It’s been a long while since I’ve talked about The Daring Kitchen. The last time was when I shared about canning apple butter for the first time. It’s kinda sad because it truly is one of my most favorite things to participate in. I learn so much when I complete the challenges, including that I really am capable of making some pretty great stuff!
For those new to The Daring Kitchen, it’s a website that has two parts: The Daring Bakers and The Daring Cooks. As their website states: “The premise of both groups is to create one recipe each month, given to us by a monthly host. We all create the same exact recipe and then post about it on our personal blogs on a designated date.”
I’m back into my groove and am VERY excited share the results of the most recent Daring Bakers’ 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.
The chocolate marquise and the meringue were the required parts of this challenge, but there was two optional parts which were Spiced Almonds and a Tequila Caramel Sauce. So, there was four components in all, which I decided early on (before reading everything) that I would definitely do. When I did read through all the instructions, I started feeling like this was a bit out of my league. Not only was there SO many steps, but it was things I had never done, plus the biggest parts of this involved mixing – and many of the instructions were geared towards someone with a stand mixer. I don’t have a stand mixer. I also don’t have a double broiler (needed for heating heavy cream) and I don’t have a candy thermometer (which is silly, because I learned the other day that they are NOT expensive). But I was determined and decided to do my best.
My first step was to create the chocolate marquise. I started by creating a chocolate base. I heated heavy cream until it was hot and poured it over bittersweet chocolate. The cream sat, untouched, with the chocolate for a minute or two and then I stirred it until the chocolate was completely melted.
After it was melted, I added some salt, cayenne, tequila, light corn syrup, vanilla, Dutch-processed cocoa, and a bit of unsalted butter.
Then I got started on the actual chocolate marquise. The first step was beating 11 egg yolks and 4 whole eggs for about 15 minutes until they were pale and thick (middle image). During this process, I created a sugar syrup by combining sugar and water in a pan. I was supposed to cook it to a “softball stage”, but didn’t have a candy thermometer, so I made a metal loop from wire to test it. This was tricky and my first batch was a total fail. I started over and I am pretty sure I got it right that time. The sugary syrup was then drizzled into the eggs (right photo) and I continue whipping.
Next, I whipped heavy cream into soft peaks. At least I think I did. Do you see on my mixer where I accidentally drizzled sugary syrup on it in the previous step? Ooops! The chocolate base is mixed into the eggs and then the whipped heavy cream is folded gently into the chocolate base/egg mixture.
I poured the chocolate marquise mixture into parchment paper lined pans. I filled an 8×8″, plus two smaller pans. These pans were then placed in the freezer for about 8 hours (left). After it froze and just before serving, the pieces were cut – they thaw quickly! Very carefully, I coated the pieces in Dutch-processed cocoa powder (right).
I put my hand mixer into overdrive and mixed up a white, fluffy meringue. This took forever! At one point I thought I had screwed it up, but it all started coming together and I was very happy. I also created a Tequila Caramel Sauce, which surprisingly EASY. It tasted so awesome.
I also made Spiced Almonds – TWICE! The first batch (left) was a total fail; burned them pretty badly. The second batch (right) wasn’t perfect, but it worked and they tasted good.
And finally, it was time to plate everything. I did my torched meringue first. I did my best to make the meringue look pretty on the plate and then I pulled out the blowtorch and had some FUN! After that, I drizzled the Tequila Caramel Sauce around and added a few of the Spiced Almonds. I’m really happy with the way this looks.
Now it was time for the chocolate marquise. These things are really soft at this point – think of a more decadent, flavorful frozen fudge bar, but slightly thawed – so it was a bit tricky. But, I did it! Lookie there!
I know I say this with every Daring Kitchen challenge, but I’m SO happy I participated. Not only was this dessert AMAZING, but I learned so many things. Every part of the creation was new to me: the marquise, the meringue, using the blowtorch, cooking with tequila, making a caramel sauce, making the spiced almonds! Gosh, even plating something in this way was a first! My entire family raved about it too – felt so good to hear them saying “WOW!” and “you did a really good job on this!”. Great experience all around.
Now, I wonder…would I make this entire dessert again? I could see doing it if I was wanting to make something VERY special. It was THAT good. I can definitely see making the tequila caramel sauce again. And the spiced almonds would make a perfect Christmas gift. I’m also rather fond of meringues so that will probably be done again.