My mom regularly sends me clippings from various magazines or newspapers. Cartoons, funny pictures, anything that she thinks will make me chuckle. A couple of weeks ago, I received a tiny cut out with this quote from Julia Child:

“The measure of achievement is not winning awards. It’s doing something that you appreciate, something you believe is worthwhile. I think of my strawberry souffle. I did that at least twenty-eight times before I finally conquered it.”

I hung it on my fridge thinking my roommates might get a kick out of it, and they did, but I was the one who was inspired after starting, and restarting, and restarting again this month’s daring bakers challenge.

This month the challenge was pavlova.  It’s a type of Australian cake in three layers consisting of meringue base topped with mousse and drizzled with crème anglaise.  Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is.

Before I got a chance to try it I saw an image of a different take on the pavlova. Instead of flat layers, it was rolled into a beautiful log. A couple of google image searches later I decided I’d be ambitious and try this deceptively simple take on pavlova.

The problem is, fully baked meringue is hard, it doesn’t like to roll. And soft meringue is gooey and loves to adhere itself to my counter.

I’ll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say, my counter saw a lot of meringue and a giant tupperware in my freezer had a growing pile of failed desert.

Each unsuccessful rendition I would swear off pavlova for life…and then Julia Child would grin at me from the fridge gently urging me to keep going. What a pain this woman is!

Let’s not dwell on what didn’t work. Instead, I’ll share with you what I did great. That way, you can imitate the good stuff and well…I don’t have to feel like such a failure!

All official daring baker recipes can be found here.

For the first couple tries I did a chocolate meringue, white chocolate mousse and white chocolate crème anglaise, kind of like an oreo. I switched to mint chocolate half way through just for novelty. Both were amazing so I’ve included the recipes for both here.

Also, both the original mousse and crème anglaise recipes contained large amounts of mascarpone cheese, so daring bakers forgive me, I used an entirely different recipe for these layers.


Make the mousse layer and crème anglaise layer ahead of time and let cool in fridge for a few hours before beginning meringue.

Layer 1: Meringue

3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder – My favorite version was made with Hershey’s Special Dark

Directions for Rolled Pavlova

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350º F (95º C) degrees. Grease a jellyroll pan and line with parchment paper.

  1. 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.)

  1. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder 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.)
  2. Spread the meringue into prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes turning halfway through. Let cool for 5-10 minutes and then quickly flip onto a second greased sheet of parchment. Once flipped carefully peel off the original baking parchment.

Layer 2: Mousse

I decided to use Julia Child’s perfect chocolate mousse recipe for two reasons. One, it’s GOOD. Heaven you can eat with a spoon. Never had I had something so rich, yet so airy. But also, it’s the only mousse recipe out there that involves no whipped cream, another impossibly difficult milk item to substitute. And if you’re not sold yet, if you say, drop your pavlova on the counter and have a lot left of mousse left over you can stick it in the freezer to turn it into a thick dairy free ice cream.

Oh yes, and at the risk of Julia Child haunting me from the grave..I used margarine instead of butter…eek!

White chocolate OR mint chocolate mousse adapted from Julia Child’s Perfect Chocolate Mousse as printed in Mastering the Art of French Cooking:

6 ounces (170g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped (replace with white chocolate for white chocolate mousse)

6 ounces (170g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup (60ml) dark-brewed coffee
4 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup (170g), plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons (30ml) dark rum (I used coffee again thinking rum might overpower the chocolate)
1 tablespoon (15ml) water
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For mint chocolate, use an additional ½ tsp mint extract

1. Heat a saucepan one-third full with hot water, and in a bowl set on top, melt together the chocolate, butter and coffee, stirring over the barely simmering water, until smooth. Remove from heat.

2. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.

3. In a bowl large enough to nest securely on the saucepan of simmering water, whisk the yolks of the eggs with the 2/3 cup of sugar, rum, and water for about 3 minutes until the mixture is thick, like runny mayonnaise. (You can also use a handheld electric mixer.)

3. Remove from heat and place the bowl of whipped egg yolks within the bowl of ice water and beat until cool and thick, as shown in the photo above. Then fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks.

4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy. Continue to beat until they start to hold their shape. Whip in the tablespoon of sugar and continue to beat until thick and shiny, but not completely stiff, then the vanilla.

5. Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder of the whites just until incorporated, but don’t overdo it or the mousse will lose volume.

6. Transfer the mousse to a serving bowl or divide into serving dishes, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm.

Storage: The mousse au chocolat can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Layer 3: Crème Anglaise

I really have an aversion to the egginess of crème anglaise, so after the first try I made a runny white chocolate pudding thickened with corn starch to drizzle over the pavlova. Maybe not traditional, but I enjoyed it.

White chocolate pudding

3 cups milk of choice

¼ cup corn starch

1/3 – 2/3 cup sugar

4 oz white chocolate

1 tbsp butter.

1 tsp vanilla

Whisk sugar with milk and corn starch in a double boiler. Turn on heat to medium, whisk continuously until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in butter and white chocolate until melted. Stir in vanilla.

Putting it all together:

Ok, you’ve made your layers, thought that was tough? Oh just wait…

Spread the mousse over the meringue (you won’t use all of it). Begin rolling one end of the meringue carefully removing the paper as you do so. Once you’ve got it all rolled up, sprinkle with a mix of powdered sugar and cocoa and decorate with melted chocolate. Serve in a pool of creme anglaise.

Dark chocolate meringue with White Chocolate Mousse:

Dark Chocolate Meringue with Mint Chocolate Mousse:

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