Chocolate Marquise - A Daring Baker's Challenge

Chocolate Marquise
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.

As my first Daring Kitchen challenge since I moved to Portugal (also the first of the Baker's variety since the blog renovation!), I was looking forward to getting back into the kitchen to do something that wasn't my standard/usual foods. This month's Daring Baker's challenge definitely didn't disappoint!

We were to make a Chocolate Marquise, which I had never heard of until the challenge. It's an outrageously decadent chocolate dessert that gives you a fantastic amount of contrasting textures and tastes that meld so well that your first instinct when taking a bite of each component is to close your eyes and say "Mmm..." It truly is that good. And unlike many desserts for me, it wasn't overwhelming in the sweet department either!
Chocolate Marquise
Chocolate Marquise

Servings: 9 2.5"x2.5" (6?cm x 6?cm) cubes
  • 6 large egg yolks at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams/ 2? oz) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (1? fluid oz/ 40 ml.) water
  • Chocolate Base, barely warm (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup (8 fluid oz./ 250 ml.) heavy cream
  • 1 cup Dutch process cocoa powder (for rolling) (Note: We used extra brut, like Hershey's Special Dark. Make sure it's a Dutch processed cocoa, not a natural cocoa powder.)
  • Torched meringue (recipe follows)
  • Spiced almonds (recipe follows)
  • Cacao nibs (optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg yolks and whole eggs. Whip on high speed until very thick and pale, about 10 - 15 minutes.

When the eggs are getting close to finishing, make a sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring the syrup to a boil and then cook to softball stage (235F/115C). If you have a cake tester with a metal loop for a handle, the right stage for the syrup is reached when you can blow a bubble through the loop (as seen in the following pictures).

With the mixer running on low speed, drizzle the sugar syrup into the fluffy eggs, trying to hit that magic spot between the mixing bowl and the whisk.

When all of the syrup has been added (do it fairly quickly), turn the mixer back on high and whip until the bowl is cool to the touch. This will take at least 10 minutes.

In a separate mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Set aside.
When the egg mixture has cooled, add the chocolate base to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Try to get it as consistent as possible without losing all of the air you've whipped into the eggs. We used the stand mixer for this, and it took about 1 minute.

Fold 1/3 of the reserved whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, and then fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Pour into the prepared pans and cover with plastic wrap (directly touching the mixture so it doesn't allow in any air).
Pour into pans

Freeze until very firm, at least 2 - 4 hours (preferably 6 – 8 hours).
When you're ready to plate, remove the marquise from the freezer at least 15 minutes before serving. While it's still hard, remove it from the pan by pulling on the parchment 'handles' or by flipping it over onto another piece of parchment.
Un-mold the frozen marquise

Cut it into cubes and roll the cubes in cocoa powder. These will start to melt almost immediately, so don't do this step until all of your other plating components (meringue, caramel, spiced nuts, cocoa nibs) are ready. The cubes need to sit in the fridge to slowly thaw so plating components can be done during that time. They don’t need to be ready before the cubes are rolled in the cocoa powder.
Rolling in cocoa powder

Plate with the torched meringue and drizzled caramel sauce, and toss spiced almonds and cocoa nibs around for garnish. You want to handle the cubes as little as possible because they get messy quickly and are difficult to move. However, you want to wait to serve them until they've softened completely. The soft pillows of chocolate are what make this dessert so unusual and when combined with the other elements, you'll get creamy and crunchy textures with cool, spicy, salty, bitter, and sweet sensations on your palate.

Chocolate Base

Servings: n/a - this is an ingredient for the chocolate marquise, not meant to be used separately
  • 6 oz (170 grams/ ¾ cups) bittersweet chocolate (about 70% cocoa)
  • ¾ cups (180 ml/6 fluid oz.) heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/8 cup (30 ml/ 1 fluid oz.) tequila
  • 1/8 cup (30 ml/ 1 fluid oz.) light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons/less than 1/2 ounce) cocoa powder (we used extra brut, like Hershey's Special Dark, but any Dutch-processed cocoa would be fine. Do not substitute natural cocoa powder.)
  • 1/16 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 oz unsalted butter (1 tablespoon/15 grams), softened
Place the chocolate in a small mixing bowl.
In a double-boiler, warm the cream until it is hot to the touch (but is not boiling). Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate.
Allow it to sit for a minute or two before stirring. Stir until the chocolate is melted completely and is smooth throughout.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Set aside until cooled to room temperature. Do not refrigerate, as the base needs to be soft when added to the marquise mixture. If you make it the day before, you may need to warm it slightly. Whisk it until it is smooth again before using it in the marquise recipe.

