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!

 

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Gingerbread Cream Pie with Cinnamon Meringue


I told you this was coming! I’m a crazy woman. I came up with the idea of a gingerbread cream pie a few weeks back. I searched high and low on Pinterest, to no avail. See, I’m picky when it comes to recipes. There were recipes for Gingerbread Cream Pie, but they all started with pre-made pie crusts and whipped topping. (I’m weird, but I can taste the fake of pre-made oil based whipped topping. Phhhhfffffflllllcckkk. It’s gross.)

Also, these pictures are terrible. I apologize, but there was no way to get a clean slice. I did the best I could. As is life. Oh well.

Anyways, because I didn’t love the recipes I found, I decided to make one myself!! How exciting. Paul was over the moon when I told him what I was going to make. Excited might be an understatement.

I didn’t want to start from scratch, so I actually took some inspiration from this recipe, of Kitchen Magpie fame. I pretty much used her recipe and made my own changes to make it Gingerbread pie.

Cream pies are usually custard based, so flapper pie was the perfect base for this Gingerbread Cream Pie. I just changed a few things. First, I asked Paul’s opinion for a crumb crust or pastry crust. He voted hands down for crumb crust, so I made a decision – gingersnaps, or something else? I ended up going with the something else – speculaas, a Dutch spice cookie. (If you’ve ever had Cookie Butter from anywhere, that’s what speculaas is but in actual cookie form.)

I crushed up the speculaas and mixed it with butter to form a crumb crust. I baked the crust, then added my Gingerbread inspiration to the rest of the pie, and BAM. Gingerbread Cream Pie with Cinnamon Meringue. You. Are. Welcome. 🙂 (But seriously, go try this pie!)

Ingredients:

Yield: 1 9-inch pie

For the crust:

1¼ c. speculaas cookies, crushed (you can use gingersnaps)
¼ c. butter, melted

For the filling:

2½ c. milk
½ c. sugar
¼ c. cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
3 tbsp. Fancy molasses
½ tsp. ginger
½ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. cardamom

For the meringue:

3 egg whites
¼ c. sugar
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
1/8 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the melted butter and crushed cookies. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a pie plate. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a medium saucepan, combine all of the filling ingredients. Whisk together until cohesive. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Mixture should become thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and when a finger is run down the spoon, the mixture does not fill in the gap.

Set aside to cool while making the meringue. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Add in the cinnamon, and beat again to evenly distribute the cinnamon.

Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie crust. Top with dollops of meringue, using a knife to gently push the meringue in an even layer across the pie. Swipe up through the meringue with small strokes to make small peaks across the top of the pie.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until meringue peaks are turning golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack until room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator.

Flapper Pie

Before you ask, yes, this is a real pie.

I had never heard of it before meeting my fiance Paul, and for the past year or so he has occasionally requested me to make it. Because I didn’t know what it was, and he didn’t explain it properly, I kept pushing it to the side in favour of some other, more… accessible (a.k.a more popular) desserts. However, after finding a recipe on The Kitchen Magpie (http://www.thekitchenmagpie.com/), I decided to give it a whirl.

For those of you who are uneducated in the world of flapper pie (which I was until late last week), it is a simple pie with three components. First, a graham cracker crust, much like the crusts used in cheesecakes. Next, a layer of thick and creamy custard is layered over the crust. Finally, mounds of meringue are piled on to the custard, and the whole thing is baked.

At first, I wasn’t sold. But, because a promise is a promise (and because Paul won’t let me forget it!) I decided to tackle this prairie classic.

The graham cracker crumb crust came together well. The custard I was unsure about. I have never made custard before in my life. After trying the custard in the recipe, I don’t know why I haven’t made it before! It was extremely simple, and extremely tasty. Meringue has never really given me any troubles, considering I just put all the ingredients into my mixer and go. As it stands, the pie came out of the oven looking like this:

Just out of the oven.
Just out of the oven.

Despite never having eaten or made flapper pie before, I wanted a slice of that pie right out of the oven. However, because the pie was technically not for me, I held back. Let me say – oh, it smelled heavenly. Still, I cooled the pie on a cooling rack for about an hour, then moved it to the fridge to finish cooling and setting.

When we cut into the pie (finally!), I was pleasantly surprised, and slightly let down. I am a bit of a perfectionist, and to say that a flapper pie cuts nicely is a huge exaggeration. Some of the crust stuck to the pie plate, and there was custard leaking, despite how solid it got. However, the flavour! Oh my! The first taste that stuck out was the creaminess of the custard mixing with the cinnamon in the crust. The meringue was a wonderful light addition to the bite, and I instantly understood the draw of this illustrious, and almost forgotten, pie.

The cleanest slice I could manage!
The cleanest slice I could manage!

This pie, I can say, is definitely a new favourite, and will definitely be put into my baking rotation. Go. Make it now. It is simple, and is made with ingredients that you should have around the kitchen. You will not be disappointed!

Happy baking!

Flapper Pie

Yields: 1 8 inch pie (can be made in a 9 or 10 inch pie dish)

Crust:
1 ¼c. graham cracker crumbs
¼c. melted butter
½c. sugar
Dash of cinnamon

Custard:
2 ½c. milk
½c. white sugar
¼c. cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt

Meringue:
3 egg whites
¼c. white sugar
¼tsp. cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, mix together all crust ingredients. Toss with a fork until incorporated. Put aside approximately 2 tbsp. of the crust mixture, and press the remaining crust mix into an 8, 9, or 10 inch  pie dish, pressing the crust mixture up the sides. Bake for 5 minutes to set crust. Remove from oven and let cool while making custard and meringue.

To make the custard, combine all custard ingredients in a medium saucepan and set over medium high heat. Whisk and stir constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Set custard aside to cool while you make the meringue.

Beat all meringue ingredients together until stiff peaks form.

Pour the custard filling into the crust, and top with the meringue. If you want to make it look nicer, use a knife or flat head spatula to create little spikes all over the top the of meringue. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture over the meringue, and bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the meringue starts to turn a beautiful golden brown colour. Make sure you watch the pie carefully! All ovens distribute heat differently, so be sure to keep an eye on the meringue so that it doesn’t burn.

Cool on a baking rack for 45 minutes to an hour, and transfer to the fridge and let cool completely before serving.