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.

I was pretty excited when I saw this month’s challenge. I have seen quite a few pavlova recipes pop up on Tastespotting, and they have had my interests piqued, so this month’s challenge finally provided the perfect opportunity to put on my apron and give one a shot.

A pavlova is a meringue-based dessert that has a crisp exterior and a light, almost cotton candy-like interior. It is traditionally decorated with a topping of cream and fresh fruit. For this challenge, we were to make chocolate pavlovas topped with mascarpone mousse and drizzled with a mascarpone cream. I went dairy free with this challenge, so I adhered with the chocolate meringue recipe pretty much to the letter, but deviated in my chocolate mousse and cream recipes. I had remembered seeing a gorgeous cherry chocolate pavlova recipe over at BBC Good Food, so that served as my inspiration for this challenge. My final pavlova consisted of the chocolate meringue, a layer of cherry compote (that you can almost see poking out from under the mousse in the picture above), a layer of chocolate mousse, and a cherry almond cream for drizzling.

I have to say, I am a fan of the pavlova. I loved the contrasting crunch of the outer shell of the meringue with the soft interior of the meringue. It is overall a pretty sweet dessert, but it makes for a great indulgence on a summer day!

You can view all of my recipes after the jump.

The number of pavlovas this recipe will yield depends greatly on the size of your meringues. The hostess said she would get 8-10 out of this recipe. I chose to do two large pavlovas.

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) cocoa powder [I used cacao powder]

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.

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.)

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.)

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.

Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Cherry Compote
adapted from My Recipes
*I would double this recipe if I were to make it again. You can stretch the compote between the pavlovas, but it would have been nice to have a little extra to play around with. I think it got a little lost as it was – plus a little extra cherry compote lying around can never be a bad thing!

1 c cherries
1 T sugar
1 1/2 t water
1/2 t arrowroot powder

Combine cherries, sugar, water, and arrowroot in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool.

Chocolate Mousse (Dairy-Free)
adapted from Rawmazing

1/4 c + 2 T dates soaked until very soft with pits removed
1 avocado
1/2  c almond milk
1/4 c almond butter
1/4 c + 2 T cacao powder
1/4 c honey
In food processor or blender, combine all ingredients and blend or process until smooth. Refrigerate, then enjoy.

Cherry Almond Cream
(Dairy Free)
adapted from Whole Foods Market

1/4 c roasted almond butter
1/2 c cherries [I used frozen cherries because when you process them they make the cream a bit thicker, but you can use fresh as well]
2 T almond milk, divided
1 1/2 t maple syrup
1/4 t vanilla extract

Combine almond butter, cherries, 1 T almond milk, maple syrup and vanilla in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. If you would like the consistency thinner, add the additional tablespoon of almond milk. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Spoon the cherry compote over the meringues. Dollop on the chocolate mousse and spread around with the back of a spoon. Drizzle with the cherry almond cream and garnish with a few fresh cherries on top.

What’s also really great about this recipe is that all of it can be made ahead of time and then assembled right before you are ready to eat.

To get the original challenge recipes and to see all of the other amazing pavlovas head on over to The Daring Kitchen!