Showing posts with label Christmas desserts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas desserts. Show all posts

Friday, 18 December 2015

Pavlova with Poached Apples and Caramelised Verjuice Syrup

Apples and almonds have a great affinity with Verjuice. Although apples are not a traditional topping for a Pavlova, they work beautifully in this recipe, with its extravagant, brittle nest of almond-scented meringue, its clouds of whipped cream, and a reduced Verjuice syrup that’s just on the point of turning to caramel. The Pavlova should be made 8-12 hours ahead of time, and you can also prepare the apple filling well in advance.

Pavlova with Poached Apples and Caramelised Verjuice Syrup

This is another in a series of new recipes I've developed using Verjuice (available at Woolies), and I hope you'll give this recipe a bash, even if you're mortally afraid of making anything involving temperamental meringue.

My attempts at making billowing pavlovas and snowy, crisp meringues were spectacularly flat, sticky failures for many years, but eventually I nailed them, and I haven't had a flop since.  I hope my method works for you - and it it doesn't, please drop me a line on Facebook so I can assist you.

Pavlova with Poached Apples and Caramelised Verjuice Syrup

For the Pavlova:

5 extra-large free-range eggs
a pinch of Cream of Tartar
250 g caster sugar
2-3 drops of good almond extract

For the filling:

5 large crisp apples, peeled, cored and quartered (I've used both Granny Smith and Golden Delicious, with good results)
1½ cups (375 ml) Verjuice
½ cup (125 ml) caster sugar
1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream
¼ cup (60 ml) flaked almonds, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan

First make the Pavlova. Heat the oven to 160 ºC, fan off. Separate the eggs and place the whites in a spotlessly clean bowl together with a pinch of Cream of Tartar (you'll find this in the baking aisle of supermarkets). Keep the yolks for making mayonnaise.

Using an electric beater or a food processor fitted with a balloon whisk, beat the egg whites for 2-3 minutes, or until they are standing up in firm - but not dry - peaks.

Add a third of the caster sugar at a time to the whites, whisking well for a few minutes between each addition. When you've added all the sugar, drop in the almond extract, to taste, and continue beating for another 3-4 minutes, or until the meringue is very thick, firm and shiny (with no sign of grittiness when you rub a blob between your fingers).

Your mixture should hold its firm billowing shape without drooping. If the meringue seems thin or floppy, your Pavlova will collapse in the oven, and you'll need to chuck out the mixture and start all over again.

Line a baking sheet with lightly oiled baking/greaseproof paper (put little blobs of meringue on four points under the paper to stick it down). Draw a plate-sized circle on the paper, spread a third of the meringue mixture over it to form the base of the Pavlova, then place big, generous dollops of the remaining meringue around the edges to form a basket. A huge metal spoon is the right utensil for this.

Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of your preheated oven, and immediately turn the heat down to 110 ºC (oven fan off). Bake for an hour and a quarter, then switch off the oven (don't open the door!) and let the meringue case dehydrate, undisturbed, for at least 8 hours, or until it is crisp and dry.  If you'd like a Pavlova with a slightly squidgy centre, let the case dry out for 6 hours.

To prepare the apple filling, put one cup of Verjuice and the caster sugar into a pan.  Bring to a gentle bubble, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.  Add the apple quarters and poach, covered, for 9-11 minutes, or until they are just soft.  Set aside to cool completely.

To assemble the dessert, remove the apples from their syrup with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add the remaining ½ cup of Verjuice to the syrup, turn up the heat and boil over a medium-high heat for 10 minutes, or until the syrup has reduced by about two thirds, is turning to an amber colour, and is thick, glossy, and producing plenty of big lazy bubbles. Watch the mixture like a hawk – you want it to be just on the point of caramelising.

Whip the cream until it's thick and billowy, pile it into the Pavlova and arrange the apple pieces on top.  Drizzle the hot syrup over the top, scatter with toasted almonds and serve immediately.

Serves 6. 

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Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Vanilla Panna Cotta with a Verjuice-Gooseberry Compote

A delicate, barely set vanilla cream topped with a glorious sunset-orange compote of Verjuice and Cape gooseberries. Verjuice enhances the tartness of gooseberries, and the contrast of cool and creamy with sharp and sweet is sublime. You can prepare this dessert well in advance and merrily assemble it at the last minute.

Vanilla Panna Cotta with a Verjuice-Gooseberry Compote

This is another in a series of new recipes I've developed using Verjuice (available at Woolies). If you don't have Verjuice, poach your gooseberries in a light sugar syrup (see Cook's Notes at the end of this page).

Like this recipe? Try my Fresh Plum Jelly with a Lemon Panna Cotta Topping.




Wine recommendation by Michael Olivier. He says: "Asara Vine Dried Sauvignon Blanc 2014 - a stunner of a natural sweet wine."

It looks like: Packed in a 375 ml Alsatian Flute.  In the glass a golden straw - and please serve it in a decent sized glass..

It smells like: Soft dried apricots and sliced lime poached in fynbos honey. 

It tastes like: Rich and unctuous: desiccated pineapple rehydrated in fynbos honey. Guava, yellow Canary melon.



