Pavlova with Lemon Curd

When I think of pavlova, I think of my dear friend Rita. She was the first person who introduced me to the deliciousness of pavlova, and did so in such a beautiful way that it will always be cemented in my memory. A strawberry-kiwi pavlova with whipped cream. Amazing.

With the end of the school year comes goodbyes. These goodbyes are always hard, and one of these hard goodbyes was to my fellow staff at my school. Teaching contracts can be finicky things if you don’t have a permanent or continuing contract, which I didn’t this year. Hence, we had to say goodbye.

For our year-end staff get-together, we decided to have a potluck. Considering my luck with cheesecake (you might remember my Salted Caramel Pecan Cheesecake), both myself and my fellow staff members were all for me making dessert, and I wanted it to be something special. Paul was the genius that suggested pavlova, and I had everything in the fridge to make it, including cream to make whipped cream to top it. The only thing I didn’t have was the fruit.

I bought strawberries and peaches, and made simple fruit toppings to go with the pavlova, the lemon curd, and the whipped cream. The original recipe I found here. I have found that pavlova is not particularly difficult to make, but is time-consuming. Still, the results were worth it. I will let you know, pavlovas are traditionally Australian, and are meant to be crisp on the outside, and slightly gooey and marshmallow-esque on the inside. These ended up practically perfect.

I made a few changes to the recipe, none very special or important. Instead of making one large pavlova, I made a dozen small, individual-sized servings. This made it much easier to serve. Either way, I was very pleased with the results, so were my staff members, and so was Paul. It was a win-win-win situation. This is the perfect summer dessert; light, airy, fruity, sweet, tart. It’s got a bit of everything you need.

Ingredients

Yield: 1 large pavlova, or 12 small servings

For the pavlova:

6 egg whites
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. white vinegar

For the lemon curd:

Zest of one lemon
1 ¼ c. sugar
½ c. butter, softened and at room temperature
4 eggs
½ c. lemon juice
Pinch of salt

For the fruit topping:

¼ c. sugar
1/8 c. water
2-3 c. frozen fruit (I used strawberries and peaches)
2 tsp. cornstarch, mixed with 2 tsp. cold water

For the whipped cream:

1 c. heavy cream
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

To make the pavlova, preheat the oven to 395°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. If making one pavlova, trace a cheesecake ring on the parchment paper and flip so the traced circle is next to the baking tray. If making 12 portions, line two trays with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high until soft peaks form. Add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, not stopping the mixer until mixture is thick and glossy, and the sugar is completely incorporated. Add the cornstarch with the last tablespoon of sugar. Whip until sugar is completely dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, use a spatula to fold in the vanilla and vinegar.

Spoon the meringue into the ring on the prepared pan, or the twelve portions on the two pans. Make the centers slightly depressed and the edges slightly higher, so the meringue forms a shallow bowl shape.

Place the meringue into the oven, and IMMEDIATELY lower the oven to 210°F. Bake for 1½ – 2 hours, until the outside of the meringue feels dry and crisp. Turn off the oven, and leave the pavlova in the oven to cool completely.

For the lemon curd, in a large bowl over a pot of simmering water (or a double boiler), combine all curd ingredients, and whisk until combined. Whisking constantly, the mixture will thicken over the course of 15-20 minutes. When the mixture coats the back of a spoon, and does not run easily off, it is done.

Transfer to a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap until cool.

To make the fruit topping, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan until thickened and smooth. Fruit will cook down until tender and soft. Transfer to a bowl and cool.

To make the whipped cream, combine all ingredients in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and whip until thick and smooth.

To assemble, slice pavlova, or take a pavlova round and place on the serving dish. Top with lemon curd, the fruit topping, and whipped cream, and enjoy!

 

Root Beer Marshmallows

Who doesn’t love marshmallows?! And with Root Beer? Either I’m crazy, or a genius, or both.

Any time I eat a marshmallow nowadays, I think about all kinds of new flavours to try. Homemade marshmallows are just so much BETTER than store bought. They really are. And you can incorporate so many flavours – if it comes in an extract bottle, chances are you can make a marshmallow with it. I have a bottle of Root Beer Concentrate from Watkins and courtesy of my mom, and Paul loves it. We’ve put it in magic shell, cupcakes, and now I got the crazy idea to try it in marshmallows!

The best thing about homemade marshmallows is that they are so EASY. It never takes me longer than half an hour to make, and it takes more time for marshmallows to set up than it does to make them! Sure, you do need a candy thermometer, and a mixer is helpful here, but they are so worth the extra effort of making homemade marshmallows.

These homemade marshmallows will up your s’more game – guaranteed!

Ingredients:

Yield: About 2 dozen marshmallows

1 c. cold water, divided
2½ tbsp. unflavoured gelatin
1½ c. sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
¼ tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. Root Beer Concentrate
¼ c. icing sugar
¼ c. corn starch

Line an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 inch square pan with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix the icing sugar and corn starch. Sprinkle some of the icing sugar mixture into the pan, trying to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment, place ½ c. of the cold water, and sprinkle the gelatin over to soften.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the rest of the water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Place a candy thermometer in/on the pan, and heat. Cook until mixture reaches 240°F. When it does, immediately remove it from the heat, turn on the mixture to it’s lowest setting, and drizzle the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl.

