Daring Bakers June Challenge: Chocolate Pavlovas with 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.

Once again I am late - too late. As you may see at the date of the picture, I actually made the pavlova some days before posting date but due to a congress visit I wasn't able to post it until now.
Once again the challenge was something I dealt with and failed before. Usually I buy meringue because I never get it solid enough, mostly it just deflates and becomes a mess. This time it was the best meringue I have ever made and even tasted better than the bought ones, but I never have eaten a chocolate one before. I guess the secret was that I separated the eggs a day before and let the egg whites get room temperature before starting - something someone mentioned to be important in the macaron challenge. At least, the cream and the base where delicious for themselves, but combined it was way to much chocolate for me, so I ate both separately.

Note before starting: The Crème Anglaise should be made a day before the pavlova.

Chocolate Meringue (for the chocolate Pavlova)
  • 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
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. 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.) 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.) 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 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse (for the top of the Pavlova base)
  • 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) 72% chocolate, chopped
  • 1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice, I used Contreau)
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 nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the alcohol or juice and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks (do not overbeat as the mascapone 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.

Mascarpone Cream (for drizzling)
  • 1 recipe crème anglaise
  • ½ cup (120 mls) mascarpone
  • 2 tbsp (30 mls) Sambucca (optional)
  • ½ cup (120 mls) heavy cream
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 (a component of the Mascarpone Cream above)
  • 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
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. 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.

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.

Daring Cooks June Challenge: Pâtés and Bread

Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook's challenge! They've provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

I liked this month's idea a lot. Some time ago a friend of mine brought a terrine to a party we had and I loved it - of course I nagged my boyfriend to buy me a LeCreuset terrine mould afterwards ... This friend likes to make movies and as he was thiniking about an idea for a new one I told him that I was blogging and that he maybe could make a short film about his cooking adventures which inspired him to make this little masterpiece (of course he chose the terrine I mentioned to be the subject of choice):

I chose to make two different pâtes and the French baguette which was more time consuming than I thought it would be. Thanks to the challenge I now own a porcellain terrine mould which will be used also in the future ...

Chicken Liver Terrine
slightly adapted from Stéphane Reynaud's Terrine

Yields one 25 by 12,5 cm (10 by 5 inch) terrine or loaf pan
  • 1 tbsp duck fat, or butter
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 300g (11 oz) chicken livers, trimmed
  • 3 tbsp brandy, or any other liqueur (optional)
  • 100g (3 1/2 oz, 1/2 cup) smoked bacon, diced
  • 300g (11 oz) boneless pork belly, coarsely ground
  • 200g (7 oz) boneless pork blade (shoulder), coarsely ground (or ground pork see note below)
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 tsp quatre-épices (or 1/4tsp each of ground pepper, cloves, nutmeg and ginger is close enough)
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz, 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) heavy cream
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
If you cannot find ground pork belly or blade, buy it whole, cut it into chunks, and pulse in the food processor. You can also replace the pork blade with regular ground pork (that is what I did). I don't own a food processor which is strong enough to cut meat, so I used an old meat mincing machine - that is why I got a more coarse result.
Preheat oven to 200ºC (400ºF, Gas Mark 6). Melt the fat or butter in a heavy frying pan over low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the chicken livers and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until browned but still slightly pink on the inside.Remove the pan from heat. Pour in the brandy, light a match and carefully ignite the alcohol to flambé. Wait for the flames to go out on their own, carefully tilting the pan to ensure even flavoring. Set aside. Put the minced pork belly and blade in a food processor, then add the onion-liver mixture and the chopped shallots, and pulse until you obtain a homogenous mixture - make sure not to reduce it to a slurry.Transfer to a bowl, and gradually stir in the chopped bacon, quatre-épices, cream, eggs, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper, and mix well. Spoon the mixture into a terrine or loaf pan, and cover with the terrine lid or with aluminum foil. Prepare a water bath: place the loaf pan in a larger, deep ovenproof dish (such as a brownie pan or a baking dish). Bring some water to a simmer and carefully pour it in the larger dish. The water should reach approximately halfway up the loaf pan. Put the water bath and the loaf pan in the oven, and bake for 2 hours. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes. The terrine should be cooked through, and you should be able to slice into it with a knife and leave a mark, but it shouldn't be too dry. Refrigerate, as this pâté needs to be served cold. Unmold onto a serving platter, cut into slices, and serve with bread.

