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 was pretty excited to see the word “pavlova” in the Daring Bakers recipe this month. It’s been years since I have made a pavlova and, in fact, I have never made one from scratch (the shame!) – I always used Pavlova Magic:
According to Wikipedia, Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna pavlova Colloquially referred to as “pav”, it is a cake similar to meringue with a crispy crust and soft, light inner. The dessert is believed to have been created to honour the dancer during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. Where it was created and the nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years, but research indicates New Zealand as the source.
The “soft, light inner” part is the sticking point. Much like macarons, a pav is tricky to get just right. You don’t want it to be a total marshmallow but you don’t want it to be a rock hard meringue. Upon further inspection of the recipe, I saw it was more like a hard meringue and since I don’t like them, I took it upon myself to make an Australian pavlova – crispy on the outside, marshmallowey on the inside.
I had heard from Jamie at Life’s a Feast that Nigella does a good chocolate pav so this recipe comes from Nigella.com. I chose to make individual portions as I had company coming and read up as to how long these should cook for. I had them in the oven for around 40 minutes and, as I had read to, left them there until completely cook. I reckon they could have done with just 30 minutes as, whilst they were a bit marshmallowey, they could have been even more so. Next time I will try less time at heat. I chose to serve it with fresh rasberrry and blueberry coulis atop a dollop of coeur à la crème. It was messy but delicious (the pav top is supposed to give way and crack when you eat it so it’s not necessarily going to be the prettiest dessert but it will be tasty!
The recipe below is for one large pavlova.
Nigella’s chocolate pavlovas
For the chocolate meringue:
6 egg whites
300g caster sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sieved
1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
50g dark chocolate, finely chopped
Serving Size : Serves 8–10.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar, and the chopped chocolate. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in. Mound on to a baking sheet in a fat circle approximately 23cm in diameter, smoothing the sides and top. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 150°C/gas mark 2 and cook for about one to one and a quarter hours. When it’s ready it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but when you prod the centre you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the chocolate meringue disc cool completely.
Don’t you just LOVE how Nigella writes????
Coeur à la crème
Blend 1 8 ounce package cream cheese (at room temperature) with 1/2 cup cottage cheese (I used ricotta since that’s what I had) until creamy. Mix in 1/2 cup caster sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence.
Whip 1 1/2 cups cream until stiff, then mix into cream cheese mix. Blend until smooth. You can either set these in heart shaped molds in damp cheesecloth and turn out onto a bed of raspberry coulis, or serve in ramekins. Or if you are my sister, you eat it straight from the big bowl!
I will definitely be trying these again in an attempt to get them right and proper like a good Aussie pav!