Once all of the sugar syrup is incorporated, turn the mixer to high and whip until mixture becomes thick and lukewarm. The colour should also change from transparent to white. Once the mixture is thick and has almost the consistency of melted marshmallow, add in the Root Beer Concentrate. Mix the extract in well, then pour the marshmallow mixture into the lined pan.

Sprinkle more of the icing sugar mixture over the marshmallows, then leave to set 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to cut, lift the set marshmallows out of the pan onto a cutting board. Use a pizza roller dipped in the icing sugar mixture, tossing the cut marshmallows in more of the icing sugar mixture so they don’t stick together. Store in an airtight container or plastic bag.

Blood Orange Marshmallows

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I love marshmallows! I have been tossing around a bunch of new recipes to make, and finally, Paul and I went to the grocery store on Friday. There were a bunch of fresh blood oranges there, and I got extremely excited, because I had always heard about blood oranges, but I had never eaten/seen one/baked with one before.

This has all changed now!
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These marshmallows turned out so well. I found some great big blood oranges, and I was so excited when I cut them open. Some of them were a bit lighter, and some of them were so dark they looked a blackish-purple when I cut them open.
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They turned out a beautiful light purple colour when I finally got to cut the marshmallows. Try these beauties! Blood orange marshmallows… Genius!
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Ingredients:

Yield: 24-30 marshmallows, depending on cut size

1 c. blood orange juice, from about 4 whole oranges, separated
2½ tbsp. gelatin
1½ c. sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. vanilla
¼ c. cornstarch, to finish
¼ c. icing sugar, to finish

Combine icing sugar and cornstarch, and set aside.

Line a square pan with parchment paper, and cover with the icing sugar and cornstarch mixture. Set aside. Zest one of the oranges, and set aside. Juice the oranges, and strain out any pulp.

Place ½ c. of the orange juice into the bowl of a mixer with the gelatin. Leave gelatin to soften while making the sugar syrup.

In a deep saucepan with a candy thermometer attached, combine the rest of the orange juice, sugar, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla. Heat over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches 240ºF. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, turn on the mixer to low, and drizzle the sugar syrup down the side of the mixer. Whip on high for 5-10 minutes, until mixture cools and looks milky in colour (like melted marshmallows).

Pour marshmallow mixture into the lined pan. Top with a thin layer of the icing sugar/cornstarch mix, and let set at least 8 hours or overnight.

Once set, turn out onto a cutting board, and cut into squares. Cover all the cut edges with the icing sugar/cornstarch mixture, and store in an airtight container.

Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows

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Sorry for the silence around the blog for the past few weeks. It’s been a madhouse! Shortly after my last post about those Chai Chocolate Sables, it was my birthday. I was going to actually make my own birthday cake, a Chocolate Raspberry Truffle concoction of Annie’s creation. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten that cake. It is sitting in the back of my mind, just waiting for me to crave a cake.

The weekend after my birthday, we were whisked away to a friend’s beautiful wedding, and I didn’t want to bake anything when we were going to be out of the house for three days. Finally, after all the travelling and revelry was done, I wanted to settle down and do some baking.
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Now, these marshmallows are not strictly baking. But, they are candy and dessert-like, so I decided to post them. At my beautiful friend’s wedding, she had a S’more bar (so clever!) and this gave me the initial idea of making homemade marshmallows. I have been tossing around the idea for a long, long time, but going to the wedding gave me the jump I needed.  I also made myself a sourdough starter, so in the next few weeks, there will be a post about homemade sourdough bread. As of right now, though, I made homemade marshmallows!

Thank goodness for Annie and her recipes.The only tool that you need for this recipe that may not be in your kitchen is a candy thermometer. Other than that, enjoy these babies. I’m going to try them next time with a flavouring other than vanilla.

One side note at well. The recipe calls for light corn syrup, which means clear corn syrup. I have almost two full bottles of corn syrup, the Golden kind, in my kitchen, and wasn’t about to go buy a third bottle, so I just used the Golden corn syrup. It turned out perfectly fine, but that was why I added a bit of food colouring so that these marshmallows weren’t a brownish gold colour.

Next time I want to make vanilla marshmallows though, I will buy the clear syrup, because the white colour of pure vanilla marshmallows is gorgeous. However, with a little bit of colour, and double the vanilla because I still don’t have vanilla beans, homemade vanilla marshmallows are within reach. Nor going to lie, I also made a quick little S’more to try, and wow. Amazing.

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Ingredients

Yield: 8-9 dozen marshmallows

1 c. cold water, divided
2½ tbsp. (3 packets) unflavoured gelatin
1½ c. sugar
1 c. light corn syrup (golden works as well)
¼ tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. vanilla (double this if using golden corn syrup)
¼ c. icing sugar
¼ c. cornstarch

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add ½ c. of cold water and sprinkle the gelatin over the water to soften it. In a medium saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, mix the other ½ c. of cold water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean and add to the mixture. If using golden corn syrup, add 2 tsp. vanilla.

