Saturday, June 26, 2010


With Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse and Vanilla Sauce


"Rugby is a game for barbarians played by gentlemen. Football is a game for gentlemen played by barbarians."
- attributed to Oscar Wilde

Europe is all a-flutter with the World Cup. Day in and day out, television sets, radios and computer screens everywhere are tuned in, news hours are devoted solely and completely to this grandest, loudest of all sports events. From the first coin toss and that first kick heard round the world, every European sits, watches, listens with bated breath, hands clasped, heart pounding. Prayers are interspersed with groans, grunts and choice expletives, the sweet taste of hope mingled with the jarring pungency of despair. Even Wimbledon, that most sacred and royal of tennis tournaments, has been forgotten, washed out, left in the dust of so many free kicks.

Of course we are speaking of the World Cup as in football. No, not American football, rather what Americans refer to as soccer. Now as my family and friends know, we are rugby people. Yes, we prefer rugby to soccer, the Gentlemen’s Sport over the Street Sport. And who doesn’t love watching those muscular men with the great thighs in skin-tight shorts and jerseys running around, clutching each other in wild embrace, hair swinging, weaving in and out as graceful as dancers with the final, beautiful dive chest first onto the green. Whew. Sorry, I sometimes get carried away.

So, where was I? Ah, the World Cup. This rare event has been punctuated by an even rarer event in our household, a visit from a friend who has come to stay. Clare and I sit side by side, day after day watching match after match, eating bowl after bowl of popcorn, sipping birch sap champagne (Sweden’s finest!) and root…root…rooting for the home team.

Nelly Kelly was sure some fan,
She would root just like any man,

Told the (referee) he was wrong,

All along, good and strong.

When the score was just two to two,

Nelly Kelly knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song.

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.

Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,

I don't care if I never get back,

Let me root, root, root for the home team,

If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, (yellow cards and) you're out,
At the old ball game."

- Jack Norworth, 1908, 1927
(slight changes Life’s a Feast)

Truly caught up in the excitement of all of the drama, whipped up into a frenzy of patriotic fervor, Clare and I have spent every single day of her visit dashing between kitchen and living room, baking furiously and shouting at the players, shaking our fists, slapping hands to foreheads. But both she and I have one saving grace when it comes to the World Cup, our double lives: Clare is English and lives in Scandinavia while I am American living in France. We each have a choice of home teams, are swayed by such varied attachments that if one of our teams loses or gets sent home in disgrace we can simply switch our allegiance and still be loyal to a home team. The hullabaloo surrounding the French national football team has been making headlines and the repercussions of a continuous losing streak have been making waves throughout the country for so many years that supporting the Americans has been easy, especially after having watched how less thuggish the USA team has been playing in this World Cup, near perfect examples of sportsmanship and elegant football. Clare, on the other hand, has been vacillating between the English and any Scandinavian team who can gather together eleven blond men in shorts who can kick a ball. Watching England play has been a hair-pulling experience, yet they have indeed pulled through. We each heaved a huge sigh of relief as that first England-USA game ended in a draw, I can tell you that! No girl fighting necessary!

So while we are root…root…rooting for whichever home team feels the most like home (or has the better chance of winning) at the moment, we have been cooking and baking – poor Clare is suffering from food blog syndrome contagion: every waking moment is spent either at the market, the supermarket or in the kitchen cooking and baking when one is not sitting in front of a computer blogging said cooking and baking. In between the bouts of gorging on salty popcorn and nibbling on Swedish Dinkel crackers, we have been craving sweets. It started the day she arrived with a chocolate layer birthday cake (for son Clément) layered with whipped cream and raspberries and topped with chocolate buttercream, and was followed shortly after with luscious, amazing, perfect lemon ice cream (recipes will soon be revealed on Life’s a Feast). And then that time of the month rolled around, the Daring Bakers’ challenge, a multi-layered confection of chocolate, heavy cream, mascarpone and everything sweet.

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 wanted to make a lighter flavored pavlova to offset the rich chocolate flavor of the mousse, so I chose a simple white pavlova in which I folded deep jade green pistachio nuts and added a dash of vanilla. I added cornstarch and vinegar to the meringue recipe as I usually do which gives the meringue a dry, crispy outer shell and a light, airy, marshmellow-like center. The pistachio meringue was perfect; just crispy on the outside without being crumbly or powdery, soft on the inside with the perfect marshmallow center, just chewy without being sticky and it truly melted on the tongue, leaving behind a wonderful delicate nutty taste. The chocolate mousse was creamy, smooth and very rich with an intense, not-too-sweet semisweet chocolate flavor. The Vanilla Sauce, made by folding crème anglaise, mascarpone and lightly whipped cream together, with a splash of nutty, warm Amaretto, was beautiful and the perfect balance with the chocolate mousse.

