This past Friday was one of my favorite events of the month: Ladies Supper Club. It’s a monthly dinner that rotates hosts, with each gal bringing one of the courses for the meal (usually based on a theme of the host’s choosing. It’s a wonderful time to let go, catch up, experiment with recipes and have an all-around-good time. If you’re interested in starting your own, I’ll be doing a post later this week with tips to set it up.
But that’s not what this post is about.
This post is about chocolate.
This month’s theme was (you guessed it) chocolate, with the host serving Seitan in Mole sauce (with a cocoa kick). My course was dessert, which I’ll admit was a little intimidating. I decided that since we were going to be having hits of chocolate throughout the evening, I didn’t want to overdo it–no thick chocolate cakes covered in chocolate frosting (although just typing that makes my taste buds leap).
I wanted something that was chocolate through and through, but still fairly light. When I heard the words “chocolate” and “dessert”, the cover of How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson immediately popped into my head. I began browsing through some dessert recipes on Nigella’s website and stumbled on Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova. I’ve made meringue-based desserts in the past but hadn’t tried adding flavors (like chocolate) or doing a large pavlova-style meringue. It was almost perfect! Almost, because as mouth-watering as the raspberries and cream on top looked, it wasn’t quite chocolaty enough.
After a quick search on AllRecipes.com, I had a highly rated recipe for Chocolate Mousse and a vision for the ideal franken-recipe:
Chocolate Mousse Pavlova
(adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova)
• 6 large egg whites
• 2 cups superfine sugar (if you have a food processor, pulse regular sugar in it to make it superfine. It will make the meringue lighter and fluffier)
• 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
• 1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
• 2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
• 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
• 3 tablespoons water
• 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
• 1-½ tablespoons vanilla extract
• 1-½ 2 cups whipping cream
• 3 tablespoons sugar
[note: you only need 6 eggs for this recipe—put aside three of the yolks in a bowl when you separate them]
Make the mousse: In a small heavy saucepan, melt chocolate chips with water over low heat; stir until smooth. Stir a small amount of hot chocolate mixture into egg yolk; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Cool, stirring several times. In a mixing bowl, beat whipping cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar; beat until soft peaks form. Fold in cooled chocolate mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Make the meringue: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Draw a 9-inch-diameter circle on the paper (I just traced a 9” round cake pan). You can flip the paper over so the meringue won’t touch the ink/pencil but you can still see the circle.
Beat the egg whites with a mixer until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle the cocoa, vinegar and then the chopped chocolate over the egg whites.
Gently fold everything with a rubber spatula until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in. Secure the parchment to the baking sheet with a dab of meringue under each corner. Mound the meringue onto the parchment within the circle, smoothing the sides and the top with a spatula.
Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees F and cook for one to one and a quarter hours. When it’s ready, it should look crisp and dry on top, but when you prod the center you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly; let the chocolate meringue disk cool completely in the oven.
When you’re ready to serve, invert onto a large, flat plate and peel off the parchment. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to spread the mousse on top, and grate a piece of dark chocolate over the mousse for a nice finishing touch.
This recipe is great when you need to take a dessert to a party—you can bring them separately and quickly put the pavlova together when you arrive. Both the meringue and the mousse can be made up to a day ahead: the mousse should be kept covered in the fridge and the meringue in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
Oh. And it’s fabulously, heavenly delicious.