All Ovah PavlovaJune 29, 2010 at 7:57 am | Posted in Cakes, Daring Bakers, Dessert, Fruit, Gluten Free, Pies/Tarts, Puddings, Rainbow | 64 Comments
Tags: Chocolate, chocolate mousse, Creme Anglaise, Daring Bakers, Francois Payard, fruit, Mascarpone Cheese, Meringue, Passion fruit curd, Pavlova
Once upon a time there was a Russian ballerina named Anna. She was so dainty, delicate and known for being incredibly light on her toes, that when she danced on a tour through Australia and New Zealand, they came up with a dessert in honor of her – a dessert that was light, feminine and delicate, but only in appearance. Have you ever had a meringue cookie? Well, Pavlovas are a fancy, gooier and larger version of the meringue cookie..with a crispy shell and a soft cloud like marshmallowy interior. They can be filled with anything, but berries and cream seem to be the most popular and authentic way it’s served down under. I’m willing to bet that in order to remain light and delicate on her toes, Anna wasn’t eating Pavlovas! If that was actually the case, boy was she missing out! If someone named a dessert after me..I’d be gorging on it and marketing it, as long as they rolled me to each destination. Here’s a good question - If given the choice, which would you prefer, a dish, whether it be sweet or savory, created for and named after you, or a song written for and about you?
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.
My first thought was to make an authentic pavlova – with a twist because I’d never made a pavlova before, but know my way around all kinds of meringue preparations. Thanks to my pal, Audax, who provided the Daring Bakers with an authentic recipe that everyone was raving about, I was able to do just that. However, Francois Payard is one of my favorite pastry chefs, so I HAD to make the recipe from his book that was provided to us, every component, word for word – especially since his lovely creations cost an arm, a leg and maybe an eyeball, at his showroom/mouth watering- feast on the eyes wow factor patisserie in NYC.
Perfect Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse…..before I murdered it.
Naturally, since I always leave these challenges to the last minute, things went wrong. I decided to bake the chocolate meringue in a tart pan. Great idea, right? Well, sort of. You see, one characteristic of a perfect pavlova is that the crispy outer shell cracks and crumbles a bit after being baked and cooled. Yes, this is a good thing palatably, but not a good thing aesthetically and photogenically when you’re a food blogger. YES, I got the perfect tart pan ridges, but as they should have, they separated and crumbled a bit..so it really didn’t look like the meringue tart shell I was hoping for.
Where I really screwed up was on the chocolate mascarpone mousse. Initially, I didn’t screw up..it turned out perfect..silky, creamy chocolate love. BUT- I made it a day ahead and refrigerated it, so when it came time to assemble my dessert, the mousse was firm (due to the mascarpone cheese solidifying..which is normal). I didn’t have time to let it come to room temperature so it could morph back into it’s luscious, silky self – so I decided to take a beater to it – forgetting about the mascarpone cheese in it.
Mascarpone cheese breaks when over beaten, and it had already been beaten lightly, prior to storing it, as the recipe read. The extra beating, which was a lot of beating since I needed it soft for piping, turned my smooth and silky mousse into a grainy mess. It still tasted great..and was surprisingly smooth on the tongue…but it literally looked like sh*t. Well. I had planned to cover it with fruit anyway, so now I just needed to cover all of it with fruit, and loads of fruit!
By this time I’m frustrated, so I made a mess of the fruit. Instead of perfectly symmetrical slices of papaya and mango that I envisioned spread in a beautiful concentric circle, I ended up slicing away haphazardly, slimy fingers squishing the fruit..leaving me with uneven chunks and slices that I eventually just layered on the tart sloppily, shoving a piece here, and another piece in there, watching my grainy mousse start to ooze over the side..taking over the meringue tart shell like The Blob.
My chocolate pavlova was now drooping and sinking - exactly like the robot kid’s face in AI- Artificial Intelligence when he ate spinach (I think I’m the only person in the world that actually liked that movie). Even after all of this, and even though I’m not a huge chocolate on chocolate person, it still tasted great and that mascarpone cream with the creme anglaise base, was to die for. I’m dumping the leftover cream in my ice cream maker as soon as I get this tardy post up!
I had a much better ’aesthetic’ result with the authentic pavlova recipe, although letting them sit overnight mottled the texture a little..I suppose you could say they sort of shriveled. I made snowballs, and not just any snowballs, but pearl lustre dusted snowballs filled with white chocolate chantilly, passion fruit curd, champagne mango (BEST MANGO EVER) and papaya balls, and chopped pistachio. I used a regular sized ice cream scoop to form perfect, fluffy, glossy meringue balls, each of which I pressed a slightly wet spoon into to make wells for fillings.
For the pearly look (which you can’t really see in the photos, unfortunately), I mixed some pearl lustre dust with a little almond extract and brushed it lightly over each ball. Come to think of it..I don’t think the almond extract was needed because some chemical reaction between the meringue and extract took place..giving my balls a pinkish hue. Brushing it on dry probably would have been better.
For the recipe for Francois Payard’s Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse and Mascarpone Cream, click HERE, To see the lovely creations by other Daring bakers, click on the links to their blogs, HERE.
Since passion fruit seems to be currently unavailable in my area, I used the above frozen passion fruit pulp. It lent extraordinary flavor to the curd. As fresh as you can get with frozen.
Passion Fruit Curd
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup passion fruit pulp, OR frozen passion fruit pulp OR frozen passion fruit juice drink concentrate, thawed
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. In the top of a double boiler, whisk egg yolks, sugar, hot juice, salt, and lemon Juice.
2. Cook over boiling water 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly, or until mixture thickens and you can draw a line through the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Cool 3-4 minutes, stirring several times.
3. Stir in butter, one tablespoon at a time, until melted in. Press plastic wrap on top of curd and let come to room temperature. Chill for several hours in the fridge for best results.
Chocolate Mascarpne Mousse
1 1/2 cups (355 mls) heavy cream
9 ounces (255 grams) good quality chocolate, chopped
1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone cheese (I’ve made this using cream cheese instead of the mascarpone..just as good)
pinch of nutmeg
1. Place 1/2 cup of the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.
2. Put the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low speed for 1 minute until the mascarpone is loose. Do not overbeat, as the mascarpone will break. Mix about a quarter of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble your pavlovas or ready to serve as a dessert on its own. If you refrigerate it for a long time..the mousse will firm up. Do not beat it. Let it come to room temperature then stir it and serve.
White Chocolate Chantilly
3 ounces best-quality white chocolate, very finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1. Heat the cream on in a sauce pan over medium heat until it starts to boil. Pour over chopped white chocolate in a bowl. Let sit for 1 minute.
2. Stir the cream and white chocolate until combined and no lumps remain. Let come to room remperature than cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until cold.
3. Whip the cream until soft peaks form.