Sunday, July 04, 2010

Marian in a Twirl

Finally, here is my first challenge with the Daring Bakers! If you are looking for a place to challenge yourself in the kitchen, look no further. Each month a new blogger is testing our resistance to kitchen tools. Well I did not let it bother me this month. My Pavlova with chocolate mascarpone mousse accompanied was eaten at full speed, right after it stroke the pose for a quick portrait.

I chose this magnificent portrait of Marian Huxley by John Collier, to chair this message. No matter how long or how many times I look at it, there's always a piece I cannot figure out. At first glance, there's this peaceful and serene profile, but behind I know it hides something else. I don't know if it comes from her gaze fixed on something outside the frame or her face placed in the shadow or her slightly retreating posture, but I'm still captivated.
The chocolate pavolva seemed suitable for her, because they have this intensity provided by the cocoa while the meringue texture shows the mild and extreme fragility. Once you capture its taste on the tongue, it evaporates. When you finally do catch the train of her thoughts, it escapes once again.

The meringue base is excellent. Crispy outside but still a bit sticky like caramel at heart, it's sufficient by itself. If you want the pavlova to be thoroughly cooked, leave it at least 3 hours. The mousse is very good as well. Mascarpone has a tendency to make it a little heavy, but as someone less inclined to cook with cream, I enjoyed it. Just know that this is not a classic airy chocolate mousse.

Equipment required: 
Baking sheet(s) with parchment or silpat 
Several bowls 
Piping bag with pastry tip 
Hand or stand mixer 

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) icing sugar 
1/3 cup (30 grams) Dutch processed cocoa powder 

1. 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. 

2. 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.

3. Sift the icing 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. 

4. 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. I wanted to make pavlovas like the flowers around her neck, so I made them by hand with a teaspoon.

5. 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 1/2 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) 

1. Put 1/2 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. 

2. 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

3. Mix about 1/4 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 
1/2 cup (120 mls) mascarpone 
2 tbsp (30 mls) Sambucca (optional) 
1/2 cup (120 mls) heavy cream 

1. 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 

1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow. 

2. Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.

3. Pour about 1/2 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. 

4. 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. 

Meringues with a spoon of Mascarpone mousse

Pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas and drizzle with the mascarpone cream over the top. Dust with icing sugar and fresh fruit if desired.  I used golden glazing to match the painting once again.

Marian Collier (born Huxley) painted by John Collier, 1883. Marian was John's first wife and was a painter as well. Unfortunately, she died from pneumonia in 1887, after the birth of their first son.

1 comment:

  1. The pictures are awesome, really! And the portrait is divine indeed.