So what is a pavlova? It's a meringue based dessert that was named Anna Pavlova, a famous Russian ballerina. It has a crispy crust with a soft interior that is akin to marshmallow. Australia and New Zealand have been arguing for years over who created the dessert first, but most of the research points to NZ. Either way, whoever is responsible created one heck of a yummy and elegant dessert! The version here is chocolate flavored with a chocolate mascarpone mousse on top. There are technically four components: the pavlova, the mascarpone mousse, the mascarpone to make the mousse, and a creme anglaise (which is a type of vanilla pastry cream). This is my version:
You know you want some!
Now before we get started, I have a confession to make. What with my busy schedule this month, I only got around to actually making the pavlovas themselves. I did not make the mascarpone mousse or other components because I simply ran out of time (I mastered the mascarpone recipe back in February when we did the tiramisu, so I don't really consider that a challenge, per se). However, I can vouch that the pavlovas are delightful when mixed with a little bit of whipped cream and some chocolate sauce!
Here are the individual recipes, along with construction instructions:
3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) 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 confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the whites (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 (Dawn notes that you can make whatever shape you want).
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.
Some food for thought...
- I piped my pavlovas a bit thinner than I think I was supposed to and they only took an hour and a half to bake all the way through.
- I'd highly recommend making a couple of small pavlovas for testing. You won't know by looking at them if they're fully baked!
Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse (for the top of the Pavlova base)
1½ c (355 mL) heavy cream
grated zest of 1 lemon
9 oz (255 g) 72% chocolate, chopped
1 2/3 cups (390 mL) mascarpone
pinch of nutmeg or allspice
2 tbsp (30 mL) Grand Marnier or orange juice
1. Put ½ cup (120 mL) 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 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. Drizzle the cream anglaise on top, and voila!
Hope you enjoy!