So holy crap! When they call these Daring Bakers things "challenges", they do in fact mean to challenge you.
Because I had no idea what a marquise is, and I'm still slightly hazy on the whole concept, I clung desperately to the original recipe with no real variation. Ok, so really no variations except to half it. The end result was delightfully delicious, but getting there made me thankful for the leftover tequila that didn't go into the dessert.
What you see in the picture is a chocolate marquise under a torched meringue with a tequila caramel sauce and spiced almonds.
More in depth, the marquise is an intensely rich pillow of soft chocolate with hints of cayenne and tequila. It is then softened in the fridge after freezing. It's not as hard as ice cream, but can't quite be called a mousse. Really, it's soft, sexy, and chocolate-y.
I can't take credit for coming up with the complimenting garnishes since they were the suggestions. But I enjoyed that the flavors in the garnishes, tequila in the caramel sauce and cayenne in the almonds, matched the flavors in the marquise itself.
I appreciated that this challenge really took me outside my baking comfort zone.
I played with hot boiling sugar not once, but twice, and lived to tell about it! I learned that I should probably invest in a candy thermometer instead of using, er, trying to hold a 4-inch meat thermometer in a pot of hot boiling splattering sugar as it reaches 235 degrees...
I borrowed a torch from a friend, which taught me that playing with fire in the kitchen is beyond fun and that I also need to invest in my own torch. Expect to see more fire coming out of my kitchen, preferably in the form of skillfully torched culinary masterpieces and not the kind that requires a fire department visit. Although that could be fun too...
And most importantly, this challenge emphasized the idea of fully reading through the entire recipe at least once before starting. I think I read this one at least 10 before starting. It took at least 3 tries to begin to understand what I needed to do, and another 5 times before I felt like I had a plan in place.
And to those of you Daring Bakers who casually mentioned that you did all your mixing by hand because you don't own a mixer, God bless you. The thought of whisking until soft peaks form makes my heart hurt. My little Kitchenaid earned its keep a million times over for this one challenge alone. So I salute you, hand mixing champions.
It would be a lie to tell you I fully enjoyed making this dessert. I used many swear words and was glad to finally serve it and be done. But I give massive props to any recipe this challenging that can withstand my blundering through it and still turn out so well. Thanks for the challenge ladies! Next month's challenge certainly has some big shoes to fill...