Note: This pâté freezes well. Divide it into manageable portions, wrap tightly in plastic film, put in a freezer Ziploc bag, and freeze. Defrost overnight in the fridge before eating. - I made this pâte two weeks ago, ate some and froze the rest - for the pictures I defrostet two slices and they nearly tasted the same compared to the fresh pâte.

Trout and Shrimp Pâté

Yields one 6x3 inch (15x7,5 cm) terrine or loaf pan
  • 1 tbsp / 15 ml butter
  • 1/4 lb / 4 oz / 120g medium raw shrimp, deveined, shelled and tailed (about 12 medium shrimp)
  • 1/8 cup / 30ml Grand Marnier (or cognac, I used Contreau) (optional)
  • 1/2 lb / 8 oz / 240g trout filet, skinned and cut into thick chunks
  • 1/4 lb / 4 oz / 110g raw shrimp, deveined, shelled and tailed (any size)
  • 3/4 cup / 180ml heavy cream
  • Salt, to taste
  • Green peppercorn, coarsely ground, to taste
  • Chives, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC). In a heavy, flameproof frying pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Sauté the 1/4 pound of medium shrimp, stirring often, until pink and cooked through. Remove the pan from heat. (These shrimp will be used to form layers within your pâté. If you feel they are too thick - you might want to slice them in half lengthwise.) Pour the Grand Marnier over the cooked shrimp. Light a match and carefully ignite the alcohol, to flambé the shrimp. Wait for the flames to go out on their own, carefully tilting the pan to ensure even flavoring. Set aside. Put the trout and the remaining raw shrimp in a food processor and pulse. Gradually pour in the cream and keep pulsing until you obtain a smooth mixture that is easy to spread, but not too liquid (you may not need to use all the cream). Season with salt and green pepper. Butter a 6x3 inch (15x7,5 cm) loaf pan or terrine, then line it with parchment paper. Spoon in half the trout mixture, and spread it evenly. Place the flambéed shrimp on top, in an even layer, reserving 3 or 4 shrimp for decorating. Top with the remaining trout mixture.Prepare a water bath: place the loaf pan in a larger, deep ovenproof dish (such as a brownie pan or a baking dish). Bring some water to a simmer and carefully pour it in the larger dish. The water should reach approximately halfway up the loaf pan. Put the water bath and terrine in the oven, and bake for 35 minutes. The pâté should be cooked through and firm in the center.

Unfortunately I couldn't find ready prepared raw trout filet, so I had to buy whole fishes and filet myself - a little bit disgusting, I don't like my food starring at me ...

French Baguette
from King Arthur Flour

yield: Three 16" baguettes

  • 1/2 cup / 120 ml cool water
  • 1/16 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup / 240 ml flour
  • 1 tsp / 5 ml active dry yeast
  • 1 cup to 1 1/4 cups / 240 ml to 300 ml lukewarm water
  • all of the starter
  • 3 1/2 cups / 840 ml flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp / 7 ml salt
Make the starter by mixing the yeast with the water, then mixing in the flour to make a soft dough. Cover and let rest at room temperature for about 14 hours; overnight works well. The starter should have risen and become bubbly. Mix active dry yeast with the water and then combine with the starter, flour, and salt. Mix and knead everything together-by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle-till you've made a soft, somewhat smooth dough; it should be cohesive, but the surface may still be a bit rough. Knead for about 5 minutes on speed 2 of a stand mixer. Place the dough in a lightly greased medium-size bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 3 hours, gently deflating it and turning it over after 1 hour, and then again after 2 hours. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a rough, slightly flattened oval, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let them rest for 15 minutes. Working with one piece of dough at a time, fold the dough in half lengthwise, and seal the edges with the heel of your hand. Flatten it slightly, and fold and seal again. With the seam-side down, cup your fingers and gently roll the dough into a 15" log. Place the logs seam-side down onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined sheet pan or pans. Cover them with a cover or lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the loaves to rise till they've become very puffy, about 1 1/2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450ºF (240ºC). Using a very sharp knife held at about a 45° angle, make three 8" vertical slashes in each baguette. Spritz the baguettes heavily with warm water; this will help them develop a crackly-crisp crust. Bake the baguettes until they're a very deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack. Or, for the very crispiest baguettes, turn off the oven, crack it open about 2", and allow the baguettes to cool in the oven.

Making this takes time. More than I thougt. So if you are planning to bake baguettes, start early. There are lots of videos with recipes at YouTube where you can find several way of making them - the dough always has to rest at some points during the process, just have a look and decide which method suits your routine best.

Today we finally had our French 'lunch' with the two pâtes, the baguette(s) and some fresh salad. I really enjoyed it!