Daring Bakers May Challenge: Chocolate Marquise on Meringue

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.

"When we learned we’d be hosting a Daring Bakers challenge, we knew this was the dessert to share with all the other bakers willing to take it on. Why is this dessert so special? Well, for starters, it’s rare for us to meet anyone who’s even heard of a marquise, much less tasted one. Nobody makes this dessert anymore. I found a recipe for it in a professional pastry curriculum, but I’ve almost never seen it in mainstream cookbooks, and rarely is it written about online (although there seem to be plenty of photographs). We’d better share it if we want to keep it alive.
It’s also a fairly involved dessert, if you make all of the components. Imagine a cube of spicy and creamy chocolate resting on a tuft of something that tastes like burnt marshmallow cream, drizzled with tequila caramel, spicy nuts, and some cacao nibs. Yum. But take away all of those accoutrements, and you have a lot of technique in these recipes, things you may not get to do every day. When was the last time you worked with a frozen mousse? Boiled meringue? A blowtorch?"

Yes, they were right. I have never heard of or seen a recipe for a marquise.It tasted intersting but I had a hard time making it. First, I learned again that it is important to read correctly because there IS a difference between egg yolks and egg whites - which was the reason I had do toss the first attempt away. Second, I still did something wrong. My marquise didn't get solid enough for cutting or any kind of shaping. That's the reason for this lump in the middle of the meringue. Third, the method for making the meringue was quite different but idiot proof. My meringue got creamy, stiff but still fluffy without any problems. If everyone was experiencing the problems I had while making, I do not wonder why nobody makes it anymore ...

Chocolate Marquise
Servings: 6 2"x2" (5cmx5cm) cubes
  • 3 large egg yolks at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (40 ml) (40 grams/ 1½ oz) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (2/3 fluid oz/ 20 ml.) water
  • Chocolate Base, barely warm (recipe follows)
  • ½ cup (4 fluid oz./ 120 ml.) heavy cream
  • ½ cup Dutch process cocoa powder (for rolling
  • Torched meringue (recipe follows)
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 picture). 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). 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.
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. 

Chocolate Base 
this is an ingredient for the chocolate marquise, not meant to be used separately
  • 3 oz (85 grams/ 6 tablespoons) bittersweet chocolate (about 70% cocoa)
  • 1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons (90 ml/3 fluid oz.) heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/16 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml/ 1/2 fluid oz.) tequila
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml/ 1/2 fluid oz.) light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon/(less than 1/4 ounce) cocoa powder 
  • dash freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 oz unsalted butter (1/2 tablespoon/8 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
Makes about 1 cup of meringue

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon (105 ml) (3½ oz or 100 gms) sugar
  • Splash of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 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.

Plate the marquise with the torched meringue and some caramel sauce, and toss spiced almonds (I used chocolate covered coffee beans) 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.

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