May in a nutshell:
New Jobs – Fair Trade Fashion Business Coordinator, Gallery Management and Events Organizer – I deserve my new net book!
Brighter evenings – longer days, more work, less sleep…
New Challenges – learning Spanish & German, marathon multi-tasking, becoming a coffee drinker
Alfresco lunches – salads, charcuterie, cheese, macerated berries and Greek yoghurt
And now back to the baking challenge…
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.
Happy from leaving my day job as a teaching assistant a month ago, I launched myself into the challenge with plenty of enthusiasm! I’ve never heard of Chocolate Marquise but it sounded delicious. I made a quarter of the recipe, which was enough for 12 servings, but fortunately Marquise keep well in the freezer so there’s no stress over finishing it all in one go.
I don’t own an electric whisk so all the beating was done by hand. I try to minimise the amount of electricity that I use when I cook. I am very aware that ovens are kilowatt hungry, so my marathon once-a-week baking session will consist of making several things at the same time. So an electric whisk would be an unnecessary luxury, besides I don’t have space!
A downfall of using hand power was that my yolks didn’t quite double in volume as I ran out of energy, but the end result was amazingly smooth and creamy, despite being on the heavier side of the original recipe. I used a combination of 90% and 50% cocoa solids chocolate (unfortunately not Fair Trade), both gifts from my chocoholic father. I added a pinch of chilli flakes and cassis to the chocolate base, a combination that works so well together. I also made a white chocolate & lemon marquise, omitting the sugar and butter from the original recipe. I filled up some silicon cupcake cases with the marquise which made plating a doddle. They easily popped out reducing the handling of the marquise and also the risk of fast melting.
Luckily I had an assistant to help with the whisking up the meringue! It was very strange rubbing the sugar into the gelatinous egg whites, I tried not to think about what bodily fluid it reminded me of…The milky liquid turned white and foamy after a lot of elbow grease. However, disaster struck when my meringues emerged from the grill, blackened and smoking. Luckily some were just a little singed, so not everything was wasted.
Chocolate marquise with damson flavoured caramel & jerk seasoned nuts
Onto the caramel and toasted nuts. I used brazils, cashews and seeds dusted with jerk season for my toasted nut mix. I added a dash of damson gin to my caramel – I was curious to how this would turn out. The gin provided a leathery note to the toffee finish.
This was a lovely, comfortingly indulgent dessert; creamy soft and silky and crunchy, simultaneously spicy, salty, sweet and bitter. Amazingly this desert has lasted me a whole month! After a stressful day (which has been pretty much every day of the week) it’s provided me with an instant pick-up. I’ve served it with berries and sponge fingers, drizzled over maple syrup when I didn’t have time to make the caramel.
White chocolate marquise with sponge fingers
Emma and Jenny learned how to make this marquise dessert when they worked together at a Seattle restaurant. The recipe is adapted from one developed by Bennie Sata, a Seattle-area pastry chef who introduced the city to one of its iconic chocolate desserts. All vegan recipes were created by Ashlae of Ladycakes.
Note: This recipe was created in a commercial kitchen for restaurant-sized equipment and portions, but we have scaled it down for use in the home kitchen. That said, it still makes two pans of marquise – approximately 18 servings of substantial heft. But don’t be deterred. The finished marquise freezes perfectly for up to 6 months if well-wrapped, and it makes the best dinner party and special occasion dessert you’ll ever pull from your freezer. Plus, halving the remaining ingredients meant odd measurements in the mixer, like 1/16 teaspoon and half-eggs, so we decided to bring this to you in the size we each use at home.
Preparation time: Start to finish, about 8 hours including cooling and freezing time, but this is best done over two days, with a full night for freezing the marquise.
2 8″x8″ square pans, lined with parchment paper
Stand mixer or a hand mixer and someone to stand over it for 15 – 20 minutes uninterrupted
Candy thermometer or cake tester
Spatulas for folding, spooning, and otherwise scraping
Servings: 18 2″x2″ cubes
11 large egg yolks at room temperature
4 large whole eggs
2/3 cup (120 grams/ 4 oz.) sugar
1/3 cup (2.5 fluid oz./ 70 ml.) water
Chocolate Base, barely warm (recipe follows)
2 cups (16 fluid oz./ 500 ml.) heavy cream
2 cups Dutch process cocoa powder (for rolling) (Note: We used extra brut, like Hershey’s Special Dark. Make sure it’s a Dutch processed cocoa, not a natural cocoa powder.)
Torched meringue (recipe follows)
Spiced almonds (recipe follows)
Cacao nibs (optional)
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. We used the stand mixer for this, and 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. The cubes need to sit in the fridge to slowly thaw so plating components can be done during that time. They don’t need to be ready before the cubes are rolled in the cocoa powder.
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.
Servings: n/a – this is an ingredient for the chocolate marquise, not meant to be used separately
12 oz (240 grams/ 1½ cups) bittersweet chocolate (about 70% cocoa)
12 oz (355 ml/ 1½ cups) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup (60 ml/ 2 fluid oz.) tequila
1/4 cup (60 ml/ 3 fluid oz.) light corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons/ less than an ounce) cocoa powder (we used extra brut, like Hershey’s Special Dark, but any Dutch-processed cocoa would be fine. Do not substitute natural cocoa powder.)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 oz unsalted butter (2 tbsps./30 grams), softened
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.
Servings: 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.
11 large egg whites
1 ¾ cups (12 oz.) sugar
Splash of apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
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.
Servings: Makes about 1 cup of caramel
1 cup (8 oz.) sugar
1/2 cup (4 fluid oz./ 120 ml.) water
1 cup (8 fluid oz./ 240 ml.) heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons tequila
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.
Servings: Makes about 1 cup of spiced almonds
1/2 cup (4 oz.) sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white
1 cup (145 grams/ 5 oz.) blanched whole almonds
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt.
In a larger mixing bowl whisk the egg white until it’s frothy and thick.
Add the spice mix to the egg white and whisk to combine completely.
Add the nuts to the egg white mixture and toss with a spoon.
Spoon the coated nuts onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake the nuts for 30 minutes, or until they turn light brown. Allow the nuts to cool completely and they will get very crunchy. Set aside until ready to serve.