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Friday, May 27, 2011

The May Daring Bakers' Challenge: Chocolate, Tequila and a Blow Torch!

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 Daring Bakers' Challenge is a group of novice bakers who take on a challenge each month by making an unusual or complicated recipe supplied to the members of the Daring Kitchen website. We then post and share our results, success and flops, on the 27th of each month.

You can download the recipe PDF by CLICKING HERE. The original recipe is a fairly large quantity so Audax Artifex one of the, if not the, most helpful members of the The Daring Kitchen split the recipe into a 1/2 and 1/4 batch for the rest of us. Just scroll to the end of the PDF for the smaller portions. I made the 1/4 batch.

Petite Bon Bons of Frozen Chocolate Marquise and Burnt Meringue

It took three tries to get my finishing steps and plating right. The finished desert was a cocoa powder covered (frozen) chocolate marquise, topped with a tequila caramel sauce, dusted with cayenne pepper powder, flakes of sea salt and topped with a petite burnt meringue. The flavors together were incredible! I will definitely be making this dessert again.


This was my first attempt. It was cute enough and tasty but I'd expected the flavor of cayenne pepper to be more pronounced and I needed to experiment more at burning the meringue with my new blow torch. Yes, I said blow torch!

And talking about hot, the caramel here is a different color than in my second and third attempts because it was warm to keep it liquified. It looks pretty but the warmth caused the marquise to begin melting so on subsequent attempts I used it chilled from the fridge and it was perfect.


My second attempt brought me closer. This is when I added a couple of shakes of cayenne powder and the crumbled flakes of finishing sea salt. WOW what a difference they made! That's cayenne powder dusted on the dessert and plate.


And because you're probably wondering what the marquise is like inside here's a split view. It's frozen but not hard frozen, more soft frozen like what a block of frozen mousse would be like. And it's so creamy!

The recipe says you can keep this in your freezer for up to six months making it a perfect dessert to serve to last minute guests. Just quickly whip up a small batch of meringue and caramel. I found day five to be the best. The marquise had both thickened and become more creamy and smooth by day five.


Now here's the funny thing. When I saw the recipe I read through it and thought it looked time consuming but pretty easy. And it was. The hard part turned out to be finding all of the necessary ingredients and equipment.

For instance, the recipe called for Dutch Process Cocoa (it should be unsweetened). It's different than other cocoas because it's treated with an alkali which neutralizes its acids.


It's important to make sure the package says "Dutch Process." The easiest to find might be the Hershey Special Dark Dutch Process Cocoa Powder. For a high grade cocoa you can order 8 ounces of Valrhona Dutch Process online. I finally found E. Guittard, another great brand, at Whole Foods after trying several other stores.


Next I needed a blow torch! No kidding. The recipe called for a burnt meringue like the way meringue is prepared on top of a lemon meringue pie. Friends immediately told me to go straight to the hardware store to buy one. They're more powerful and less expensive than the cute ones sold at culinary stores.

I purchased this Bernzomatic 2 Piece Fat Boy at Orchard Supply Hardware for around $25.


See that red button? It's a trigger, self igniter. It made the 2 PC kit of the torch head with cylinder cost a few dollars more but it seemed worth it for the convenience to not need a manual friction lighter.


Next I needed a Tablespoon of tequila. Not being a drinker or margarita lover I didn't want to buy a whole bottle. So I put out a plea on Facebook asking if any of my friends would give me a TBS in a Ziploc bag. LOL hubby said nobody would give me tequila in a Ziploc bag. He was so sure he bet me $5 and he almost never bets anyone anything. So I went back on Facebook and offered the $5 to anyone who would give me the tequila.


Turned out two of my friends, Elley and Loretta, both offered to give me some tequila. Because she offered first I ended up trading Elley a piece of chocolate cake leftover from the one I baked for the SF Food Blogger Bake Sale then bought back. She gave me 3 TBS which allowed me to also add the tequila to my caramel sauce.


Then I needed to get a candy thermometer. A quick trip to Sur la Table and I was set!

The ingredients for the Chocolate Base

The recipe is broken down into parts:

1. The Marquise
2. The Chocolate Base for the Marquise
3. Burnt Meringue
4. The Caramel Sauce (optional)
5. Spiced Nuts (optional)


Heating the Cream in a Double Boiler


The six steps to make the chocolate base:

  1. Add the chocolate to the warmed cream and allow to sit for 1-2 minutes
  2. Whisk until melted chocolate begins to blend into the cream
  3. Whisk until the cream is blended in and the chocolate is smooth
  4. Add in the rest of the ingredients
  5. I added the sugar last, a little at a time
  6. Whisk until smooth and set aside to cool but do not refrigerate
Egg Mixture Ingredients

Next I made the egg mixture for the marquise.

marquis-cream 2

7. Beat the eggs
8. Keep beating the eggs until fluffy (10-15 minutes)
9. Make a sugar syrup
10. I let my sugar syrup get a bit too dark, it happened so quickly, but it tasted just fine. Turned out a 1/4 batch is so small I couldn't use my new candy thermometer.
11. Mix the sugar syrup into the whipped egg mixture and beat for 10 more minutes

When the egg mixture has cooled mix in the chocolate base.


12. Make the whipped cream
13. Fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the now combined chocolate base and egg mixture
14. Whisk until incorporated
15.  Add in the remaining whipped cream and mix until incorporated


Line a baking pan with parchment.


Pour your marquise mixture into the pan.


Cover the chocolate mixture with Saran Wrap so that it is touching the mixture and place in freezer for a minimum of three hours. Six is even better and overnight is best.


Once your dessert is frozen lift it out of the cake pan with the parchment paper.


Mine looked like this. It was slightly soft to the touch but firm.

You can cut the marquise into square or other shapes. My best advice is not to make the portions too large. This dessert is so rich that just a few spoonfuls are enough. I used a small round biscuit cutter that made small two bite servings.

how-to-make-caramel-sauce 2

I passed on making the spiced nuts but was eager to try making the caramel sauce. It was so easy and really delicious! Just three steps:

  • Make sugar syrup allowing it to darken
  • Whisk in some heavy cream
  • Add flavors like the salt and tequila.

And that was it!


You can refrigerate the caramel and it tastes just fine!

Want to make it? I'll loan you my blow torch if you don't have one!

I love how the cayenne powder looks mixed on the caramel. The final step was piping the meringue mixture onto a cookie sheet and torching it. Once torched I lifted it up with a tiny spatula and placed it on top of the finished marquise and caramel sauce.

And here's my monthly  montage of creations by many of the other Daring Bakers. As always I post this to show you the range of creativity and interpretation that takes place when different people use the same recipe and take on the same challenge. Amazing right?


Row 1
Bake in Paris
Dolcetto Confections
Cocoa and Quinoa

Row 2
Fruits and Vegetables
Munchie Monkey
That skinny chick can bake!!!

Row 3
Testado, Provado e Aprovado!
Simply Cooking 101

Row 4
Korena in the Kitchen
Cherry Tea Cakes
cuisine à 4 mains

Thank you to Emma and Jenny! I really loved this challenge and the dessert. I will be purchasing a bottle of tequila for future batches.

If you would like to learn to make/bake things like this you should join the Daring Bakers too!

If you liked this post you'll enjoy these Bakers' Challenges too:

• January 2011: Fancy Joconde Imprime Entremet
• February 2011: Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies
• March 2011: Meringue Coffee Cakes
• April 2011: Maple Mousse in an Edible Container

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