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 was my very first Daring Baker's challenge, and I was nervous and excited to trying something so challenging for my beginning baking level. I admit that I was so geeked up about trying my first challenge, that I waited anxiously at my computer on the recipe release date and kept refreshing until the June Challenge tab popped up. I rushed to print out the recipe, and then read through it thoroughly to see what it would entail.
Then, of course, my giddiness ran into a snag: Mascarpone cheese? Cups upon cups of heavy cream? Those weren't things I could find cheaply at the local market. I mentioned to my mom that I would need a ride to the store to buy these things, and she said she would be willing to do it later. I agonizingly waited for a whole entire week. It was excruciatingly painful, let me tell you, but I finally managed to get the the supermarket and I practically sprinted to the dairy aisle to find my ingredients.
Then I baked. And baked and baked and baked, because this recipe was really involved. There were 3 separate components to make, and each one was outside the realm of my prior baking experience. First off was the chocolate meringue, which went surprisingly well. I was a little worried that my oven wouldn't be able to have a temperature low enough for it (it stops at 250 F), but it was fine. And, of course, piping the pavlova bases out was a lot of fun. I made little meringue kisses, too, because I had a feeling my brothers would like those.
While the meringue was baking, it was time to make the mousse. Never in my life have I eaten mousse, let alone make it, so I was pretty nervous. But the recipe for the mousse started out with the most wonderful ingredient that I could ever ask for: an entire bar of 72% cacao chocolate. Amazing.
I melted the chocolate and added the lemon zest (which, by the way, I would omit next time, because it gave the mousse a gritty texture and didn't add that much notiecable flavor) and Grand Marnier (I always feel so fancy when I say that with a French accent. Give a try, you know you want to).
After whipping the egg whites for the meringue, whipping the mascarpone cheese with the heavy cream didn't seem quite as daunting. As a result, the mousse went off most successfully.
The creme anglais topping also went down without a hitch, and it just so happened to be the most wonderful thing I've ever tasted in my life. Creme Anglais isn't specific to this recipe, so if you haven't ever tried it, please please PLEASE make some. It's so freaking delicious. Unfortunately, I didn't buy quite enough Mascarpone cheese to make the official challenge "Mascarpone Cream Topping", but simply drizzling the creme anglais on top of the finished pavlovas tasted excellent, too.
And that's it! I'm happy to say that my very first Daring Baker's Challenge was a complete and utter success! The one thing I would caution about if anyone out there wants to try it, is that I halved all the recipes, and still ended up with too much of everything! The meringues disappeared quickly enough, but there was so much leftover mousse and creme anglais that despite my best efforts (and believe you me, I definitely tried to eat as much as a could!), I still had to throw some of it away. If I make this again, I would use the original recipe amount for the meringue, but halve the recipes for the mousse and creme anglais.
If you do decide that this recipe looks so delicious that you want to try it out, head on over to The Daring Kitchen, where the recipe will be posted, along with pictures of other Daring Bakers' Chocolate Pavlovas!