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!
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!
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 x 36g sachet Dream Topping + milk as needed by the packet instructions (or 250ml/0.5 pint double cream)
- 1 x 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)
For the meringue base:
- Pre-heat the oven to 130 degrees C (or 110 fan) and line a large flat baking tray with parchment paper.
- Place the egg whites in a very clean mixing bowl and whisk with the cream of tartar until white and frothy.
- 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!)
- 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!)
- 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.
- 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.
- When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool.
For the topping:
- 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.
- If using pineapple slices, cut them into small chunks and scatter on top of the Dream Topping, followed by the white chocolate chunks.
- Finish with a sprinkling of a few pretty pink and white pearls if you fancy, and serve immediately.
Categories: Other Treats
Tags: 2017, baking, cooking, cream, dessert, dream topping, egg whites, gluten free, homemade, meringue, pavlova, pineapple, recipe, sugar, summer, tropical, uk, white chocolate
Originally posted 19/12/2014
I’ve not been great at keeping my blog updated over the last few months due to being busy with uni but now we’re officially into the festive season it’d be wrong not to post some recipes! Being a loan-less student in London means money is pretty tight so I’ve been doing Christmas on a budget this year by creating as many homemade edible/crafty gifts as time and ability allows. This snowy white rocky road is a twist on the traditional kind and so ridiculously easy and cheap to make. The ruby red glace cherries look beautifully festive and the spicy ginger of the biscuits contrasts wonderfully with the creamy white chocolate.
You could also add nuts (e.g. pistachios or walnuts) or experiment with other goodies like dried cranberries for an equally authentic yuletide taste.
INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 15-18 squares
- 500g/1 lb 1oz white chocolate
- 150g/5.5 oz ginger nut biscuits
- 200g/7 oz glace cherry halves (1 standard tub)
- 2 handfuls mini white marshmallows
- Line a standard rectangular cake tin with baking parchment.
- Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl in blasts of 30 seconds in the microwave (no longer or it’ll seize!) or over a pan of hot water.
- Roughly break the ginger nuts up by hand into pieces no bigger than a 50p piece and add to the chocolate then stir in the glace cherries and marshmallows until thoroughly coated.
- Pour the mixture into the cake tin then allow to set in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours before cutting into squares with a sharp knife.
Categories: Chocolate, Festive, No-Bake
Tags: 2014, cherries, christmas, festive, gift, ginger biscuits, homemade, marshmallows, no bake, rocky road, white chocolate
Originally posted 14/10/2014
I’m back! After a bit of an absence from my wee blog due to moving and dieting, I’m now settling into life in London as a postgraduate English Linguistics student, and I’ve joined my university’s Baking Society which has made the cake making urges return tenfold! I attended their welcome meeting last week and had a jolly old time meeting fellow baking enthusiasts and sampling some scrumptious homemade goodies. The theme for the night was ‘try something new’ so I thought this’d be the perfect excuse to try out the matcha green tea powder my other half very kindly brought me back from California after I said I’d like to use some in my cooking.
Fortunately the oven in my new flat is wonderful and these cakes turned out beautifully – despite turning the sponge a lurid swampy colour, the green tea powder gives them a lovely subtly fragrant twang which works well with white or milk chocolate icing. I’m proud to say they were the first tin of cakes to disappear!
I’ve since found out that matcha green tea powder is extremely expensive to buy here in the UK (I’ve seen prices from £20 to £50!!) so they may not be the most practical cupcakes to try. However, you could add the contents of regular green tea bags instead and still get the flavour, just without the distinctive eye-catching green sponge.
Like a moron I forgot to photograph the insides of the cakes but the sponge came out very green! I ran out of white chocolate icing for the last two cakes and was in a hurry so I slathered them in Nutella – they were also delicious!
INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 12-14
For the cakes:
- 115g/6 oz self-raising flour
- 115g/6 oz caster/granulated sugar
- 115g/6 oz butter/margarine
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp matcha green tea powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the icing (measurements very approximate, sorry!):
- 140g/5 oz white chocolate
- 3 tbsp butter (unsalted if preferred)
- 3 tbsp icing sugar
- Splash of milk
- A few pinches of matcha green tea powder
- 12 wafer daisies (optional)
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a baking tray with 12 paper cases.
- Whisk the butter/margarine and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until pale then whisk in the eggs.
- Fold in the flour, green tea powder and vanilla extract until a batter of a soft dropping consistency has formed.
- Drop the mixture into the cake cases using a teaspoon until they’re each about three quarters full.
- Pop in the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponge comes out clean.
- When baked, place on a wire rack and leave to cool. At this stage the cakes can be frozen for decorating at a later date if you wish.
- Chop the chocolate into small pieces and melt in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of hot water or place in the microwave and heat in blasts of about 30-40 seconds (or 1 minute if using cooking chocolate – this tends to be more forgiving) until smooth.
- Add the butter, icing sugar and milk and beat until the mixture is a spreadable consistency. If it’s too runny add more icing sugar and if it’s too stiff add more milk.
- Spread onto the cakes using a palette knife – make sure you work quickly as this icing tends to stiffen rapidly!
- Sprinkle a little matcha green tea powder onto the top of each cake and add a wafer daisy as a pretty finishing touch if you wish. Voila!
Edit: You can see the sponge’s vivid green colour a bit better in this photo of another batch I made for Halloween (along with some chocolate bat ear cupcakes!), with red ‘blood’ icing and sweetie fangs:
Categories: Chocolate, cupcakes
Tags: 2014, baking, cake, cupcakes, daisies, flowers, frosting, green tea, homemade, icing, matcha, recipe, sponge, white chocolate