Before I started blogging, I would always turn to the same recipes when I was asked to bake something. The same chocolate cookies, the same lemon bars, and the same chocolate cupcakes. There was no doubt that theses recipes got worn out after some time, but they were “tried-and-true”, so I stuck with them. I hadn’t yet been exposed to the wonderful world of food blogs, bursting with recipes and creativity, so it was no surprise that the said recipes made a frequent appearance at our house. Eventually, I did tire of them, and I decided that it was time to thoroughly explore the “blogosphere” in hope that I would find new recipes to keep me busy.
When I first started my blog, I was overwhelmed by the possibilities of things I could bake. There are so many great recipes out there that it sometimes is hard for me not to stick to one category – ice creams, for example- and write post after post about it as a way to escape the huge quantities of recipes. But there are also so many recipes for each category of desserts that I sometimes get lost. My blog has forced me to open up to a variety of recipes, and I am thankful for that. It is much easier finding new recipes to bake knowing that I am doing it not only for myself, but for you, too. And it is so much more interesting trying out different kinds of recipes rather than sticking to just one category.
The Daring Bakers have also helped me branch out and try different desserts. I made a croquembouche last month, something that I would never have made if it weren’t for them. While I love making desserts that require patience and time, I wouldn’t have chosen to make a croquembouche as of my own accord. 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. Unlike last month’s challenge, this one was more familiar, as I had made meringues and pavlovas countless times before.
I searched my calendar minutes after reading about the new challenge, looking for the perfect date to make them. Two of my closest friends, J- and S-, were moving away in a couple of weeks, and we were going to throw a last party for them. The pavlovas would be a great complement to the filling dinner we were serving. I just had to come up with a way to serve them. And the next day, miraculously, I read this post. Pavlova cupcakes sounded – and looked – to cute to pass up. I got to work a couple of days before the party, making the mousse and the mascarpone cream. Everything went by perfectly. My guests liked them, and they were just as cute as I imagined. I remembered to take lots of pictures before serving them, but I don’t have them here to show you.
Unfortunately, I forgot to download them onto the computer before leaving to a music recital. My parents had to erase them (not knowing that I hadn’t downloaded them), to make room on the camera for pictures of the recital. So I had to make them again, this time as ordinary pavlovas which tasted just as good, if not better, with the addition of raspberry ice cream.
(PS: I’m very sorry for the lack of posts; I truly do not have any excuses, seeing that I am on summer vacation. I’ve just been enjoying the free time I have, and making lots of ice cream).
Chocolate Meringue (for the chocolate Pavlova): (I chose to make plain pavlovas because I thought it would be too chocolate-y paired with the mousse).
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) 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
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 (don’t forget we made this a few months ago – get the printable .pdf HERE)
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice)
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. DO NOT OVERCOOK. 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.
Raspberry Ice Cream
Recipe from David Lebovitz’s ‘The Perfect Scoop’,
1½ cups (375ml) of half-and-half
1 cup (200g) caster sugar
1½ cups (375ml) heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1½ cups (375ml) strained raspberry puree
1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Warm the half-and-half (or alternative) and sugar in a medium saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
- Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Mix in the raspberry puree and lemon juice, then stir until cool over an ice bath.
- Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator, but to preserve the fresh raspberry taste, churn the ice cream within 4 hours after making the mixture.