Daring Bakers: Pavlova Fun

Or maybe that should be Pavlova fungi . . . . Because I made meringue mushrooms with chocolate mousse truffles!

Obligatory blog checking lines: 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.

To make the mushrooms, I piped the meringue following instructions in Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts (recipe is also in her first cookbook, as well). Maida Heatter is a genius. She won an award for originality with these meringue mushrooms at a culinary Olympics, way back when. (Okay, I know she did not invent the meringue mushroom, but she did popularize it with her version.)

First you pipe the stems and the caps. Then you dust them with cocoa.

When the meringue has cooled, you spread melted chocolate on the bottom of the caps to glue the two parts together. If you use compound chocolate or properly tempered chocolate, the parts will glue together nicely.

The charming thing about this technique is that the mushrooms look nice even if (like me) your piped caps look less than perfect. Somehow, the sum is greater than the slightly defective parts.

Another great thing: the texture of the mushroom is not crisp throughout. Rather, it has a thin layer of crispiness on the outside, and the interior of the cap and stem is marshmallow-ey. And it stays like this for days.

But, what about the rest of the recipe, you ask?

Well, I made the mousse dairy-free, using Rich’s Whip, Schmerling 70% chocolate, and Tofutti Sour Supreme. I made the mascarpone crème anglaise sauce dairy-free, as well, using Rich’s Whip, soy milk, and Tofutti Sour Supreme. For plating with the mushrooms, I rolled the mousse into a truffle and then rolled it around in the crushed meringue and cocoa left on the baking sheets after I removed the meringues. I left the sauce off the plate, but I would have drizzled it on if I were about to serve it.

What I could have done to make it more pavlova like: leave some caps stemless and pipe the mousse on top, with sauce drizzled over–faux stuffed mushrooms.

I also made an attempt at a swan. My original idea was to construct the swan with a white chocolate mousse, but, well, that just didn’t happen. The below picture mostly just demonstrates that I actually made the mascarpone sauce (or, rather, a dairy-free version).

Oh, well. The swan idea is a good one, especially for anything named for the ballerina Anna Pavlova.

(She was famous for dancing the Dying Swan. My grandmother remembered seeing her perform this dance, and it was a vivid memory to her three quarters of a century later. Amazingly, thanks to YouTube, you can see it, too.)

I just needed to put a little more work into perfecting the execution of this idea. Like this (made a couple of days later):

Anyway . . . I loved my mushrooms:

Chocolate Meringue
 
 3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) Dutch processed cocoa powder ( I used the cocoa for dusting the mushrooms)
 
 
1. 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 and set aside.
2. 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.)
3. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)
4. 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.
5. Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
 
Note: for the mushrooms, you need to pipe stems and caps. Dust the piped pieces with cocoa. When the pieces are cool, use a sharp knife to flatten the tops of the stems. Spread a thin layer of chocolate on the bottom of the caps and attach the stems. Let the chocolate harden with the mushrooms cradled (cap side down) in an empty egg carton.
 
Another Note: for the mushrooms, you can bake the meringues at 225 degrees for an hour and then let cool in the oven if you want the marshmallow effect. You can bake them longer, at the 200 degrees suggested above, for the 2-3 hours also suggested above, but I am not sure that they will be marshmallow-ey inside. Instead, the might get crisp all the way through, which some people like better.
 
Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse
1 ½ cups (355 mls) heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent) (I used Rich’s Whip)
grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
9 ounces (255 grams) 72% chocolate, chopped
1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone (I used Tofutti Sour Supreme)
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice)

1. 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.

2. Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)
3. 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.
 
 Mascarpone Cream
1 recipe crème anglaise
½ cup (120 mls) mascarpone (I used Tofutti Sour Supreme)
2 tbsp (30 mls) Sambucca (optional)
½ cup (120 mls) heavy cream (Rich’s Whip)
1. Prepare the crème anglaise. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and the Sambucca and let the mixture cool. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.
 
 Crème Anglaise
1 cup (235 mls) whole milk (I used soy milk)
1 cup (235 mls) heavy cream (I used Rich’s Whip)
1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (I used Vanilla Bean Paste)
6 large egg yolks
6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar
1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.2. Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat. .
3. 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 OVERCOOK.
4. 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.
Assembly: Pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas and drizzle with the mascarpone cream over the top. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and fresh fruit if desired.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

2. Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat. .
3. 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 OVERCOOK.
4. 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.

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30 Responses to “Daring Bakers: Pavlova Fun”

  1. A Swan for Pavlova « Pragmatic Attic Says:

    [...] lot of this and that . . . . « Seitan Success! And Horizons Restaurant BBQ Seitan Daring Bakers: Pavlova Fun [...]

  2. Audax Artifex Says:

    OMG OMG OMG this is the most amazing post I have seen your mushroom look divine but I really like the swan the most. What stunning results you got I’m glob smacked outstanding work on this challenge. KUDOS you really had FUN doing this challenge didn’t you. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  3. Rosa Says:

    Very cute meringues! I really love the mushrooms. Great job!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  4. chef_d Says:

    Great job! I love the mushrooms, you’re the only one who thought of presenting it this way. They look cute!

  5. Kim Says:

    Those mushrooms are so cute! What a great presentation of meringue. Nice job on the challenge!

  6. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella Says:

    Aww that’s so cute! I love your mushrooms and your swan! I saw them on the DB site and thought “how clever!”

  7. shaz Says:

    Oh how cute! I love the mushrooms. And that swan is so delicate – is that a lake of blueberries? Very clever. Great interpretation of the challenge, and so impressed you managed to make it dairy-free too.

  8. Aparna Says:

    Your swan is beautiful but as far as I am concerned those mushroom are the masterpiece! :)

  9. Nachiketa Says:

    oh my good lord…. u deserve a huge salute…. totally amazing DB…..
    brilliant, must say… :)

    cheers,
    The Variable, Crazy Over Desserts – Nachiketa
    Catch me on facebook @ Crazy Over Desserts

  10. Denise@There's a Newf in My Soup! Says:

    Ok, you are the Queen of Creativity! Absolutely magnificent! The mushrooms look so real…

  11. Jen Says:

    Wow. Those mushrooms are fabulous! I would never had thought that was even possible. Great job!

  12. Jeanne Says:

    The mushrooms are brilliant! I love how much creativity you used with this challenge, from the mushrooms to the swans!

  13. Marty Thyme Says:

    No, I refuse to believe that those are NOT actual mushrooms! They’re wonderful!

  14. lisamichele Says:

    What a fantastically unique and lovely take on this challenge! I love making meringue mushroooms to stick around Yule Log cakes during the holidays, but add a chocolate mousse truffle..and wow! Also love your GORGEOUS swans! You work magic with a pastry bag, my dear..and they look delicious!

  15. deeba Says:

    Love your take on the challenge and am in love with the meringue mushrooms too! Utterly charming. Well done indeed! WOW!!

  16. Barbara Bakes Says:

    I love your mushrooms too. What a fabulous idea. I may have to borrow it one day. Great job on this challenge!

  17. Julie M. Says:

    Ok, this has to be the COOLEST meringue I’ve ever seen! I love love love the mushrooms! And that swan!! Awesome job on the challenge!

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