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Archive for June, 2010

Chocolate, finally!  It’s been awhile since the Daring Bakers had a good, rich, chocolate recipe.  This month, we were challenged to make chocolate pavlovas with chocolate mascarpone mousse.  I actually completed the challenge three days into the month; quite early for me.  It ended up being a little costly though, because I bought mascarpone (still refuse to make it) and used the good quality 70% cocoa Lindt chocolate.  Isn’t everything better with high quality ingredients though?

Actually quite a simple challenge.  The pavlovas are basically made with a meringue, in this case flavored chocolate, and topped with a mousse, which was just heavy cream, melted chocolate, mascarpone, lemon zest, and substituted fresh orange juice for the Grand Marnier (already expensive enough, I wasn’t going to buy the liquor too!).  I also added some powdered sugar to the mousse because it wasn’t sweet enough.

Then the last step was just to frost (or pipe) the mousse onto the meringues.  I tried to get creative with shapes, and spend a bit more time on the presentation for this challenge.  The single-serve pavlovas looked pretty good.  They did, however, get mixed reviews.  My mom isn’t a fan of chocolate and orange, so she didn’t really like the mousse.  My dad didn’t really like the meringue or, as he referred to it, cardboard.  But the treats got rave reviews at the friendly poker match I went to that night.

Just a tip that I discovered after making these.  They are to be consumed right away.  Do not leave overnight, or your meringue base will be soggy and fragile.

I actually ended up making another batch, because I had way too much mousse leftover.  They were devoured by my coworkers within an hour.  I think I ate a total of two mini pavlovas.  You see, we are officially in the summer season, AKA bathing suit season.  I’m thankful I have a team of coworkers, friends, and family to consume my baked goods.

Grade:  A

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
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Settled in my condo and adjusted to my new kitchen (still not thrilled with the electric stove), I’ve taken to hosting dinner parties for friends and family.  I think I should be Martha Stewart’s apprentice.  I’m getting better at cooking (though I can’t say I didn’t know how to cook, I just never did) and find it really fun to have people over rather than go out to eat.

My parents were the guests at my first dinner party.  I made pan-fried pork chops wrapped in prosciutto with capers and spinach, and a rich chocolate mousse, recipes courtesy of Curtis Stone.  It turned out well, but the pork was a bit too lemony.  Lesson learned.

I had nine friends over for my next dinner party.  It was BYOC (bring your own chair).  It was right before St. Patrick’s Day so I served up some beef and guinness stew with potatoes, soda bread, and apple/blackberry crumble.  My friend Roddy also brought a Shepherds Pie.  It was great fun, but I made way too much food.  Three months later, I still have a few tupperware containers each with a serving of stew in the freezer.  And I ate one the other day.  And I didn’t get violently sick.  How long does frozen stew last?  Oh well, still have a lot of soda bread in the freezer as well too.  Maybe that should get thrown.

Shortly after that party, I had my aunt, grandparents, parents, and brother over for some pan-fried chicken with a green olive, onion, and tomato topping, baked potato wedges, and tiramisu.  That was quite a success as well, except my grandpa wouldn’t try the tiramisu after he found out there was brandy in it.  I didn’t really think it was very strong, but the others could taste it.

The tiramisu had been a previous Daring Bakers Challenge that I didn’t complete, because I didn’t have the time.  It was something I had always wanted to make, so since I had done part of the challenge in making the lady fingers from scratch (and freezing them, of course), I decided it would be a good dessert.  Plus, I love living alone, but I can’t keep up with eating all the things I bake.  So if I don’t have friends/family over to help me eat the goods, they go to work the next day and get devoured within an hour.

I don’t really have any new baking techniques to report on at the moment.  The baking that I’ve done recently are things I’ve made before, like pumpkin muffins, apple pie, chocolate chip cookies (for Tyler Hilton, Reckless Kelly, and Ari Hest ), and brownies.  I shall try to do something new soon, I’ve just been busy with work and globe-trotting, not to mention my new-found enjoyment of cooking, that I haven’t had much time for the sweet stuff.  But I’ll come up with something soon that is sure to impress you.

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