Daring Bakers: Chocolate Pavlovas with White Chocolate Mousse 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.

Originally, this recipe didn’t sound summery enough to me.  Chocolate upon chocolate just seemed a bit heavy and rich to serve in June.  However, the chocolate pavlovas are wonderful and light.  I made white chocolate mousse and served it with sliced strawberries.  I was very pleased with the results and found this to be a lovely dessert.

Take the time to make the mascarpone cream.  It tastes divine drizzled on the desserts, and it also delicious eaten like soup…soup that tastes like melted ice cream.  Yum.

This could be done in a day, but I opted for the  two day option just to make like a little less hectic.

Day 1: Make pavlovas and creme anglaise.  Store the pavlovas in an airtight container and let the creme cool in the fridge.

Day 2: Make the chocolate mousse, and use your reserved creme anglaise to make the mascarpone cream.  Then assemble your desserts.

Once assembled and ready to serve, this is quite an impressive dessert.  It has a few components, but they are all worth the time and effort.  I brought this to a friends for a little dinner party, and so I had to have everything prepped and ready about 3 hours before we actually ate the desserts.  I was a little worried about how the mousse and cream would hold up in the fridge.  Thankfully, everything was perfect and the mousse was easier to scoop after being chilled.

The combination of the crunchy pavlovas, creamy and rich white chocolate mousse, sweet, fresh strawberries and indescribable mascarpone cream makes for quite a dessert.

Make the Pavlova Batter

Pipe and Bake the Pavlovas

Make the Creme Anglaise (photo courtesy of Daring Bakers)

Make the White Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

Make the Mascarpone Cream (photo courtesy of Daring Bakers)

Assemble and Enjoy

Here are the recipes.

Chocolate Meringue (for the chocolate Pavlova):


  • 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) Dutch processed 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 white. (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.
  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.
White Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse


  • 1 ½ cups (355 mls) heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
  • grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
  • 9 ounces (255 grams) white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (optional)
  1. Put ½ cup (120 mls) 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.
Creme Angliase
  • 1 cup (235 mls) whole milk
  • 1 cup (235 mls) heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.
  2. Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.
  3. Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.
Mascarpone Cream


  • 1 recipe crème anglaise
  • ½ cup (120 mls) mascarpone
  • 2 tbsp (30 mls) Sambucca (optional)
  • ½ cup (120 mls) heavy cream


  1. Prepare the crème anglaise. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and the Sambucca and let the mixture cool. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed.
  2. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture until smooth.


  1. Pipe or scoop the mousse onto the pavlovas.
  2. Top with fruit is desired.
  3. Drizzle the mascarpone cream over the top.
  4. Dust with confectioner’s sugar if desired.

Chicken Sausage and Pepper Kabobs

Grilling makes almost all foods taste better, and it makes your neighbors jealous.  Last night I made these incredibly simple sausage kabobs and they were delicious.  The recipe is from The Food Network.  Here is the link.

The pesto recipe needed a bit more oil, so I added about 1 tablespoon more than called for.  A little minced garlic also made the pesto extra special.  I left out the cherry tomatoes…because I forgot to buy them despite the fact that they were on my list.  Can pregnancy brain begin this early?  Anyway, I found a yummy red pepper and garlic chicken sausage that was perfect.  The remaining pesto is mixed into plain couscous and is a great dish.  Very simple and clean.  I would maybe add some lemon juice to the couscous to kick up the flavor.

This is a quick, simple, and delicious meal.  It can easily be doubled to feed more people and changed to accommodate what you like…or don’t like.

Chicken Sausage and Pepper Kabobs


  • 1 cup couscous
  • 2 bell peppers (red and yellow), cut into chunks
  • 1 (12-ounce) package chicken sausage (preferably garlic-flavored), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar


  1. Soak eight 8-inch skewers in water, at least 15 minutes. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium high. Prepare the couscous as the label directs.
  2. Meanwhile, toss the bell peppers, sausage, onion and tomatoes in a bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Thread onto the skewers, alternating the sausage and vegetables. Grill, turning, until the vegetables are slightly softened and the sausage begins to brown, 6 to 7 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, puree the parsley, cilantro, garlic and scallions in a blender with the remaining 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar and 2 tablespoons water. Season with salt and pepper. Brush the skewers with some of the pesto and continue to cook, turning, until the tomatoes are tender and the sausage is charred, 6 to 7 more minutes.
  4. Toss the couscous with half of the remaining pesto and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the skewers and the remaining pesto, for dipping.

