Chocolate Marquise “Forest Floor” (Daring Bakers 2011)

May 30, 2011

Chocolate Marquise 'Forest Floor'

I know I’m a sporadic Daring Baker and I’m shamefully late with this one but I found it hard to resist this one challenge. Namely because it’s chocolate and hello! it’s one of my favourites, the Marquise. As we were told, this was a special dessert that was chosen because it’s relatively unknown and it doesn’t feature in standard cookbooks and online. From my end, I’ve seen it on many dessert menus and there are a multitude of recipes online and in mainstream cookbooks (Gordon Ramsay for one). So I’m not sure if it’s really that rare of a dessert but I do agree on one thing, it’s special and I couldn’t resist making it again. Also, advance apologies for the shoddy photos; night photography is the bane of my blogging existence!

Chocolate Marquise 'Forest Floor'

The original hosts’ recipe consisted of a spiced and tequila-ed marquise served with a mound of torched meringue, spiced nuts and tequila caramel. This time round, I reduced the meringue to a mere cameo role because I can’t stand the stuff especially when it isn’t baked. Also I wanted it to be all about the chocolate so I chose to leave the mousse plain (except for a smidgen of Grand Marnier) and I skipped the caramel and spiced nuts altogether. It was a different marquise to the one I made last year, which was in-your-face and shamelessly rich, but I really loved this one, especially straight out of the freezer.

Chocolate Marquise 'Forest Floor'
A bowl-less way of serving (hello tile!) – marquise slab dusted with cocoa

Food loving Sydneysiders would recognise the inspiration behind this dessert; the widely lauded ‘Chocolate Forest Floor’ from Sepia Restaurant. So utterly beautiful that it was featured as one of Terry Durack’s best dishes of 2010. Of course this homely version pales in comparison to theirs but consider it my humble tribute to a stunner. It was a bit crazy and time-consuming but it was a riot of different textures and flavours. Plus I was beyond thrilled that it literally looked like a bowl of dirt! And just to prove that there is actually mousse under there…

Chocolate Marquise 'Forest Floor'

I used a chocolate hazelnut soil,brown sugar, cinnamon and hazelnut crumble as dirt, dehydrated meringue crushed to look like green grassy moss, crystallised dill fronds for extra foliage and finally, shaved chocolate to look like twigs and bark. For one last zing, I also served some of it with a scoop of homemade lemon and olive oil ice cream, as I love the combo of chocolate and citrus. The marquise was delicious on its own but with all the extra ‘garden’ frills, it was simply dessert heaven.

The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of Cook Craft Grow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

Chocolate Marquise 'Forest Floor'

This is the recipe for the marquise only. To assemble the dessert;

• I used this crumble recipe as a basis for the soil and dirt (one portion left plain, another portion with cocoa powder to replace half the hazelnut meal).

• The moss is a basic meringue recipe with added green colouring, baked until completely cooked through and dry (then crushed to a rough powder).

• The dill fronds were dipped in lightly beaten egg white then dusted with caster sugar.

• The twigs were made with the same method as making chocolate curls as posted here.

• And finally the ice cream was based on my basic recipe with the passionfruit purée replaced with 100ml olive oil and finely grated zest of 2 lemons. Feel free to use whatever crumble/meringue/ice cream recipe that works for you. 

Chocolate Marquise
Makes enough to fill a 20cm square tin for 6 people
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Chocolate Base
  1. 85g good quality dark chocolate (I used Belgian Callebaut but I also recommend Valrhona)
  2. 90ml heavy whipping cream
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 1 Tbl (15ml) Grand Marnier
  5. 1 Tbl glucose syrup / light corn syrup
  6. 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  7. 1 Tbl of Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  8. 8g unsalted butter
  1. 120ml heavy whipping cream
  2. 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
  3. 1 large egg (make sure you’re using ultra fresh eggs)
  4. 40g sugar
  5. Dutch-processed cocoa powder for dusting
Chocolate Base
  1. In a pot over low gentle heat, add the chocolate and cream and warm through until chocolate has melted. Stir to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and mix once glucose syrup and butter has melted. Set aside to cool to warm while you begin the marquise.
  1. Whisk the cream until soft peaks and set aside in the fridge. Line a 20cm square tin with baking paper or clingwrap.
  2. With an electric mixer, whisk yolks, the egg and sugar in another bowl for about 8-10 minutes or until the mixture is pale and thick.
  3. Add the slightly warm chocolate base mixture to the whipped eggs (from above recipe) and gently fold through to combine.
  4. Add a quarter of the whipped cream to the chocolate mix and gently stir to lighten. Add the remaining cream and gently fold until just mixed. Be careful not to knock so much air out of the eggs.
  5. Pour into your prepared tin and give it one rap against the bench to get rid of air bubbles. Cover and freeze until firm.
  6. When ready to serve, use the baking paper to lift out the marquise. Cut frozen marquise into squares with a hot knife (wiping after each cut) and dust in cocoa powder. Only do this at the last minute before serving because it will start to melt immediately.
  1. Be sure to use very fresh eggs because this version leaves it raw so it’s not recommended for children etc. The Daring Bakers recipe uses the sugar plus 20ml water to make a hot syrup to pour into the eggs while it’s whisking (which in effect, ‘cooks’ the eggs). Check out the other daring bakers for the original recipe.
Citrus and Candy