The Daring Baker’s Challenge: Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate 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.

I struggled with this challenge.  Not because it was difficult but because I’m not feeling well right now and I’m really cranky.  It definitely colored my opinion of this recipe.  I feel bad, but I ended up hating this recipe so much that I didn’t even want to write about it. I haven’t even wanted to eat it. So this post is a week late, but it’s been hanging over my head, so let’s get this over with.

When I was a kid I took art lessons. When I was working on something, I always wanted to keep reworking it until I was satisfied with it . . . which was never going to happen.  My art teacher liked to remind me about an artist who could never resist adding one more thing, one more thing, one more thing . . . until the piece was ruined.  He needed another person to take the work away from him and tell him enough was enough. Or it’s like editing an outfit’s accessories before you go out. Look at yourself in the mirror and remove one element.

I feel like the sauce and mousse recipes could each lose at least one element.

The chocolate mousse is flavored with both lemon zest and Grand Marnier, and nutmeg.  I should have left out the Grand Marnier. Although, come to think of it, I would have added some sugar. The mousse was made with 72% cacao with no added sweetening. I have a ferocious sweet tooth.

The marscapone sauce is a creme Anglaise blended with marscapone, whipped cream, and Sambucca. Thank goodness I did leave out the Sambucca. A licorice flavored sauce would have sent me over the edge.

Apropos of nothing, the creme Anglaise sauce recipe calls for whisking the egg yolks with the sugar until they are light yellow. I just thought it would be interesting to show the difference between whisking by hand and beating with a hand mixer. Save your arm and use the mixer.

The meringues were straightforward, although I lost track of the fact that I was making a Pavlova. I wish I had made my shapes more shell-like.

When chilled, the mousse was dry and crumbly. I decided to practice making quenelles, but without being too explicit, this just wasn’t the ideal shape for chocolate mousse.

In the end, no one wanted to eat it, but this was a really expensive recipe to make, so I threw the mousse, some creme Anglaise, and powdered sugar into the mixer and whipped it until it was really creamy, poured it into a graham cracker crust, and made chocolate cream pie.

Next month will be better. If you want to check out the recipe for yourself here it is.

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