Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chocolate Pavlova with Chocolate Cream

I hope yours was an awesome New Years Eve/Day celebration. Did you stay up until midnight and ring in twenty-eleven? Did you make it that long? I almost did. Almost is better than nothing:).

New Years Day was shiver-me-timbers FRIGID here in the Salt Lake Valley. I know you people in Boston or Minneapolis or Iowa must be rolling your eyes, but 10 degrees with wind blowing was serious bitter business. And still, we used our parental discretion to take our kids sledding. After all, the sun was shining. How wouldn't it not be fun??

Well, believe you me when I say that not only were we the sole loners on the hill, but our two-year old had the time of his life! The fact that all of our extremities were freezing off by the minute didn't seem to bother him and my champ husband stuck the cold out to humor H's wishes. They sledded, climbed up the hill, sledded and climbed, and sledded some more while me and the 7 month old tried to periodically escape to the warmth of our car's heater.

Anyhow, seeing that our sledding experience was not going to even top an hour's worth of duration, it seemed like a good afternoon to stay inside and bake something lovely for the Rose Bowl football game later that night. Chocolate Pavlova!! It's one of those desserts where fear seems to always paralyze me before I even attempt it. It SHOULD be an intimidating dessert- the name Pavlova alone sends scares up my spine, yet, in the thick of making it, there really isn't anything easier! You whip egg whites until they are dead stiff and then scoop it out onto a baking sheet and let the oven slave away.

I own a MS Living Jan 2009 issue which happens to be a favorite go-to issue and this dessert is tucked beautifully inside. It's a delicious and elegant dessert, even elegant enough for football watching:). Or a tuxedo party. Or a summer BBQ. It goes with everything and is give-me-seconds good.

Chocolate Pavlova with Chocolate Cream

{Martha Stewart, Jan 2009}

4 large egg whites, room temperature

1/4 cup dark-brown sugar

3/4 cup superfine sugar

Pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder

1 recipe Chocolate Cream

1 ½ cups whipping cream, sweetened and whipped to stiff peaks

Chocolate Shavings for Garnish (take a chocolate bar and a peeler and shave away!)

Make the meringue: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Draw an 8-inch circle on parchment, then flip ( you can also use a brown paper bag). Mix whites, sugars, and salt in a mixer bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugars dissolve and mixture is warm, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes (mine took about 10 minutes). Beat in vanilla.

Sift cocoa powder over meringue, and fold until barely any streaks remain (mine was very very light in color, as bottom left picture denotes). Using an offset spatula or a large spoon, spread meringue into a round, using circle as a guide. (Be careful not to spread out too much; meringue will spread more during baking.) Form a well in center, being careful not to spread meringue too thin (Kate note: I definitely goofed on this- ignorning the well part—please make one or else your meringue will be too thin! Learn from my mistake!)

Bake meringue until dry to the touch, about 1 hour. Let cool on sheet on wire rack. Meringue will keep, covered, for up to 1 day.

To assemble pavlova: Spread dark-chocolate cream evenly in center of meringue, leaving a 1/2-inch border from edge. Spread whipped cream over chocolate cream. Garnish with chocolate curls, and serve immediately.

Chocolate Cream

4 large egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

1/2 cup whole milk

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

8 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped (preferably 70 percent cacao)

Prepare an ice-water bath. Whisk yolks and 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl. Bring cream, milk, salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Pour a third of hot cream mixture into yolk mixture, whisking until combined. Pour yolk mixture into pan with hot cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture coats the back of a spoon, 6 to 7 minutes.

Place chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Pour hot mixture over chocolate. Whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Strain through a sieve into a medium bowl, then set in ice-water bath, stirring often, until cold. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on surface of chocolate cream, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

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