Thanks to Dawn, Lis and Ivonne for this wonderful event and delicious dessert!

And a Crème Anglaise Vanilla Sauce


3 large egg whites
¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp vinegar (I used cider vinegar though you can use white wine vinegar)
½ tsp vanilla
1 ¾ oz (50 g) shelled pistachio nuts

Grind the pistachio nuts finely but with some small chunks.

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Line one large baking sheet with parchment or oven paper.

In a clean large bowl (I prefer plastic), beat the egg whites on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase mixer speed to high and continue beating until foamy. Gradually add the sugar to the whites as you continue to whip the whites until very stiff peaks hold and the meringue is glossy and moist.

Blend the cornstarch, the vinegar and the vanilla until the cornstarch is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Pour this liquid over the whites and fold together. Add all of the ground pistachios except two tablespoons and fold into the meringue.

To make one large pavlova, trace an 8- or 9-inch (20- to 22 ½ cm) circle onto the parchment and scrape all of the meringue out into the center of the drawn circle. Using the back of a spoon or a metal spatula gently spread the meringue out until you have an even disc. You can make a slight well in the center if you like. For individual pavlovas, draw six or eight 4-inch (10-cm) circles on the parchment and divide the meringue evenly among the circles then gently spread the meringue until even and level. Again, make a slight well in the center of each meringue to hold the mousse. Do not overwork the meringue or it may deflate. Bear in mind the pavlovas spread and puff up a bit so leave a couple of inches between each shell.

If you like, you can hold back some of the meringue and, using a pastry bag and a star tip, pipe stars out onto your lined baking sheet to serve as cookies alongside the mousse.

Sprinkle the remaining chopped or ground pistachios on the surface of the pavlovas.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 250°F (120°C) and bake the pavlovas until the outside is dry and crisp. It should also be dry and crisp on the underside. Do not overcook if you want the pavlovas to be marshmallow-like on the inside as a pavlova should be! If the pavlovas begin to brown too quickly simply cover them loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil. Remove them from the oven to cool on cooling racks.

This is half of the recipe suggested by the Daring Bakers but I found it quite enough

¾ cup (190 ml) heavy cream, chilled
4 ½ oz (125 g) semisweet chocolate (Lindt 70%), chopped
6.6 fluid ounces (195 ml) mascarpone
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 Tbs Amaretto (can be replaced by 1 tsp vanilla)

Place ¼ cup (65 ml) of the heavy cream in a sauce over medium heat. When warm, add the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate is just melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. It will thicken slightly.

Place the mascarpone and the remaining cream in a large bowl. Add the nutmeg. Whip on low speed until the mascarpone is loose and smooth. Add the Amaretto and continue to beat on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. Do not overbeat or the mascarpone will break.

Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten, then beat in the remainder until well incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

CRÈME ANGLAISE (for use in the Vanilla Sauce)
This is half the recipe suggested by the Daring Bakers, but again, I found it to be quite enough

½ cup (120 ml) whole milk
½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream
½ Tsp vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
3 Tbs (38 g) sugar

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until they turn pale yellow. Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over a medium high heat, bringing the mixture to the boil. Remove from the heat.

Pour about ¼ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly so that you do not end up with scrambled eggs.

Pour the yolk mixture back into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on low.* Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it is thick enough to lightly cover the back of the spoon. Do not overcook.

Remove the mixture from the heat and strain into a bowl through a fine mesh sieve. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, 2 hours or overnight.

* If the cream curdles – which may happen if the heat is too high and the cream gets too hot – simply remove the pan from the heat and whisk in a few tablespoons of cold heavy cream. Whisk for a few minutes until it smooths and thickens a bit and then push through the sieve. Chill in the refrigerator over night. It will be thick and smooth enough to use in the Vanilla Sauce.

VANILLA SAUCE (Mascarpone Cream)

Again, this is half the recipe suggested by the Daring Bakers.

1 recipe Crème Anglaise (above)
¼ cup (65 ml) mascarpone
1 Tbs Amaretto (or 1 tsp vanilla)
¼ cup (65 ml) heavy cream

Slowly whip the mascarpone and the Amaretto into the chilled Crème Anglaise until thick and creamy. Put the cream in a bowl (preferably chilled) and beat with an electric mixer until very soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture.