Heat the mixture in the saucepan over medium heat, until mixture reaches 240°F. Immediately take off the heat. Turn mixer to low, and slowly drizzle the sugar syrup into the mixer bowl. When all of the sugar syrup has been added, turn mixer to high, and mix for 12-15 minutes, or until the mixture becomes thick and the bowl is lukewarm.

While the marshmallows are mixing, in a small bowl whisk together the icing sugar and cornstarch. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan, and sprinkle some of the icing sugar mixture into the pan, coating the bottom and sides. Once the marshmallow mixture is ready, spread into the greased and sugared pan with a lightly greased spatula. Sprinkle some (but not all) of the sugar mixture over the top of the marshmallows. Leave at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Once ready to cut, tip out the marshmallow slab onto a cutting board. Using a knife or pizza cutter, rub blade in the icing sugar mixture and slice marshmallows into squares. If desired, use cookie cutters for fun shapes. Place marshmallows and the rest of the icing sugar mixture into an airtight plastic container. Shake to cover marshmallows and prevent them from sticking together. Store in the airtight container.

S’mores Truffles

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My dear readers! It has been almost a month since my last post! I am terribly sorry! After Paul’s birthday, I kept meaning to bake something, and write a blog post, but life kept getting in the way. Paul and I celebrated our anniversary, it was Mother’s Day, and we have been working like crazy. All things considered, I am here now, and blogging, and that’s what matters, right?
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For this baking idea, it came about in a different way than normal. This is an original recipe created entirely by me, so I can attest to its successes and failures. There are other recipes for S’mores Truffles out there, but I wanted to do something different.
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A friend of ours recently gave me a bag of Marshmallow candy melts. These melts are excellent for coating candies and truffles, and I decided to put a Sugar and Spice spin on the classic S’more combination. The truffles are actually three different layers. The center is marshmallow and graham cracker pieces melted together rice krispie style, and formed into balls. The middle layer is a decadent chocolate ganache. The outer layer is a mixture of marshmallow candy melts and white chocolate to form a nice smooth shell. I sprinkled graham cracker crumbs on the tops of the truffles to finish them.
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I didn’t know how many the recipe made, so I ended up making a ton. I mean, a TON. Almost 10 dozen truffles. Yeah. I maybe overdid it a bit. Oh well. Truffles for all! Please, feel free to halve the recipe, because I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to be gifted S’mores truffles in the next little bit.

Ingredients

Yield: Approx. 90 pieces

For the center:

3 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
1 10 oz. bag marshmallows (I just used one whole bag of the regular sized marshmallows)
18 graham crackers, coarsely crushed

For the ganache:

2½ c heavy cream
22 oz. semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate, chips or chopped (I used a mixture of both)

For the candy shell:

1 10 oz. bag marshmallow flavour candy melts
6 oz. white chocolate, chopped
1 graham cracker, crushed for garnish

In a large, microwave safe bowl, place chocolate for ganache. Heat cream in a saucepan or in a microwave safe liquid measuring cup, until almost boiling. Pour cream over chocolate, let sit for 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth. If chocolate is still lumpy, heat in the microwave for 10-15 second intervals, whisking after each heating, until ganache is smooth. Place in fridge or freezer to solidify and cool completely before using. Line 2-3 pans with parchment paper (depending on if you halved the recipe) and set aside.

For the graham marshmallow center, melt butter and vanilla together in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add marshmallows, stirring constantly until melted, then take off heat immediately. Add the coarse graham crumbs, and stir until evenly mixed.

Butter your hands (or spray with non-stick cooking spray), then form the marshmallow mixture into small balls. Let cool on the pans lined with parchment.

When ganache is cool and almost solid, use an ice cream scoop, a teaspoon, or your hands to wrap ganache around the marshmallow graham balls. Place back on parchment, and repeat until all ganache is used and all graham balls are covered. If ganache becomes too unworkable, place back in the fridge or freezer to solidify again. Refrigerate truffles if ganache needs to be cooled again. (I had to do this about 3 or 4 times. Again, I made 90 truffles, so it took me a while.) After all truffles are coated in ganache, refrigerate until firm.

Crush 1 graham cracker in a mortar and pestle, or with fingers, into crumbs. When truffles are coated and firm, melt candy melts and white chocolate together in a microwave safe bowl until smooth. Let sit for 2 minutes to cool. Dip truffles in the candy shell mixture one at a time, then sprinkle with the crushed graham crumbs.

**Because of the amount of truffles I made, I only had enough candy shell to dip 1/3 of the truffles completely. I drizzled the candy melt mixture over the rest of the truffle mixture. Depending on how you want your truffles, you can multiply the candy shell, or just leave it as a drizzle for all truffles.**

Refrigerate until candy shell is solid, then serve.