Posts Tagged With: gluten free

Pineapple & White Chocolate Pavlova

Following the success of my first ever homemade meringues back in October last year, I’ve been keen to have a go at a full-blown pavlova. A sweet, snowy mountain adorned with smooth white cream and colourful fresh fruit, I’ve always thought pavlovas make a spectacular dessert, as well as being a nice lighter alternative to cake.

I thought if my attempt turned out like the delicious marshmallowy-on-the-inside-crisp-on-the-outside individual little clouds I made previously I’d be happy, but I was worried that this monster version would be more temperamental, and cook unevenly or shatter into sad little bits of chalk dust when baked. Luckily, I needn’t have had such concerns as it came out beautifully.

Although the topping combination was my idea, I can’t take credit for the meringue base here. My kitchen-whizz mum suggested I use her failsafe pavlova recipe from her trusty old copy of The Love of Cooking by Sonia Allison (from 1972!), and it proves that the oldies are certainly goodies as it worked perfectly. It’s definitely going to be be my go-to recipe in future!

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Now here I must confess that I’m not a massive fan of berries, which are a staple of the quintessential pavlova. I love anything strawberry, raspberry or blueberry flavoured, but I just don’t enjoy the texture of the fruits themselves. However, I needed something that would cut through the sweetness of both the meringue and white chocolate, so I decided to use refreshingly sharp pineapple instead and I think it worked really well.

The finished article went down an absolute storm with my family, and I’ve definitely been bitten by the homemade meringue bug, so I’ll certainly be making more pavs in the future!

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INGREDIENTS – serves approx. 6 people

For the meringue base:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 225g/8 oz caster sugar
  • Quarter tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp vinegar (any kind will do)

For the topping:

  • 1 36g sachet Dream Topping + milk as needed by the packet instructions (or 250ml/0.5 pint double cream)
  • 1 432g can pineapple chunks or slices in juice, drained
  • 50g/1.5 oz white chocolate, chopped into chunks
  • A sprinkling of white and pink edible pearls (optional)

METHOD

For the meringue base:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 130 degrees C (or 110 fan) and line a large flat baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Place the egg whites in a very clean mixing bowl and whisk with the cream of tartar until white and frothy.
  3. Continue to whisk while adding the sugar a few tablespoons at a time until stiff, glossy peaks form – this will take a good few minutes (you should be able to hold the bowl of mixture over your head without it spilling out!)

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  4. Gently fold in the cornflour and vinegar with a spatula (and don’t panic at the odd acidic smell like I did – this will disappear once it’s cooked, I promise!)
  5. Dollop the mixture in a rough circle on the baking parchment, ensuring it’s in a thick layer so you can’t see the paper through it at any point.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for around 1-1.5 hours, until a crisp shell has formed and the meringue is very slightly golden on the top but mostly white.
  7. When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool.

For the topping:

  1. Prepare the Dream Topping (or cream) according to the packet’s instructions – it should be quite thick and not runny – and then pile it on top of the meringue base.
  2. If using pineapple slices, cut them into small chunks and scatter on top of the Dream Topping, followed by the white chocolate chunks.
  3. Finish with a sprinkling of a few pretty pink and white pearls if you fancy, and serve immediately.
Categories: Other Treats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Healthy No-Bake Choco-Date Bars

I went to the Foodies Festival at Alexandra Palace the other week with my other half as an early birthday present for him and we had a wonderful day, despite the blazing heat (made even better by the fact that we got the tickets half price through Groupon!) We saw some fantastic cooking demonstrations, ate lots of free samples and bought lots of goodies! A definite highlight for me was the ‘Embrace the Cake’ stall where I had the most incredible raw, vegan, no-bake pecan pie. It was so delicious that I couldn’t believe it was free from refined sugar and made from only healthy, natural ingredients – mostly ground nuts, dates and coconut oil if I remember correctly. The other sin-free treats on offer looked similarly mouth-watering, including apricot crumble, coconut balls, lemon slices, ‘rawreos’ (raw Oreo cookies) and gingerbread balls.

I’m also a huge fan of Nakd bars, which are similarly raw and vegan friendly with no refined sugar (unlike most cereal bars which claim to be healthy but are in fact teeth-rottingly sweet!), and I have been eating an obscene amount of them recently, especially the cocoa ones. Feeling inspired, I decided to have a go at making some healthy no-bake treats myself and the results are these absolutely scrumptious, gooey and chocolatey-tasting date bars 🙂 This recipe was also the perfect excuse to try out the Beloved date nectar that I bought from the festival, which is a gorgeously sweet alternative to sugar, made from nothing but smooshed dates. If you don’t have this, simply replace it with a second tablespoon of honey, or use maple or agave syrup instead.

I used honey and milk in my recipe here but I realise these aren’t vegan ingredients, so I’ve given suggestions for replacements below if you want to make the bars completely free from animal products.

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INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 16 bars

  • 250g unsalted cashew nuts
  • 220g dried dates
  • 1 tbsp date nectar
  • 1 tbsp honey (or maple/agave syrup to make it vegan)
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 150g oats
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tbsp skimmed milk (or almond/soya milk to make it vegan/dairy free)
  • Handful of flaked almonds, to decorate
  • Handful of raisins, to decorate

METHOD

  1. Line a rectangular baking tin with baking parchment.
  2. Finely chop the cashew nuts or blitz them with a food processor depending on how fine you want them and place in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Roughly chop the dates then add them to the bowl along with the date nectar, honey, cocoa powder, oats, vanilla extract and milk.
  4. Blend the mixture together using a stick blender or food processor until it has a smooth, mushy consistency.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin and press down with your fingers or a rubber spatula, then top with the flaked almonds and raisins.
  6. Leave to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours then cut into bars with a sharp knife.
Categories: Healthier, No-Bake, Raw/Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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