When I was young, I wanted to play with make-up. It seems strange that my job now involves food but from a very young age I recall licking red Smarties (like m&m's) and rubbing the wet red shell against my lips. I'd take red texta and colour in my finger and toe nails as brightly as I could. I was most fascinated by my mother's lipstick collection. So much so that one day she came home to find that I had opened up all of her fantastic lipsticks, and smooshed them against the lids where there were pretty logos (I saw it as a stamp) and I proceeded to stamp pieces of paper, her dressing table and her mirror with the red and pink stamps. I honestly thought that I had blinged up the place and didn't understand why she was so upset when she saw my effort.
One year they finally bought me my dream present, a Barbie fashion face. It was all that I wanted. Not only could I put make-up on a Barbie face, I could use the make-up on myself (which was what I really wanted to do). I opened the box excitedly taking out piece by piece searching for the red lipstick. I got to the bottom and couldn't find it. I went through the pile of items and there was no red lipstick. I looked all around me for the red lipstick and I couldn't find it.
"Mummy, they forgot to put the red lipstick in the box. Call them and ask for another!" I told her urgently. It seems that they hadn't forgotten to put it in. My mum recalling the last effort of mine with the red lipstick had removed the potentially vandalising item just to be sure that I wouldn't "stamp" the rest of the house with my mark. I was of course upset beyond belief. For a child, that had waited all year for this present it was devastating (and am I over it? I think not ;) ).
It's now many, many years later and when we were presented with this month's Daring Bakers challenge I wanted to do something to celebrate the history of the pavlova. I had already made a lot of pavlovas in my life as it is an Australian dessert but I wanted to do something that linked it to Anna Pavlova, the ballerina for whom it was created. There were pretty Royal Doulton bone china ballerinas but they were price prohibitive so I decided to use my own friend Barbie. I dragged Mr NQN along Barbie doll shopping and stood in front of the Barbie display dismayed to see that the Barbie Fashion Face was no longer.
I saw how Barbie had progressed and how her clothes and shoes had changed (I recall only one pair of heels for my Barbies, now there are multiple and with current styles no less!). I know Anna Pavlova was a brunette but this Barbie was able to be posed in a variety of poses and sort of had ballerina hair so I chose her. I know her skirt is a little less than perfect but the girls that I gave her to were absolutely delighted that I had managed to combine their two favourite things-Barbie and ballerinas!
So tell me Dear Reader, what was your favourite toy when you were young?
The challenge is primarily based on a recipe from Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard and is called Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse.
Recipe Source: Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard
Blog-checking lines: 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
Preparation time: The recipe can be made in one day although there are several steps involved.
- While the pavlovas are baking, the crème anglaise should be made which will take about 15 minutes.
- While it is cooling, the chocolate mascarpone mousse can be made which will take about 15 minutes.
- There will be a bit of a wait time for the mascarpone cream because of the cooling time for the Crème Anglaise.
- If you make the Crème Anglaise the day before, the dessert should take about 2 hours including cooking time for the pavlovas.
Baking sheet(s) with parchment or silpat
Piping bag with pastry tip
Hand or stand mixer
Recipe 1: Meringue (for the Pavlova):
5 large egg whites
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
1/3 cup confectioners (icing) sugar
Step 1 - 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.
Step 2 - 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.)
Step 3 - Sift the confectioners sugar 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.)
Step 4 - Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Make a circle with the meringue and using a offert palette knife try and draw tutu-ish patterns. It doesn't have to be exact (see picture).
Step 5 - Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Recipe 2: Mascarpone Mousse (for the top of the Pavlova base):
- 1 ½ cups (355 mls) heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
- 9 ounces (255 grams) white chocolate, chopped
- 1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone (don't forget we made this a few months ago - get the printable .pdf HERE)
- pinch of nutmeg
- 2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice)
Step 1 - Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.
Step 2 - Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)
Step 3 - Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse fitted with a small star tip.
Assembling the ballerina pavlova:
Once the pavlova is cooled, take out a serving plate. Carefully remove the parchment from the bottom of the pavlova. This is the trickiest bit and don't panic if bits break off. Cut a circle in the centre of the pavlova that will fit the Barbie doll inside. Slot the Barbie vertically through the hole and gently lay her down moving her legs in a mid leap position. If pieces fall off that is ok, it makes it easier to fill with the mousse. Pipe mousse under the pavlova skirt filling in bits that had fallen off or sunken down to make the skirt appear full. Then pipe around the skirt to simulate a frilly layer under the tutu and pipe around the hole where the Barbie was slotted in and pipe a top on her. Pipe small stars and place silver cachous in the centre of the stars.