Anonymous said...

Mmmm! That looks delicious.

Hope you and Clare enjoy the footie this afternoon. I'll be backing Germany but will probably end up watching Ray Davies (of the Kinks) in the 'oldie' slot at Glastonbury. :)


Jamie said...

@Rosie - sadly, Clare is off to Switzerland and will be watching the match with an English friend there. I'll be here thinking of Clare supporting England and my friend Meeta supporting Germany while I'll be grumbling about USA's loss last night. The USA players were too nice while the Ghanans made sure they were kicking out feet right and left. Grrr.

asiangrrl said...

Jamie, I love the pic of you and Clare. It sounds like you two had a grand time! The pistachio pavlova looks out-of-this-world delicious and not mad at all! I'm sad that the US is out, in part because Americans were actually getting excited about soccer.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What delightful pavlovas! You did a great job as usual!

I'm not at all a football person, but your little get-together sounds so very pleasant...



Cey said...

Wow! That looks delicious and it's so beautiful *_*

Deeba PAB said...

FUN FUN FUN Jamie. You did it in style. LHow sweet Clare is, and I love your passion for the game. I was shaking mnay a fist too sistah! And BTW, hub dear mentioned as well that no one covered poor old Wimbledon which seems to be going down without a whimper! Love the flavours on your pavs... light, airy and delish!
PS Love the pink toe nails and that shot too!! xoxo
{All set for the Germany vs England match in a few hours}

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Nice one Jamie - I love your take on this and I am happy you made a real pav not a big old meringue! The Aussie in me says "Good on ya!"

(and sorry - I LOVE that Ghana won. All my other teams - Australia and France are out so I like to root a little for the underdog)

Audax said...

Your pistachio pav is amazing your recipe is very close to the traditional Aussie pavlova recipe. I just love your passion for the beautiful game and I'm rooting for the best team to win (not a bad decision by a ref)even I have been watching the game late at night. Stunning photos Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Ana Powell said...

Great combination, so perfect and delicious ♥

shaz said...

Love that photo of the two little feet on the table! Gorgeous pavs (as we aussies call them), and pistachios look and taste amazing with chocolate don't they?

DebbieK said...

Love watching the World Cup...fell in love with pavlovas living 8 years in Australia(yours looks amazing) and absolutely am charmed by Marty's expression looking at your and your adorable!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Hehe I love it that this month's challenge is a pavlova as it's an Australian dessert (or New Zealand depending on who you're talking to :P ). What a delicious flavouring idea Jamie! :D

Aparna said...

I'm afraid the footie fever passed me by, as I'm not a sports fan.
But the pavlova, that looks good. Great idea to use the pistachios, colourful too.

thepassionatecook said...

i am loving the idea of pavlova without the whipped cream! choco mousse is such an indulging treat and even more so if sitting on a giant pavlova... i will definitely try this very soon!

girlichef said...

What a fun post, Jamie! The pavlova looks divine...but I love the pics of you girls together the best...the feet w/ the champagne & futbol and the one with Marty watching you...too adorable!! How fun. Hubby & I watch, too...since US is out, we're rooting for Mexico! =)

Maria said...

Oh I love pistachios... and pavlova! What a great combination!

Bonnie said...

Jamie, These are beautiful. I sometimes make my pavlovas with raspberry vinegar. They are divine. I'm for sure trying your pistachio recipe. It's a creative twist.

ABowlOfMush said...

Wow this looks amazing! So delicious!

I've been watching every match too!! I come from a very football mad family and pretty much support anyone who plays England hehe.

Heavenly Housewife said...

What a fabulous pavlova. I am head over heals for anything where pistachio is the main ingredient. Hope you had a fab weekend.
*kisses* HH

faithy, the baker said...

Your pavlova just blew me away! I love the presentation and everything on the plate! Wish i could have a plate too!

MeetaK said...

oh yeah the World Cup! As Germany moves on after beating England a wild frenzy has broken out here!

loving the pavlova. i usually make it with cornstarch etc. too love the texture of the insides. brilliant job jamie!

Chez Us said...

Jamie, amazing dessert. I love pistachios and chocolate - winning combination. The color of your pistachios are nothing like what I find in the states, so vibrant!

This was a great post brought back a flood of childhood memories, L&S were a great dynamic duo weren't they! Glad you got a chance to have some fun with Clare!

Jasmine said...

This pavlova must have been delicious! You're a serius daring baker!! :)
Un abbraccio,

sunita said...

I'm not that much of a footie fan, but I do tend to get carried away by all the action.

