optional strawberries
4. Place the top back on
5. Enjoy!