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Spicy 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.

Are you guys wearing your fancypants??  You’re going to need them for this dessert.  It’s famous, so you don’t want to be under-dressed.  That would be rude. What do your fancypants look like?  If I could design the pair in my mind, they would be purple, sparkly, and with a ruffly butt.  Totally class, right?  For some reason stirrups keep wanting to bombard my vision, but I think I’m going to pass on those.

Spicy Chocolate Marquise

Right.  So this dessert has kind of a lot of components, each requiring its own set of steps.  It was way overwhelming at first, but after reading over things a few times along with all the questions others were asking/answering in the DB forum, I realized that it wouldn’t be difficult, just time-consuming.  Definitely an exercise in planning, which isn’t really my forte.  But I did it!

I’m guessing the $1,000,000 question right now is: What the #$%^ is a marquise?!  It’s kind of like a chocolate mousse, but a little richer.  After making the base for it, you freeze it which allows you to cut it, coat it in cocoa powder, and place it on the meringue.  When you finally eat it, it’s so dreamy soft….mmmmm.  It’s not overly sweet, especially with the kick from the spices, and you know how I love me some spicy chocolate!

so sexy.

And when there’s also torched meringue, boozy caramel, and spiced nuts, how can it be anything but amazing??  (Answer: it can’t.) 

Spicy Chocolate Marquise with Torched Meringue, Tequila Caramel, and Spiced Almonds

Recipe Source: Emma and Jenny learned how to make this marquise dessert when they worked together at a Seattle restaurant.  The recipe is adapted from one developed by Bennie Sata, a Seattle-area pastry chef who introduced the city to one of its iconic chocolate desserts.

Okay, I’m going to paste the recipe as is, but will first explain how I tackled it.  You can do it in two or even one day, but be warned: this requires LOTS of dishwashing.

Day 1:
1. Whip the 1/2 cup heavy cream for the marquise and put it in a little container in the fridge.  No need to wash the mixing bowl after, just wipe it out.
2. Make the chocolate base.
3. Make the marquise.  (Save the egg whites in the fridge for the meringue!)  I froze mine in a lined muffin pan for super easy removal!

Day 2:
1. Make the spiced almonds.
2. Make the caramel.  (You can do this while the almonds are baking!)

Day 3:
1. Make the meringue.
2. Assemble!
3. EAT.

chocolate marquise cups

Chocolate Marquise

Many thanks to the always helpful Audax Artifex for quartering the recipe for us!  For me it made 7 cupcake-sized servings.

3 large egg yolks at room temperature
1 large egg
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon water
Chocolate Base, barely warm (recipe follows)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder (for rolling)
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).

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.

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 meets marquise base

Chocolate Base:

Note: I like spice, so I upped the amount of cayenne from 1/16 tsp and added chipotle powder for smokiness!

3 oz bittersweet chocolate (about 70% cocoa), chopped
1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons (3 fluid oz.) heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 tablespoon tequila
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (I used golden syrup)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
dash freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter softened

1. Place the chocolate in a small mixing bowl.
2. 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. [I totally used a microwave for this.]
3. Allow it to sit for a minute or two before stirring. Stir until the chocolate is melted completely and is smooth throughout.
4. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
5. 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.

Spiced Almonds! (pre-baking)

Spiced Almonds

Note: Just like the chocolate base, I used more cayenne and added chipotle powder!

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white
1 cup (145 grams/ 5 oz.) blanched whole almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt.
3. In a larger mixing bowl whisk the egg white until it’s frothy and thick.
4. Add the spice mix to the egg white and whisk to combine completely.
5. Add the nuts to the egg white mixture and toss with a spoon.
6. Spoon the coated nuts onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
7. 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.

Tequila Caramel!

Tequila Caramel

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons 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.

vavavoom! meringue.

Torched 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.  Many people used the broiler in their ovens for this, and some even used a candle lighter!  (My friend Julie let me borrow her torch.  Thanks, Julie!)

dreamy bite

Whew!!  Okay, I am just going to go ahead and tell you that I think this was all worth it.  This dessert is DANG good, and despite how long it took, it save me a trip to Seattle (though I would love to go someday).  It was also fun to play pastry chef!

And you know what?  This would probably be highly frowned upon at any fancy restaurant, but feel free to do it in the comfort of your own home, while wearing your pajamas fancypants:

You CAN do this at home.

Plate: licked.

Thank you, Emma and Jenny, for such a crazy challenge!  I ended up having fun and really loving the end result.  Definitely have some ideas for my own twist now that I know what the original recipe is like!  To see the full challenge write-up and all of the super creative variations that my fellow Daring Bakers made, click here.

Also!  If you’re vegan, Ashlae of Ladycakes veganized all of this!  (How do you make vegan meringue, right??  She did!)   You can find it with the challenge recipe linked above or on her blog here.