Sunday, June 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' June Challenge - Chocolate Pavlova

“That looked like an easy challenge,” said Laurent as he took another bite of dessert.

He was more or less correct. It wasn’t that this month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge had been easy (although it was definitely less work than several previous ones), it was more that I had approached it with a much more relaxed attitude than usual.

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

A lot has been going on these past couple of weeks. We came home from Japan, only to find our apartment a complete mess. We had been warned beforehand: our building had discovered a bed bug problem in several apartments, and had ordered several measures, which Laurent’s parents had carried out in our absence. All our clothes had been taken out of the closets and drawers, and had been put into plastic bags. The furniture had been moved around, and our mattress had been thrown out (with our permission). So it took a few days before we were able to really settle back in.

And then, there have been several things to catch up on: school, a translation job, and my best friend’s wedding coming up very soon. I also had to get used to cooking again. It sounds strange, but a month without touching a whisk or a skillet can really take its toll on you. It was like getting to know my kitchen all over again.

Since we do have to eat dinner every evening, I got back into cooking fairly quickly. But when I tackled this challenge, I hadn’t baked anything sweet in a very long time. I decided to keep a “que sera sera” attitude about the whole process.

I’ve made meringue before, but never pavlova, although I had heard about this dessert. There were several components, but none of them seemed too daunting. And really, it all came together beautifully. It’s possible my chocolate meringue was overbaked, but I like it crispy. At first, I was somewhat afraid that my chocolate mascarpone mousse would be too liquid, but it ended up setting nicely – in fact, the next day, it was actually a bit too hard!

The part I was most skeptical about was the mascarpone cream. When I saw that it consisted of crème anglaise, mascarpone and heavy cream, I thought: “This is going to be the heaviest thing in the world!” But I gave it a chance and followed the recipe (although I halved it, as I had the mousse recipe), and it actually turned out to have a very light texture.

The combination of all the elements was excellent. The sweet, crispy meringue, the slightly bitter mousse, and the ethereal cream made each mouthful a delight.

So thank you, Dawn, for this laid-back, delicious challenge!


  1. Oh geez, bed bug...been there this winter. Same as you from building.

    Well I am glad you got to finally get back into your kitchen and find a zen place to complete this challenge so beautifully.

    Tea soon after my vacation? Want to hear about your trip

  2. Cant believe you still managed to make such a beautiful pavlova despite the bed bug problem in your apartment! Must've been a busy and tiring couple of days moving stuff around after a long trip from japan. But glad you're back and baking/cooking. Hope to see more posts about your trip!

  3. Ugh, bed bugs. A friend just went through those. They're no fun.

    Love the heart shape you made! Great job!

  4. Great job overcoming the odds on this one! Your pavlova looks delicious!

  5. Your pavlova looks wonderful! I was a bit skeptical about the sauce too, and I skipped the whipped cream, but I loved it. Bedbugs sound like a nightmare--poor you! What a welcome home--hope it's all okay now.

  6. Bedbugs yuck good to hear that is over and while you were away - great on your parents. It looks so professional and you piping skills are superb well done on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia. Lovely photos also.

  7. Welcome back in the land of cooking & baking! Yeah!

    That's too bad of the bugs!!!
    But your chocolate pavlova looks tremendously tasty, dear Valérie!

  8. You did a great job with this challenge, especially when you consider the things you had to overcome. It looks delicious. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

  9. such well piped pavs.... :)

    even i did heart shaped ones... but piping is where i still need to get to....

    The Variable, Crazy Over Desserts - Nachiketa
    Catch me on facebook @ Crazy Over Desserts

  10. Bed bugs, school, work, a wedding, a trip to Japan, and you still managed to take part in the pavlova challenge and turn out a gorgeous and yummy looking heat shaped masterpeice. Multitasker and grace under pressure is an understatement! Fantastic job as always, Val!

  11. O my, that sounds like a horrible situation to come home too. Well, it was probably solved but the mess wouldn't really make you happy I would guess! Your pavlova on the other hand would make me extremely happy, so please ship some my way!

  12. Hope you are over the bed bug problem once and for all....

    It is ammazing that despite the mess you could still pull out such beautiful pavlova! Very special shape and presentation :-)

    Sawadee from Bangkok,