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!

 

Advertisements

Nanaimo Bar Tart


Well, another original recipe. This recipe came about quite suddenly. Paul and I had been talking about tortes and tarts, and my mind just started wandering when Paul went to work.

I wondered if a Nanaimo Bar Tart could possibly work, and started thinking…. I took a shortbread recipe for the crust, and changed it up a bit, as well as using the custard powder and turning it into a thick custard, topping it off with a smooth chocolate topping.


I threw it all in the fridge to set up. That was the hard part – waiting for it to set to make sure that everything tasted good and worked together. However, the waiting and experimentation paid off, because WOW did taste good!

The tart turned out very good, but very rich, and already I’m cursing the slightly-bigger-than-normal piece that I cut for myself and finished with gusto because it was just THAT good. Either way, if you are a Nanaimo Bar fan, then this tart should be right up your alley!

Enjoy an original recipe! 🙂

Ingredients

Yield: 1 8-9 inch tart

For the tart shell:

1 c. butter
1¼ c. flour
¾c. coconut
½ c. sugar
¼ c. cocoa

For the custard layer:

¼ c. plus 1 tbsp. custard powder
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. sugar
2½ c. milk

For the chocolate layer:

½ c. butter
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium microwave safe mixing bowl, melt the butter. Add in the flour, coconut, sugar, and cocoa. Mix together until combined, and press into the tart pan and up the sides, trying to make as uniform and even as possible.

Bake the tart shell in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, and set aside to cool while making the filling.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the custard powder and sugar, then gradually pour in the vanilla and milk while whisking to create a cohesive sauce with no lumps. Whisk over a medium heat until a full boil and the custard thickens, whisking frequently. Once the custard thickens, pour into the cooled tart shell and let thicken and cool.

In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the butter and chocolate chips and melt on short bursts, combining until smooth.

Once the custard has thickened more, and formed a skin on top, pour the chocolate over top of the tart and even out, being careful not to mix the custard into the chocolate.

Let cool and set completely, in the fridge or on a wire rack, then slice and serve. Store in the refrigerator.

Vanilla Sables

image

Hello again, my dear readers! This week, I felt an irresistible pull to make cookies. I didn’t really care what kind of cookies, I just wanted to make cookies. I also wanted to make something I have never made before. It was a kind of feeling that I just wanted to make small, single portion baking, so I made these vanilla sables, and, for a more indulgent treat, I made Neapolitan Cupcakes. That recipe will be posted in a few days, but I wanted to start off with something relatively simple.

Of course, who do I turn to when I am looking for something I have never made before? Annie, of course! She had this recipe for vanilla sables, as well as a slightly more complex version of Chocolate Chai Sables. Well, let me tell you, I was tempted by both, and the vanilla sables won. For a recipe I had never tried before, I wanted to taste the original version.
image

These sables were a resounding success. I did have to make a few tweaks to the recipe, but that is because I don’t actually have any vanilla beans (gasp, I know!). It’s an investment I keep meaning to make, but I just keep forgetting to order a nice big bag off the internet. Either way, I substituted some extra vanilla extract for the absence of vanilla beans, and regular sugar for the vanilla sugar.

If, however, you have vanilla beans, and feel the urge to make some vanilla sugar, take some used vanilla bean pods, and stick them in a container of white sugar for a few days. That’s it! When I finally get around to getting some vanilla beans, I also have plans to make my own vanilla extract, so hopefully in the next year there will be a post on that.

These French sables, they remind me a little of shortbread. The cookie dough is all mixed together, then rolled into a log, and frozen for a few hours or overnight. After that, it is cut into slices, and baked. Quite simple, and not that time consuming. But, enough talk! To the cookies!

Ingredients

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies

1 c. butter, at room temperature
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise (or 2 tbsp. vanilla extract)
2/3 c. vanilla sugar (or regular sugar)
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2¼ c. flour
½ tsp. salt

For finishing:

Turbinado sugar (approx. ¾ c.)
1 egg white, lightly beaten with 1 tbsp. water

In a mixer bowl, combine the butter, vanilla bean seeds, and vanilla sugar. Beat on medium-high, about 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Blend in the egg yolks, one at a time, and add in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, add in the flour and salt until incorporated, and a thick dough forms.

Gather the dough together and transfer to a piece of parchment paper. With your hands, form the dough into a long log, about 12-14 inches long and 1¾ inches in diameter. Wrap the dough up in the parchment paper, twisting the ends to secure, and place the dough in the freezer for 2-3 hours, or until firm.