Asian Vegetable Slaw

To go with Pioneer Woman’s flank steak, I was in search of a side dish.  Rice would have been fine, and then maybe a salad or some steamed asparagus.  But that just seemed kinda boring and not the perfect summer side.

Thankfully, I came across a perfect summer side dish recipe from Erin at vittles for the voracious.  This salad would a great accompaniment to the grilled steak and the Asian flavors.

The salad has tons of yummy, crisp vegetables.  It tastes fresh but still has a great rich flavor thanks to the dressing.  You can change this recipe to fit your likes and needs.  Add any other vegetables that you like.  Erin suggests water chestnuts, broccoli florets, snow peas, and asparagus pieces.  Along with the recipe required broccoli slaw and edamame, I added extra purple cabbage and snow peas.

For the dressing I used Brianna’s Ginger Mandarin dressing, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and 1 teaspoon hot chili sauce.  I don’t like a dressing-drenched salad, so this was just enough to get the flavor without losing the vegetables.

Here is Vittles link, and here is my variation.  This is a great salad.  Thanks, Erin!

Asian Vegetable Slaw



  • 1 package (10 oz) broccoli slaw mix
  • 1 cup red cabbage, chopped
  • 1 can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 2 cups shelled edamame
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup blanched snap peas


  • 1/3 cup Asian dressing (I used Brianna’s Ginger Mandarin)
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili sauce


  1. Combine all vegetables (and mandarins) in a large bowl and toss together.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk dressing, peanut butter and chili sauce.
  3. Pour sauce over the vegetables and toss well.
  4. Chill until ready to serve.

Creamy Blueberry Crumble Pie

Blueberries were on sale at my grocery store for $0.99 a pint!  I bought 4 pints.  While I am more than happy to eat them plain as a snack or as a garnish for my yogurt, I wanted to do something a little more exciting with these sweet little berries.  I chose this luscious blueberry pie.  I think it’s a perfect summer dessert.

This is not, however, just blueberry pie.  The filling is made of sour cream, eggs, sugar, flour and blueberries.  And the fun doesn’t end there.  On top of this pie is a streusel type topping made of butter, sugar and flour.  This pie has no other option than to be delicious.

On allrecipes.com, this pie is called Creamy Blueberry Pie.  Here is the link.  It calls for a 9 inch deep dish pie crust, but I decided to make my own crust.  This is not something I do very often.  I like the convenience of a store bought crust, and they usually taste great.  The Pillsbury kind that you roll out on your own are the best.  I’ve found that the frozen kind already in the pan have a tendency to crack, and the edge of the crust looks like it came out of a machine…because it did.  So, if you do use a store crust, go with the one that at least looks like it’s homemade!

Most pie crust recipes are quite similar.  All use flour, sugar, salt, some kind of fat, and some kind of liquid.  Having your ingredients chilled is considered to be a must in pie crust making.  It is also important not to overwork the dough.  You can mix the dough by hand, or in a food processor.  When you mix the dough, make sure that you can still see bits of the fat in the finished product.  This ensures a tender, flaky crust.


Caramel Banana Oat Muffins

If you are anything like me, when you look in your freezer you might see about a dozen or so frozen black bananas.  When bananas go bad in my house I either make banana bread if I have the time, or I stick them in the freezer.  This pile of frozen bananas adds up quickly.  Before I made these muffins I had 16 frozen bananas!

I pulled out 3 bananas from my stash and made these muffins earlier this week.  The recipe is from allrecipes.com.  Here is the link.

To the original recipe I added a cup of caramel pieces and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.  I lowered the oven temperature from 400 F to 375 F.  My batch of muffin batter made more than enough for 12 muffins.  I was able to make an additional 8 mini muffins, so maybe 16 regular sized muffins total.  Everything else is just as it is in the original recipe.

The oats add a nice texture, and the caramel pieces bring in some extra delicious sweetness.  Some of the caramel pieces sunk to the bottom of the muffins, so some of them were hard to remove from the pan.  Be sure to grease your pan and paper well!  These muffins are OK at room temperature, but I recommend warming them in the microwave or toaster oven.

