Saturday, May 28, 2011

Daring Bakers' May Challenge - Chocolate Marquise on Meringue

Finally, I can post again! I've been having some tech issues, and it turns out Internet Explorer 9 was to blame. "Compatibility view" were the magic words, this time.

So, without further ado:

The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow 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.

This challenge was pretty intimidating at first glance: lots of components, some of which appeared to require many, many steps. A semi-frozen chocolate concoction served atop a pillow of torched meringue, drizzled with flavoured caramel and served with spiced caramelized nuts. All of it homemade.

Not only that, but the recipe looked absolutely huge. Eleven egg yolks plus four whole eggs just for the marquise part? I was reluctant to try a new recipe when so many ingredients were at stake: what a waste if it were to fail! But the incredible Audax was kind enough to do the math for everyone and provide us all with half and quarter recipes. The quarter version was just right for me.

I think I was most excited about using a blowtorch for the first time. I didn't have one, but I knew where to borrow one. Predictably, the meringue browned almost instantly, so I didn't get to play for very long, but it was fun while it lasted. I felt a bit guilty enjoying it so much, as I had just finished reading Gabrielle Hamilton's memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter. When she mentions the years she spent working in the catering business, cooking trendy (read: pretentious) morsels from which she resolutely steered away when she opened her own restaurant, she cites using a blowtorch as one of the symbols of the kind of cooking she never wanted to do again.

But, as Laurent wisely reminded me, neither of us are Gabrielle Hamilton, nor have we been cooking as long or as intensively. So, I will continue to gleefully shriek "Burn, baby, burn!" the next few times I use a blowtorch.

Right, so, on with the other components. The most uncertain one, for me, was the marquise itself. Having never made nor tasted one, I had no idea how it was supposed to look before being frozen. Was my mixture too thick, too runny? Was my syrup hot enough, were the eggs sufficiently fluffy? Then, when I cut squares out of the frozen chocolaty block a couple of days later, I wondered if it would thaw properly, or if it would just melt like ice cream and end up in a puddle on top of my meringue.

I needen't have worried: the marquise was silky smooth on the tongue, and, honestly, worth the effort. I spiked it with Triple Sec (orange liqueur) instead of the suggested tequila, and added some lemon zest as well. I will never get tired of chocolate and citrus.

The salty caramel and the sweet, slightly spicy nuts were also great additions to this dessert. This is something I would make again when I need to impress people. And, while it's quite a bit of work, you can spread it out over a few days, even make the marquise weeks ahead and freeze it.

You can find the challenge recipes here. Don't forget to look at the other Daring Bakers' blogs, to be amazed and inspired!


  1. Valerie, seeing your gorgeous marquise, I wish I hadn't eaten all the chocolate I bought for it and took part! It looks a plate from a Michelin star restaurannt! Bravo!! Beautiful!

    On a macaron note, I sprink;ed the salt on lightly when the macs were almost dry. I also used pretzel salt, which remains on the surface and doesn't sink in. Maybe that's the reason?

  2. Using a torch is great fun, isn't it? I was so happy to get mine out again for this challenge. Your plate looks lovely, and I like the citrus flavour you added. I've been wanting to read the Gabrielle Hamilton book--did you enjoy it?

  3. It seems everyone favorite part of this challenge was the blowtorch!:) Your marquise looks very delicious. I love citrus and chocolate too. Best, Sandie

  4. Ooo, your marquise and meringue both look utterly perfect. Yum!

  5. I love my kitchen torch! There is definitely nothing wrong with enjoying that part of the cooking process. I've even lit birthday candles with one. :D

  6. I thing you did a splendid job on the challenge even if it had so many steps and incurred a bit of fear. I still have not bought a blowtorch but you are making me want one again!

  7., wow, wow!! I am simply blown away by all the 5 star looking Marquise's, and yours is just stunning!! I love super step laden recipes, but couldn't manage the time for this one :( Oh, well..I can gawk at yours :)