Wow… what a week it’s been. I have been finishing up all of my toddler’s different playgroup activities for the summer break, trying to think of some books to suggest for my book club (we are meeting for our last brunch in the morning until Sept), preparing for the annual general meeting of The Calgary Sugarcraft Guild (I’ve been the President for the past 2 years), AND 2 days ago my mom fell and tore her Achilles tendon! So I am off this week to New York to take care of her for at least a month. Oh, then I look at the calendar and see it’s time to post my challenge. I knew what I wanted to do I just never got around to doing it!!! When I see how prepared everyone else is it makes me wonder,” will ever be ahead of schedule?” Probably not, but it’s a nice thought. Anyway, I have been busy baking today in hope of getting this done in time. I didn’t want to skip this since I love making meringue it’s just so darn versatile!
This month’s bakers challenge was brought to you by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlova and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.
I made 2 versions for this. The first was her challenge of a chocolate meringue with a chocolate marscapone mousse. Since we learned to make homemade marscapone cheese for Tiramisu back in February, that component was easy.
It also consists of creme anglaise, a custard cream used to accompany a number of desserts. It has a delicate taste, like a thin pudding. I was able to make this over the course of the day, except for the marscapone cheese, which must be made a day in advance (or you could use store-bought cheese). I added a little bit of black cocoa to my meringue (I am addicted to the stuff) so it would be extra dark, and added a touch of Frangelico to my mousse. If you would like to try this version, please go to Dawn’s site for the complete recipe.
For my second version I made a anise flavored meringue, filled it with a scoop of white chocolate marscapone mousse, and top it off with a fresh cherry sauce. I was excited for this challenge since when I was younger my sisters and I were all in the 4-H club (a sort of girl scouts group) and I clearly remember my older sister Susan, who was a young teenager at the time, making a Pavlova for a demonstration. If I remember correctly, the recipe was in my mom’s Betty Crocker cookbook. She still has that cookbook, with masking tape holding it together. When I get there later this week I must remember to look this recipe up. Anyway… my sister made the meringue in a giant heart shape and then filled it with whipped cream and topped it with a can of cherry pie filling. So, this is my homage to my sister and to Betty Crocker.
3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
1/4 tsp pure anise extract or crushed anise seeds
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper and set aside.
Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist) Add the anise extract and gently fold in.
Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 2 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days
WHITE CHOCOLATE MASCARPONE MOUSSE
1 ½ cups (355 mls) heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
9 ounces (255 grams) white chocolate, chopped (try to get the best quality you can your hands on. I used Callebaut)
1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone cheese
pinch of cardamom
2 Tbsp Pernod (or Sambuca)
Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream and the lemon zest 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.
Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and cardamom in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Pernod and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (Gently baby, do not overbeat or the mascarpone will break.)
Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova
1 1/2 C fresh or frozen cherries, pitted (reserve any cherry juice)
1/4 C granulated sugar
2 tsp corn starch, mixed with 2 Tbsp cherry juice or water
1/8 tsp almond extract
Put the cherries and the sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 3-5 minutes to dissolve the sugar. Add the corn starch/cherry juice mixture and cook for another minute, stirring constantly until thickened. Take off the heat and add the almond extract.Let cool to room temperature and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
1 cup (235 mls) whole milk
1 cup (235 mls) heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar
If you have any cherry juice left, you can add it to the sauce after cooking.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.
Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.
Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT LET THIS BOIL OR YOU WILL END UP WITH SCRAMBLED EGGS.
Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight
To Assemble: Spoon a few tablespoons of the creme anglaise on a dish. Position the meringue on top of this and fill with a generous scoop of the mousse. Finish it off with some of the cherry filling. Bon appetite!