Caramel Banana Oat Muffins


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1 cup caramel pieces


  1. Combine flour, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, soda, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly. Stir in the milk, oil, and vanilla, then mix in the sugar.
  3. Add the mashed banana, and combine thoroughly. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined.
  4. Fold in caramel pieces.
  5. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper bake cups, spray with cooking spray, and divide the batter among them.  You may have extra batter to make a few more muffins.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 18 to 20 minutes.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Aren’t these yummy looking?  It doesn’t hurt that I put them on my cute new summery tray!

These shortbread-like cookies are rich, buttery, full of pecans and covered in a lovely layer of sweet powdered sugar.  They are a bit crumbly and I found them to be a bit dry as well.  But the flavor of these cookies is great and they are a fun little treat.

A few things I would do differently next time.

1) Make them smaller.  I used a large cookie scoop and rolled them into large balls…a bit bigger than the size of a golf ball.  I would go smaller and reduce the baking time.

2) Toss them in sugar twice.  I only tossed them once and only after a very slight cool from the oven.  I would toss them once warm, and then again after they had cooled completely.  The sugar got kinda sticky because of the heat from the warm cookie.

3) Add more cinnamon.  The recipe didn’t call for any, but I added 1/2 teaspoon.  I would double…or maybe even triple…that amount.

One good trick is tossing the cookies in a ziploc bag filled half way full with powdered sugar.  This keeps things from getting too messy in your kitchen.

This recipe came from a good friend, and it was given to her by a great aunt.

Mexican Wedding Cookies


  • 2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • powdered sugar


  1. Beat the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until creamy.
  2. Add the vanilla and beat.
  3. Add the flour, cinnamon and pecans and mix well.
  4. Pat the dough into a round, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for about an hour or until firm.
  5. Remove from the fridge and form the dough into balls and place on a cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart.
  6. Bake at 325 F for 15-20 minutes.  Do not let them get too brown or they will be dry.
  7. Roll the hot cookies in powdered sugar and let cool completely.
  8. Roll them once more in powdered sugar before serving.

Tomatillo Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

A while back I posted a recipe for chicken enchiladas from Tyler Florence.  They were good, but not the best.  At the beginning of that post I mentioned my all-time favorite recipe for chicken enchiladas, but did not provide it.  What was I thinking?  How could I be so selfish as to say how wonderful something was, but not share it?  I must apologize and make up for it by sharing this incredible recipe with you now.  I made  these enchiladas this weekend and they were a hit  that night for dinner, and last night as leftovers.

There are a few shortcuts to this meal, but the sauce totally makes this dish, so don’t try to use any shortcuts there.  When I have time I boil my own chicken and shred it, but you can save quite a bit of time by shredding the meat from a rotisserie chicken.  I also use a cup of the chicken broth to make the sauce when I boil my own chicken.  This time I used 3 large skinless, bone-in chicken breasts, and that was just enough chicken.  Using pre-shredded cheese is an obvious time saver.  You can put the enchiladas together and refrigerate or freeze them until you want to bake them.  The sauce also freezes well, but freeze them separately and thaw them in the fridge overnight before baking.

You can add more green chiles to kick up the heat, which I usually do.  The cheese is also something you can play with.  More or less is fine, but leave it out entirely and you’ll be sad and sorry.  If you have leftover turkey, then use that in place of the chicken.

This recipe is from Austin, Texas Junior League cookbook, Austin Entertains.  You can purchase it here.  The recipe is below, and just slightly adapted.


Whisk in Brooklyn

My trip here has almost come to an end, and my services as a baby helper will no longer be available to my sister as of 4pm today.  So, I babysat Maren while Lisa got her hair cut at The Beehive in Brooklyn.  By the way, she got a great cut here.  So, if you ever need a salon in Williamsburg this is a good one.

Maren and I set out on a little adventure of our own in the stroller.  She was asleep when we left, and I hoped this would be her consistent state for the next hour.  She has been so much fun to be around this past week.  Despite her cuteness, I would have much preferred her to remain peaceful and quiet until we got back to the salon.  She knows that I am not her mommy and the longer she sleeps, the longer she is unaware that mommy is not the one pushing the stroller.  She was a quiet resting baby during our outing, except for a tiny moment of unhappiness that was quickly ended thanks to a little comfort…in the form of a pacifier.