Your pavlova, on the other hand looks like something I wouldn't mind being a fan of :-)

Heather Davis said...

My daughter and I were travelling back from Birmingham last week and trying to find coverage of the longest match ever in tennis history. Did we find anything? No just football, football and more football. Frankly the whole thing bores me! Give me tennis any day. That pavlova looks divine too. I love pistachios in meringue. I wasn't able to do this challenge an last week was ridiculously busy. Hopefully things will be calmer next month! Hx

Peter M said...

I too am on a pistachio kick. You watch the World Cup in style, dont'cha?

A light, wafty dessert and rather striking on that plate. Is it okay to have this for breakfast?

Jamie said...

@Peter: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacktime or dessert! You bet!

bunkycooks said...

This is a beautiful interpretation of this month's challenge. I love the mix of flavors and I am sure that it is a bit lighter than the original version. (I will be posting mine later today). Glad you had so much fun with your friend. Those truly are some of the best times!

catty said...

All your pavlova daring bakers entries are driving me CRAZEE! luckily i just learnt how to make pavlova too otherwise I'd be banging all your doors down right now :) Looks FABULOUS as usual and love the pistachios!

Juls @ Juls' Kitchen said...

Jamie, look at your pavlova! I love the idea of pistachio, for the crunchy side and also for their lovely and bright colour!
Great job, as always!!

chris said...

Fun! Pistachios + meringue + Mascarpone = love!

elra said...

Oh Jaime, you had me on the pistachios, I love it! They look delicious !

Sippity Sup said...

In general there has not been much world cup hysteria here in Los Angeles, but this weekend for the Mexico game I did notice a certain tension in the air. Pavlovas might have made up for the disappointment so many Mexican born Angelinos were feeling. GREG

Mary said...

Oh, that thud you heard was my self-control jumping from the window at the sight of those gorgeous pavlovas. Jamie, they are beautiful. I love today's backstory, but it was especially nice to see you and Clare together. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Sophie said...

MMMMMMM,...Jamie! What luscious creations!!

The pistachio pavlova looks exctremely tasty!!!

Very pretty too!

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Those pavlovas with the green pistachio dust look so wonderful! I did mine in such a hurry I have stuck to the basic recipe but I'm enjoying looking at everyone else's versions.

I love the picture of your toes and the popcorn in front of the telly!!!!

Juliana said...

Oh! Your pavlovas look so yummie, like the idea of pistachio in it...very nice!

Asha @ FSK said...

Jamie... Love your take on the challenge.. mm.. pistachios.. I love how easily they elevate the dessert!

Nachiketa said...

I'm not much of a football person, but friends getting together sounds awesome... we had a reunion too..

ure pistachio pav look awesome,love the presentation

The Variable, Crazy Over Desserts - Nachiketa
Catch me on facebook @ Crazy Over Desserts

Lisa said...

You know what's funny..I'm a huge huge baseball (yankees) and football (giants) fan, but I never quite got into 'futbol'. I think I need to, and not only because it's exciting, but my goodness, those boys are rather gorgeous lol

I love that you made pistachio pavlovas and they are gorgeous! I sprinkled some on one of my preparations, but I wish I had thought to incorporate it more into the whole dessert. Fav eating nut, hands down. Beautiful job as always, Jamie :)

Barbara Bakes said...

I'll always think of DB as that time of the month now. LOL. Your version sounds heavenly.

Cristie said...

Of course these look wonderful, and I loved your post! I actually got to try one of versions of Barbara Bakes and they were delicious! I'm sure yours were sooo tasty as well. I need to become daring and try one of these recipes soon . . .

Renata said...

Love the way you played with the flavors! I'd love to try your pistachio version of this pavlova!

Nicisme said...

Another lovely post Jamie! How lovely to catch up with friends and share such a delicious dessert.

Y said...

I've been so busy with work that I totally missed this challenge. And have been missing quite a few of the World Cup matches too. Disappointed on both counts!

Junglefrog said...

O yes, the worldcup!! Since we are now officially in the final since this night... I might actually have to watch a game (not a big football fan, but I don't need to watch to be able to hear if Holland scored..It's quite funny really)
Your pavlova looks absolutely gorgeous ofcourse and totally delicious...! It's been forever that I last made a pavlova!

Colleen said...

Such a fabulously stylish post. Loved those varnished tootsies peeking sexily over the table with the champers and popcorn accompanying them and the football in the background hehe. This dessert is just divine. Shall have to add it to my bulging 'to do' recipe folder. Hugs sweet Jamie xx


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