Daring Bakers’ May 2011 Challenge: Marquise on Meringue
Well, earlier it was just a feeling but after today, I am positive that I am jinxed. Seriously, there’s no other explanation for what happened today or actually what happens every time there is something important.
I have been using my kitchen for the past one year without ever encountering any problem. Everything has always worked out smoothly. Everything was working smoothly even yesterday.But the day before I am going to have 9 people (make that 11 including me and Vikram), not only do I have a sprained ankle to deal with (which makes it difficult for me to stand for more then 10 minutes at stretch), a dog to sit for, lunch and dinner to cook for 11 people, besides cleaning and getting the house ready for them, but amidst all this I also land myself a broken stove.
Well actually it did not break, but at the time it sure seemed to me that it did. Our kitchen’s power got cut off and that’s why none of the appliances in the kitchen were working- including the refrigerator- which shutting off in this heat is a disaster in making. To top it all, our housing people could not do anything as it was a problem with the city’s lines- some problem with their transformer. And just when I thought things could get no worse, the whole house’s power decides to go. Now this kind of stuff happens in India and had I been there I wouldn’t be like Why me!Why me! But….
…But this is America and the power never goes off here! So yes, you can’t blame me to think that I am jinxed. Seriously there is no other explanation. And trouble doesn’t happen to me in single folds- I was ok with the dog sitting- I love dogs, so it wasn’t any trouble for me. I was also ok with the sprained ankle- it hurts but its manageable- I would probably get it checked if it doesn’t improve. But, no way am I ok with no power in the kitchen. That’s too much for me deal with when I have so many people coming to my house. Two days before the least of my worries was how are we going to manage with one bathroom for 11 people and today I just couldn’t stop counting my problems.
Anyway, such is my life! Things got on track after a few hours of turmoil. I am late again for posting this month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge (though I had almost finished writing about the challenge yesterday and would have posted it had things gone more smoothly). Out of three challenges that I have completed, two have been posted late! I am one of the worst members ever! But each time I had valid reasons. Once I was traveling and this time, well you all know the story! The fact that I was able to complete this month’s Daring Baker’s challenge is good enough for me. And am so glad I did. V loved it. In his exact words: “I like this DB thing you have got going. I get to eat such wonderful things – names of which I have never even heard before!”
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.
The compulsory components for this challenge were the Marquise and the meringue. The tequila caramel and spiced nuts were optional. While I could do the caramel (thank god I did because it tastes great!), I did not have time nor the energy to make the spiced almonds as well. I left the challenge for the last minute as I could not find dutch-processed cocoa any where, and finally used normal cocoa- which according to me worked out fine, though I have nothing to compare it to. Plus, I had too much on my cards to complete each optional component. But I will be trying this dessert again and will be trying all the components to make it the outrageously decadent dessert its supposed to be.
Chocolate Marquise on Meringue with tequila Caramel
For the Chocolate Marquise:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg yolks and whole eggs. Whip on high speed until very thick and pale, about 10 – 15 minutes.
- When the eggs are getting close to finishing, make a sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring the syrup to a boil and then cook to softball stage (235F/115C). If you have a cake tester with a metal loop for a handle, the right stage for the syrup is reached when you can blow a bubble through the loop (as seen in the following pictures).
- With the mixer running on low speed, drizzle the sugar syrup into the fluffy eggs, trying to hit that magic spot between the mixing bowl and the whisk.
- When all of the syrup has been added (do it fairly quickly), turn the mixer back on high and whip until the bowl is cool to the touch. This will take at least 10 minutes.
- In a separate mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Set aside.
When the egg mixture has cooled, add the chocolate base to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Try to get it as consistent as possible without losing all of the air you’ve whipped into the eggs. It took about 1 minute.
- Fold 1/3 of the reserved whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, and then fold in the remaining whipped cream.
- Pour into the prepared pans and cover with plastic wrap (directly touching the mixture so it doesn’t allow in any air).
- Freeze until very firm, at least 2 – 4 hours (preferably 6 – 8 hours).
When you’re ready to plate, remove the marquise from the freezer at least 15 minutes before serving. While it’s still hard, remove it from the pan by pulling on the parchment ‘handles’ or by flipping it over onto another piece of parchment.
- Cut it into cubes and roll the cubes in cocoa powder. These will start to melt almost immediately, so don’t do this step until all of your other plating components (meringue, caramel, spiced nuts, cocoa nibs) are ready.
- Plate with the torched meringue and drizzled caramel sauce, and toss spiced almonds and cocoa nibs around for garnish. You want to handle the cubes as little as possible because they get messy quickly and are difficult to move. However, you want to wait to serve them until they’ve softened completely. The soft pillows of chocolate are what make this dessert so unusual and when combined with the other elements, you’ll get creamy and crunchy textures with cool, spicy, salty, bitter, and sweet sensations on your palate.
For the Chocolate Base
- Place the chocolate in a small mixing bowl.
- In a double-boiler, warm the cream until it is hot to the touch (but is not boiling). Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate.
- Allow it to sit for a minute or two before stirring. Stir until the chocolate is melted completely and is smooth throughout.
- Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
- Set aside until cooled to room temperature. Do not refrigerate, as the base needs to be soft when added to the marquise mixture. If you make it the day before, you may need to warm it slightly. Whisk it until it is smooth again before using it in the marquise recipe.
For the Torched Meringue
Makes about 4 – 5 cups of meringue. If you aren’t planning on serving *all* of the marquise at once, you might want to scale this recipe back a bit.
- Combine the egg whites, sugar and vinegar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Using your (clean, washed) hand, reach in the bowl and stir the three together, making sure the sugar is moistened evenly by the egg whites and they make a homogeneous liquid.
- Over a saucepan of simmering water, warm the egg white mixture. Use one hand to stir the mixture continuously, feeling for grains of sugar in the egg whites. As the liquid heats up, the sugar will slowly dissolve and the egg whites will thicken. This step is complete when you don’t feel any more sugar crystals in the liquid and it is uniformly warm, nearly hot.
- Remove the mixing bowl from the saucepan and return it to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk until you reach soft peaks.
- In the last 10 seconds of mixing, add the vanilla to the meringue and mix thoroughly. When you’re ready to plate the dessert, spoon the meringue onto a plate (or use a piping bag) and use a blowtorch to broil.
For the Tequila Caramel
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water on medium-high heat. Boil until the water completely evaporates and the sugar caramelizes to a dark mahogany color.
- Working quickly, add the cream to the darkened caramel. It will bubble and pop vigorously, so add only as much cream as you can without overflowing the pot.
- Return the pot to the stove on low heat and whisk gently to break up any hardened sugar. Add any remaining cream and continue stirring. Gradually, the hard sugar will dissolve and the caramel sauce will continue to darken. When the caramel has darkened to the point you want it, remove it from the heat.
- Add the salt and tequila and stir to combine. Set aside until ready to serve.