You do not have an incredible amount of freedom when you’re maneuvering a stroller through busy streets.  This lack of freedom makes the simple task of browsing a cute gift shop, clothing store or book store much more difficult.  I passed up many shops simply because they were too crowded inside, had more than two steps to the  door, or had doors that looked a little too hard for me to fit through with the stroller.  I did see this store and couldn’t resist going in.  Whisk is a kitchen store in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn and is quite adorable and fun to browse through.  There are no steps to the door, there looked to be just one other patron in the store, and there also seemed to be room to get around people (and for people to get around me).  I am so glad I went in.  Here is the link with their location and hours.

The usual suspects of kitchen gadgets adorned walls, utensil jars and shelves.  A side room contained both fun and traditional table linens, flatware, coffee and tea paraphernalia, cookbooks and serving pieces.  It is a quainter version of a Williams-Sonoma or Sur la Table.

I purchased this towel for $21.99 after much internal struggle.  It was a run off between this and another towel with no trim, but some very cool graphic red birds.  This will be the towel I hang on the oven door when company is coming, but I will not be using this one to clean up any spills.  It is just too beautiful.  Ben is going to think this makes it a totally impractical item, but I will let people dry their freshly washed hands on it…so it will not be completely useless.

This was one of many different colored and sized colanders; yellow, red, orange, blue, green, pink, purple, small, medium and large.  I have been wanting a small colander like this for berries for a while now.  It doesn’t make much sense to use a large colander to wash a pint of berries.  This is the perfect sized item for that job.  Yellow colander, $14.99.

Baked in Brooklyn

Sarah and I are in Brooklyn…finally.  I won’t go into too much detail because it will just get me worked up, but it was a bit of a nightmare.  Cancelled flights, 180 people on stand-by, an unplanned night in Dallas, a 6:40 am flight the next day, lost baggage, horribly unhelpful  AA baggage people, and now items are mysteriously missing out of my suitcase.  This was not the best travel experience.

Thankfully, we are here now and having a great time visiting my sister Lisa, my brother-in-law Randy and our 10 week old niece Maren.  Isn’t she amazingly cute?  She has the most rockin’ hair I have ever seen.  She is a whopping 9 pounds now, and quite fun to be around.

This morning while driving around Brooklyn we stopped in Baked, a bakery in Red Hook, to pick up some goodies.  Here is a link to their site.  Sarah had heard of their salted brownies; caramel and fleur-de-sel in a chocolate-y brownie.  I’d read that they also had incredible whoopie pies.

The bakery is a little funky and very cool.  The door is orange with an animal antler handle.  Inside the decor consists of white deer heads on the walls, orange details and warm wooden tables and wood grain walls and tables.  A crystal chandelier hangs above the counter to soften the manliness of the place.

Unfortunately the salted caramel brownie that we came here for was not on the menu today.  However, Sarah and I are not quitters, and we will not give up just because of a slight disappointment.  So we chose an assortment of treats to sample and share with each other.

Here is a tray of most of the goodies. Clockwise from top left are the s’more nut bar, rosemary apricot bar, oatmeal cookie, chocolate cookie, chocolate whoopie pie with vanilla cream filling, and mini Red Velvet cupcake.  Not pictured but very delicious are the banana whoopie pie, lemon pistachio vegan cookie and the Brewer’s brownie made with brewers malt.

S’more Nut Bar:  A slightly sweet graham cracker base with a chocolate and marshmallow center and peanut top.  The chocolate is thick, ganache-like and incredibly rich.  I would have enjoyed more marshmallow pieces in this bar, but it was still very good.

Rosemary Apricot Bar:  This was one of my favorites.  I usually do not like apricot, but with the rich buttery bottom layer and the nutty streusal topping I was a total fan.  The rosemary adds such a great savory flavor to the sweetness of the rest of the ingredients.  It reminds me of these rosemary pecan cookies which I LOVE with a passion and cannot stop eating when I make them.

Oatmeal Cookie:  Another favorite packed full of oatmeal, coconut, dried cherries, pecans and white chocolate.  I might try to recreate these at home.

Chocolate Cloud Cookie:  Dense, chocolate goodness.

Whoopie Pie:  A softer version of an Oreo and so much tastier.  Rich and yummy chocolate cookie encasing light fluffy vanilla cream filling.  Tasty.

Mini Red Velvet:  An adorable treat with a perfect dollop of cream cheese frosting.  This a perfect single serving cupcake.