After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Unroll the dough from the parchment paper, and pour a line of turbinado sugar on one side of the parchment paper. Whisk the egg and water together, then brush over the dough log. Roll the dough log into the turbinado sugar. (If you can’t find any turbinado sugar, just use brown or white sugar. I used white sugar, and the cookies turned out fine. Paul looked for me, but could not find turbinado anywhere.)

Slice the sugared dough into ½ inch slices with a sharp knife, and transfer to the baking sheets.

Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, for 14-15 minutes total, until cookies are just set and light golden around the edges. Let cool briefly on pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Cannoli

Cannoli 7Cannoli is a dessert that originated in Italy. As a Canadian girl through and through, I actually hadn’t heard of cannoli except for in movies and TV. However, one of my best friends is Italian, and as such, her family has introduced me to a whole whack of Italian delicacies. Her sister is getting married at the end of the month, and her mother asked if I could make a bunch of cannoli for the dessert table.

Simply put, cannoli is a fried dough filled with a sweetened ricotta cream. Now, if that doesn’t sound appealing, please don’t just close the page! I, myself, am not a cheese fan. I like it on very few (and very specific) items, and I was hesitant about the filling being mostly ricotta cheese. However, even if you aren’t a fan of ricotta, I promise these will tickle your tastebuds.

Cannoli 10 The process is quite involved, and it did take me about 3 hours from start to finish to make these cannolis by myself. Still, do not let that deter you! I also had the help of pasta rollers to get the dough to that perfect thickness (which is almost paper thin!), and a countertop deep fryer, so I didn’t have to use a deep pan to fry.

Also, to help everyone out, I will be posting step-by-step pictures and instructions to help you out. The only thing I caution you is this – look around now for Marsala wine if you plan on making these anytime soon. It was extremely hard for me to find, and cannoli is very specific. Marsala wine is an Italian cooking wine, and it is what gives the dough its unique flavour. Totally worth it!

 

Ingredients

Yield: 3 dozen cannoli shells, approx. 1½ dozen worth cannoli filling

Shells:
3 c. flour
¼ c. sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. shortening
1 egg
1 egg yolk
½ c. sweet Marsala wine
1 tbsp. white vinegar
2 tbsp. water
1 egg white
1 quart oil for frying, or as needed

Filling:
1 32 oz. container ricotta cheese
½ c. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. orange extract
½ tsp. triple sec
Chocolate chips (mini or regular – optional)
Chopped pistachios (optional)

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Cut in the shortening until it is in pieces no larger than peas. Make a well in the center, and pour in the egg, egg yolk, Marsala wine, vinegar and water. Mix with a fork until the dough becomes stiff, then finish it by hand, kneading on a clean surface. Add a bit more water if needed to incorporate all of the dry ingredients. Knead for about 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. 

Cannoli 1

This is the dough after the refrigeration and before dividing and rolling. Divide the chilled dough into thirds, and flatten each one just enough to get through a pasta roller attachment. Roll the dough through the pasta rollers, progressively through each setting. I found my dough to be thin enough after going through setting 5.

Cannoli 2

 

Dust the dough lightly with flour to keep the dough from sticking together, and layer until all dough is rolled and thin enough.

Cannoli 3

Place the sheet of dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a form, large glass, or bowl, cut out circles 4-5 inches in diameter. Roll the dough around cannoli tubes, sealing the edges with a bit of egg white.

Cannoli 4

In a countertop deep fryer, or a deep heavy skillet, heat the oil to 375°F. Fry the shells on the tubes a few at a time for 1-2 minutes, until golden, using tongs to turn as needed. Carefully remove using the tongs, and place on a cooling rack set over paper towels.

Cannoli 5

 

Cool just long enough that you can handle the tubes, then carefully twist the tube to remove the shell. Wipe off the tubes, and use them for more shells. Cooled shells can be placed in an airtight container. Only fill them immediately or up to 1 hour before serving.

Cannoli 6

 

To make the filling, in the bowl of a stand mixer, blend the ricotta cheese, icing sugar, vanilla, orange extract, and triple sec. Whip until light and smooth. Use a pastry bag to pipe into the shells, filling from the centre to one end, then doing the same from the other side. Dust with icing sugar and place chocolate chips and pistachios on the ends for garnish when serving.

Cannoli 11