Torched Meringue

Servings: Makes about 2 – 2½ cups of meringue. If you aren't planning on serving *all* of the marquise at once, you might want to scale this recipe back a bit.
  • 6 large egg whites
  • ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (210 ml) (7 oz or 200 gms) sugar
  • Splash of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Combine the egg whites, sugar and vinegar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using your (clean, washed) hand, reach in the bowl and stir the three together, making sure the sugar is moistened evenly by the egg whites and they make a homogeneous liquid.

Over a saucepan of simmering water, warm the egg white mixture. Use one hand to stir the mixture continuously, feeling for grains of sugar in the egg whites. As the liquid heats up, the sugar will slowly dissolve and the egg whites will thicken. This step is complete when you don't feel any more sugar crystals in the liquid and it is uniformly warm, nearly hot.

Remove the mixing bowl from the saucepan and return it to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk until you reach soft peaks. In the last 10 seconds of mixing, add the vanilla to the meringue and mix thoroughly.

When you're ready to plate the dessert, spoon the meringue onto a plate (or use a piping bag) and use a blowtorch to broil.

Tequila Caramel

Servings: Makes about 1/2 cup of caramel
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml/4 fluid oz) (4 oz/115 gm) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (2 fluid oz./60 ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (4 fluid oz./120 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon tequila
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water on medium-high heat. Boil until the water completely evaporates and the sugar caramelizes to a dark mahogany color.

Working quickly, add the cream to the darkened caramel. It will bubble and pop vigorously, so add only as much cream as you can without overflowing the pot.

Return the pot to the stove on low heat and whisk gently to break up any hardened sugar. Add any remaining cream and continue stirring. Gradually, the hard sugar will dissolve and the caramel sauce will continue to darken. When the caramel has darkened to the point you want it, remove it from the heat. Add the salt and tequila and stir to combine. Set aside until ready to serve.

Spiced Almonds
Servings: Makes about 1 cup of spiced almonds
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup (145 grams/ 5 oz.) blanched whole almonds
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt.
In a larger mixing bowl whisk the egg white until it's frothy and thick.
Add the spice mix to the egg white and whisk to combine completely.
Add the nuts to the egg white mixture and toss with a spoon.
Spoon the coated nuts onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake the nuts for 30 minutes, or until they turn light brown. Allow the nuts to cool completely and they will get very crunchy. Set aside until ready to serve.
The recipes above are straight from The Daring Kitchen post for this month’s challenge. If you would like to check out what the others have done and the recipes please go to The Daring Kitchen website!

Chocolate Marquise
As normal, I made a few changes to my Marquise. First of all, I must let you know that corn syrup doesn't seem to exist in Portugal, or if it does I couldn't find it for the life of me.  So what I did instead was make extra of the sugar syrup by adding 2 extra tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of water to the chocolate base recipe above before the addition to the fluffy egg yolks.

Another thing I did was instead of cayenne pepper in the recipes, I used a couple of pinches of ground piri piri pepper and substituted tequila for Port (though this was reduced to half cause of the kiddo).

I also didn't have almonds to work with, so I used walnuts instead!

A little note about servings, this was a half batch of the original recipe and I was able to get 15 servings out of it (they weren't small servings). I should have done the quarter version.

This was a huge hit with the in-laws, o Marido, and myself. The kiddo not so much. I would have thought this would have been perfect for him, but alas no. I suppose it just wasn't sweet enough in the chocolate (what with it being bittersweet and not milk chocolate).

However, if you don't need your desserts to have a pound of sugar in it (though this did have plenty!) the crunchy, smooth, salty, sweet, cool, and warm textures and flavors will be a pleasant experience for any one!


Jenn said...

wow, what a decadent dessert! I may have to try this, especially considering it's naturally gluten free too :)