I’m pretty sure i’ve been thinking about starting a food blog for almost a year now, and i’ve been seriously talking about it for a few months. However a combination of my hideous habit of procrastination coupled with an innate fear of computers has held me back. But no more, i’ve finally decided to pull my finger out and start. This is also partly because, living on an island where the majority of the food leaves a lot to be desired, all i do is dream of food so i figured i should unload some of it on you guys.
Well, definitely not the most exiting way to kick things off but here we go, the first recipe of the brand new blog. We’re going for pavlova, mainly (ok, only) because when i awoke yesterday morning Alex’s mum requested one for her dinner party of 14 tonight. To be honest, that’s fine by me as it’s so easy it means i can wizz through it and head out on the boat.
There is definitely something to be said for a dessert that takes minimal time but is always delicious, whilst i’ll quite happily while away the hours making an elaborate dessert, sometimes it’s great just to be able to whip something up in the flashiest of flashes and know that everyone will love it. It also means that i don’t have to worry about whether it will be child friendly. I think we have a few tiny guests tonight and i’m yet to meet a child who turns their nose up at pavlova (i’ve clearly just jinxed myself now and the children will hate it, fingers crossed this is not the case).
Also, i’ve found that a lot of people this side of the pond have never heard of pavlova and are delighted by all aspects of it, it’s obviously more of an english/aussie thing.For those of you that do fall into the ‘what the hell is that’ category, it’s basically a giant meringue, cooked so it’s nice and chewy on the middle and crispy on the outside. Once that’s all cooked, you whip up some cream so it’s all thick and billowy and smother that over the (cooled) meringue. Finally top it with the fruit of your choice and some kind of sauce if you want one- i usually do, i definitely follow the ‘everything is better with a sauce’ school of thought.
So anyway, a recipe is usually fairly helpful in this kind of situation so here we go:
Obviously i’m making this for 14 so you might want to scale it down a bit
For the meringue:
210g of egg whites ( i know it sounds like a pain but it’s SO much easier, and more precise to weigh them)
210g caster sugar
5g cocoa powder
Ok, first things first- make sure your bowl is clean. I mean super clean. Any trace of fat or oil at all and your egg whites will not whip. Preheat your oven to 150C/300F. Whisk your egg whites until they are really frothy and starting to look kind of thick. At this point you want to start adding your sugar, gradually. Either in thirds or just very slowly if you’re using an electric whisk or kitchen aid. I would seriously recommend this by the way or you’ll have a seriously tired arm by the end. That is of course unless you’re trying to beef up, in which case, do it by hand- just remember to switch arms half way.
It’s done when you can tip the bowl over your head and not end up looking like you’re wearing a smurf hat. I know it’s a cliche but it works. When it’s ready, spread it out onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. If you have a silmat, AMAZING, use that, if you don’t and you bake a lot, buy one, they’re invaluable.
Once it’s spread out (into whatever shape takes your fancy, i’m liking rectangles at the moment) dust it lightly with the cocoa powder and swirl it in with a skewer. Pop it into the oven for about 1 hour 15 mins. Check it after an hour though, just to be on the safe side, you want it crispy on top but still a bit sticky, gooey inside as it will harden a little as it cools.
500ml double or whipping cream (heavy in the us)
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract- if you can avoid vanilla essence then do, it’s usually not even from vanilla
Whip the cream, vanilla and icing sugar to soft peak- so it looks like this.
For the fruit:
I personally like quite a lot of fruit but if you want a bit more or a bit less then go for it.
2 1/2 punnets strawberries
Zest of an orange, juice of half.
Chop the strawberries into chunks, i wouldn’t worry about size or shape her, just go for whatever you feel like. Then finely grate the zest over and squeeze over the juice, toss it all together and leave everything to get cosy together for a while whilst you do everything else.
For the sauce:
This is such a simple sauce but it’s a really useful one, after all, who doesn’t like a bit of chocolate sauce every now and again?
100g dark chocolate
100g cream (the same as you used earlier for the whipped cream)
Break the chocolate into little chunks (or, of course, you can buy chocolate chips). Heat the cream and then pour over the chocolate and stir until all the chocolate has melted. You can obviously use the traditional method of melting the chocoate in a bain-marie and heating the cream separately before mixing the two together. When it’s such a tiny amount though, it just seems easier to me to do it this way. Anyway, once you have you’re chocolate and cream combined then stir in 10g of butter cut into chunks. And thats it, It takes less than 5 minutes and is seriously simple.
Right, two tips for assembling this. Firstly, i know it sounds pretty obvious, but wait until the meringue is fully cold or all the cream will melt and you’ll have a wet soggy mess on your hands. Secondly i wouldn’t assemble this in a pristine white dress, 5 mintues before you’re due to go out for dinner as i did, it’s pretty nerve racking when drizzling on the chocolate sauce! OK, before you start putting it together, put the meringue base onto whatever plate you’re serving it on as it’ll be so much harder to transfer when it’s all put together. Next, dollop on your cream and smoosh it all over until you only have a border of about 1 inch of meringue still showing (i only do this because i think it looks nicer so feel free to go all the way to the edge if you want). then evenly spoon over your strawberries, probably best to use a slotted spoon so it doesn’t all get too wet and then simply sppon or drizzle over the chocolate sauce and hey presto, pudding’s done.