Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Tower of Sweetness in the Land of St. Honore'

Whoops! Missed the posting date for the Daring Bakers, even though the challenge was done and the post mostly finished...just blame it on the bathroom remodel. Things progress, although slowly. Will post a photo when all is finished...at this moment it seems like that will be Christmas, but actually will be much sooner.

So, return with me now to the Land of St. Honore' for the delayed, but still delicious Daring Bakers challenge for June, 2010....

Once upon a time in the land of St. Honore’, the duchess had guests coming for dessert. First she said, “I think I’ll make a lovely, light, luscious, delectable cake.” But the thought about it and decided she was tired of cake. “There must be some other treat that I could bake” she thought. Since she had a nice new bottle of dessert port and a yen for chocolate, plus a sturdy stand mixer, she decided to focus on eggs, cream and chocolate.

“Well given those things, I think I will try, a lovely, light, luscious, delectable pie.” She found a recipe for Angel Pie with a meringue crust and chocolate mousse filling. Still, it somehow still didn’t sound like what she wanted to make.

“I think I’ll make something without any flour; a lovely, light, luscious, delectable tower…with strawberries since it’s Spring.” Now she had the idea for the perfect dessert…and a showstopper, too.

First she made pavlovas, crisp discs of cocoa infused meringue. Three egg whites worth made four good sized discs. Her stand mixer got a good workout. The chocolate being folded into the whipped egg whites and sugar looked so pretty!

Then she made a luscious chocolate mousse, giving her stand mixer a good workout again with all the whipping she did.

There was some heavy cream in the fridge, so some of that got the stand mixer whipping treatment for embellishment.

Most important of all were the two pints of glorious freshly picked strawberries, sweet, juicy, fragrant, the soul of spring. She hulled them and sliced them into a bowl and let them sit and release their juices.

Now the fun began! On a footed cake plate she placed a chocolate pavlova disc. On top she spread chocolate mousse quickly covered with a generous amount of the fresh strawberries. The same process was repeated three times which gave her an impressive stacked tower of chocolate-strawberry goodness. A dollop of whipped cream on top finished it off.

She had invited friends over for dessert. The port wine perfectly complimented the decadent dessert and there was coffee, too, to ward off the evening chill that began at sunset. With the garden setting and half moon rising in the sky it was hard to imagine a better way to end the day, cheered by stories and laughter, warmed by wine and friendship, and delighted by chocolate pavlovas and strawberries.

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. You can find the recipe at Dawn's blog. You can check out the Daring Baker's blogroll to see all the amazing pavlovas created this month!

I had a great time making this dessert, although I wasn’t entirely faithful to the challenge. I made the pavolova discs exactly as described in the recipe. In case you were wondering, it doesn’t help to have added the confectioners sugar to the regular sugar and then try to whip the egg whites with added sugar mixture. I didn’t read the recipe well and that was my first batch…the egg whites never did rise or get firm. Second time worked like a charm.

Amazing how using the recipe helps with the results!

Where I went off track was the mousse. Not a big fan of mascarpone and since I already had a go at making it with the Daring Bakers, I decided to do a different chocolate mousse. Unfortunately time got away from me and the duchess’s guests were going to arrive and expected a dessert toot sweet. I was feeling frantic, so I threw together some ingredients I thought would produce a mousse like texture, although I had never made whipped ganache before now.

The ‘save’ consisted of chocolate ganache which I chilled in the freezer, then whipped. Whipping cream was whipped as well. Another egg white was whipped until stiff. (So glad I have a stand mixer!) The whipped cream and egg white were folded into the whipped ganache and that mixture was used as mousse to fill the layers of chocolate meringue discs. It was wonderful!...light but intensely flavored…a perfect foil for those berries and crispy pavlovas. There was absolutely no time for a sauce of any kind, but turns out it didn’t need one.
The biggest challenge was cutting the dessert into servings. A serrated knife worked pretty well, but most servings were still pretty messy. No one seemed to care…every morsel was eaten. Of course it could have been the result of sipping port with the pavlovas.

Many thanks to Dawn for a lovely, light, luscious, delicious, decadent, drool-worthy dessert! Yay for chocolate!

Check out the other Daring Bakers’ versions of Chocolate Pavlovas, with links found on the Blogroll.. You don’t have to be a duchess to make Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocoalte Mascarpone (or my) Mousse and Crème Anglaise sauce.

Au revoir from the Land of St. Honore’! xoxo Elle

“Quick” Chocolate “Mousse”
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 egg white

Place the chocolate in the bottom of a stand mixer bowl. In another small, microwave-safe bowl place 1 cup heavy cream. Heat in the microwave until very hot, about 1 minute on full power. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit 2 minutes. Stir with a spatula, to mix the melted chocolate with the cream. Make sure mixture is smooth. Place mixture in a bowl and put into the freezer for 10 minutes.

Clean the stand mixer bowl. Beat the egg white with the whisk attachment in place until the egg whites are stiff but still moist. Set aside in another bowl. Beat the remaining 1 cup heavy cream until soft peaks form. Set aside in another bowl.

Return the chilled ganache to the mixing bowl. Whip at high speed with the whisk attachment in place until the ganache is whipped, lightened and holds soft peaks. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in the whipped heavy cream and the egg white. Use as filling at once for the Pavlovas.


  1. beautiful! you did a great job!!

  2. Elle..I love the story relating to the 'duchess' (YOU!!) having guests and trying to come up with something light and sweet to serve them. Your pavlova is a tower of beauty with those gorgeous strawberries. When I first saw St. Honore, I couldn't help but think of the Gateau!

    I love the end of the story, the perfect end to a lovely evening of good food, good friends, spirits, laughter and love :)

  3. oh my goodness! i hit the "next blog" link from my blog and your came up. boy am i happy it did! i am 6 months pregnant and everyday craving chocolate. the pictures in you blog make my mouth water. everything looks delicious! i'll have one of each please!

  4. A lovely challenge and a lovely story yet again. I'm making a habit of missing the challenges. Too many things to do and just not enough time!!

  5. Oh, so beautiful! I like your comment about reading the recipe. That's me all over.

    Wonderful inventiveness on the mousse. It all came together beautifully! I'm sure it was much appreciated by all.