Chocolate Pots de Crème with vanilla chantilly and brown sugar meringue
I’m sure fellow Aussies/New Zealanders would understand my confusion when I first checked this month’s Daring Bakers challenge, which listed Chocolate ‘Pavlovas’ with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. What I saw from the challenge photos were in Australian culture, meringues. As in baked-all-the-way-through crispy meringues.
In case you were wondering, pavlovas are usually more of a thick meringue cake with a crispy exterior and squidgy marshmallowy centre and traditionally topped with whipped cream and fruit. But whichever name it went by, the challenge meant another attack on my egg white stash, which has now thankfully wilted down to 9. Yes that’s right folks, my notorious 64 egg white hoard has officially disappeared to more deserving hands and I feel almost 2kg lighter!
Crumbled palm sugar meringue on roasted pineapple with a palm sugar and coconut caramel, white tapioca pearls and burnt honey ice cream
Now I confess, I have a weird relationship with meringue. I don’t hate it but I don’t like it either. And I’m not a fan of marscarpone unless it was blindingly disguised with coffee and an obscene amount of liqueur a la Tiramisu. So I admit, the host’s recipe, originally by Francois Payard, just didn’t appeal to me so I had to find a way to incorporate the essence of the challenge – meringue and something uh, creamy – into a dessert that’s not going to scare my fickle tastebuds.
First I was inspired by a recent dessert of Brown Sugar Pavlova that I had at Mumu Grill in Sydney, which so far, has been the only time I ate pavlova and actually liked it. And then with the onset of depressing blistering weather, I was desperate for a taste of summer so I thought I’d try out a meringue made with palm sugar or gula melaka. Sounded good on paper until I took out my rock hard palm sugar cylinders, which were more lethal stone weaponry than anything edible. But the cold weather can only mean that the sugar was in no danger of softening or melting so out came my weapon par excellence – my microplane grater. I worked my chicken arms right off grating enough for the recipe and then I whizzed it through the food processor to get it ultra fine and then partied on.
So with the Palm Sugar meringues, I crumbled it and sprinkled it over roasted caramelised pineapple batons, a palm sugar and coconut caramel slick, white tapioca pearls and a scoop of burnt honey ice cream (that would be the weird, melting gulag sitting atop the pineapple). The pineapple was roasted by sprinkling it with brown sugar and chucking it in the oven until it’s burnished and golden. Unfortunately at that moment, my dog decided to give me a hard time so I forgot about it for 5 minutes and it got a little too browned on the bottom. Oops! Anyhow, the refreshing tartness of the fruit was heavenly with its sweet acompaniments and the palm sugar gave both the meringue and caramel a warm toasty flavour. Plus the tapioca pearls were just too fun – sticky, gelatinous, toothsome – it’s a chewy party in my mouth! Next time though, I think a coconut ice cream would give it a more summery kick, rather than the burnt honey. Nevertheless, it’s deliciously tropical.
Now if you had to separate fresh eggs, what to do with the leftover egg yolks? Simple! No-bake pot de crèmes or chocolate pots, which you can top with a vanilla chantilly and meringue ‘nub’ (heh I like that word now… nub). With this batch, I couldn’t be arsed grating any more palm so I replaced it with average-joe brown sugar a la Mumu and a hit of orange rind (hello Microplane, how I love thee!). These chocolate pots are smoother, richer and denser than your average mousse but bear in mind, that the yolks aren’t cooked in it so be sure to use the freshest eggs as possible (unless you really shouldn’t have raw eggs. Er, in that case, skip it altogether).
The original challenge recipe is after the jump in case you wanted to see it. To make the brown sugar or palm sugar version, just omit the cocoa and cornstarch, replace 70g of the white sugar with brown/palm sugar and fold in a dash of vanilla (purely optional). I’ll also leave you with the recipe for the burnt honey ice cream and chocolate pot du crèmes, just so you can try it for yourself, if you like.
Cheers to the host because what this challenge did do was incite me to actually get off my arse and make meringue for the first time. Though I did enjoy it to an extent, I just don’t find myself craving it in any shape or form. Sadly, what also happened was the whisk attachment of my hand mixer broke while I was whipping it and it sprayed meringue all over the kitchen. SIGH. We’re just not meant to be, aren’t we?
Chocolate Pots de Crème
Adapted from Michel Roux
225g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
3 egg yolks (from the Daring Bakers Meringue recipe below)
1.5 Tbl (22.5ml) liquid glucose / glucose syrup / light corn syrup
3 Tbl (45ml) warm water
225ml double cream
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over gently simmering water (making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water).
Mix the glucose and the 2 Tbl warm water to the egg yolks, then mix into the melted chocolate.
In a separate bowl, whip the cream until it has reached ribbon consistency and gently fold into the chocolate mixture, without overmixing.
Pour into the glasses or ramekins and refrigerate for about an hour berfore serving. If it has chilled for too long, sit at room temperature for around 30 minutes prior to serving. Top with extra cream and brown sugar meringue if you wish (recipe below).
Burnt Honey Ice cream
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
600ml pouring cream (35% fat content)
6 egg yolks
30g caster sugar
Cook honey in a heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat until caramelised (about 7-8 minutes). Remove from heat, add the cream and milk (be careful because the mixture will spit and foam up), then return to the heat and stir until it just comes to the boil.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale and thickened. Pour cream mixture over and whisk to combine.
Return to pan and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon (6-7 minutes). Strain into a bowl placed over ice and cool completely, then freeze in an ice-cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Makes about 1 litre.
As written by Daring Bakers…
Recipe 1: Chocolate Meringue (for the chocolate Pavlova)
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
1/4 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. (Class made rounds, hearts, diamonds and an attempt at a clover was made!)
Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Recipe 2: Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse (for the top of the Pavlova base)
1.5 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)
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 Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE 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.
Recipe 3: 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.
Recipe 4: 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.