Vanilla Panna Cotta with a Verjuice-Gooseberry Compote

For the panna cotta:

300 ml cream
300 ml full-cream milk
5 Tbsp (75 ml) caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, or a few drops of good vanilla extract
4 tsp (20 ml) tepid water
2 tsp (10 ml) gelatine powder

For the compote:

200 g Cape gooseberries
½ cup (125 ml) Verjuice
2 Tbsp (30 ml) caster sugar (or more, to taste: see recipe)

Put the cream, milk and caster sugar into a saucepan.  Split the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape out the seeds and add them to the pan (or add the vanilla extract, if you’re using that).  Bring gradually to just below the boil, over a low heat, stirring now and then.

When the sugar has dissolved, take the pan off the heat and gently press a sheet of clingfilm directly onto the surface of the mixture (this will prevent a ‘skin’ forming).  Set the cream aside to infuse for 45 minutes, or until it has cooled to blood temperature.

Put the water into a small teacup or ramekin, sprinkle over the gelatine and set aside to ‘sponge’ for 3 minutes.  Now place the cup in a pan of simmering water (the water should come halfway up its sides) and leave it there for a 3 minutes, or until the gelatine has melted and the liquid is clear.  Whisk this into the cream mixture, then strain the cream through a fine sieve into four wine glasses.  Chill for at least 5 hours, or until the panna cotta has set, but is still very wobbly.

To make the compote, put the gooseberries, Verjuice and caster sugar into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, skimming off any white foam as it rises.  If the gooseberries are very tart, you may need to add a little more sugar.   Simmer for about 7 minutes, or until the fruit is just beginning to collapse.  Remove from the heat, tip into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until very cold.

When you’re ready to serve, remove half the whole gooseberries from the bowl using a slotted spoon and set aside.  Use a potato masher or fork lightly to crush the remaining berries.  Spoon a layer of the crushed fruit over the top of the panna cottas, and top with the whole berries you put aside

Serves 4.

Cook's Notes: 

If you don't have Verjuice, poach your gooseberries in a light sugar syrup.  Here's how: put ½ cup (125 ml) water into a saucepan and add 4 Tbsp (60 ml) caster sugar - or more, to taste, depending on how sour the fruit is.  Bring gently to the boil, stirring occasionally. When the sugar has dissolved, add the gooseberries and continue with the recipe (paragraph 4, above).


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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Easy Rum and Raisin Popsicles

I have a particular fondness for rum-and-raisin-flavoured ice cream because it reminds me of my childhood. These fruity, boozy ice creams are so easy to make and make a great finish to a Southern Hemisphere festive meal.  They contain that most unfashionable ingredient, condensed milk, and are whipped together ready for freezing in under ten minutes (although you will need to soak the raisins for six hours in advance).

Rum and Raisin Creamsicles
Easy Rum and Raisin Popsicles. I took this picture on a hot day, and my oval
ice tray shattered as I placed it on the board. 

I'm impatient with foodsters who consider condensed milk (like its cousin evaporated milk) a trashy ingredient.  It's really versatile for quick desserts, its chief advantage over sugar being that you don't have to wait for it to dissolve. This recipe is loosely based on my Frozen Lemon Cream Dessert (from my book Scrumptious Food for Family and Friends).

I use shot/tequila glasses as moulds because I love their shape - you can buy these in bulk in big hypermarkets. If you don't have any ice-cream sticks, use silvery teaspoons (bowl side down), which work just as well.


Easy Rum and Raisin Popsicles

½ cup (125 ml) raisins
½  cup (125 ml) dark rum, plus more to taste
1 x 385 g tin condensed milk
1 Tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice
1 Tbsp (15 ml) good instant coffee (this produces a pleasing colour)
1 tub (250 ml) whipping cream

Soak the raisins in half a cup of rum for about six hours, or until they have absorbed most of the alcohol. Strain them (reserving the liquid), place them on a board and chop them roughly, leaving a few whole. Put them into a mixing bowl along with the rum they soaked in and add the condensed milk, lemon juice and coffee. Whisk well to combine. In a separate bowl, beat the cream to a soft peak, then  fold the cream very gently into the condensed milk mixture.

At this point, you may want to add more rum to give the ice creams a proper kick.  I add about a quarter of a cup (80 ml) more, but you can gently mix in up to 100 ml extra.  Don't overdo the rum, however, as alcohol can inhibit the freezing of ice cream, and your lollies will not hold their shape when you unmould them.

Spoon (or pipe) the mixture into the glasses or your moulds, filling them right to the top, and push in a stick or teaspoon. If the sticks won't stand upright, wait for 20 minutes, or until the mixture has firmed a little.  Freeze for 6-8  hours, or until solid.  It's tricky getting these to stand up in a freezer with drawers, so I suggest you empty out a drawer and put a small tray in it. Push the drawer half closed so it's standing level, then put the glasses on the tray one by one before pushing the drawer all the way closed.

To remove them from their moulds, heat a damp dishcloth in the microwave and briefly wrap it around each glass while gently twisting the stick and pulling upwards.

Serve on a bed of crushed ice, or on an ice sheet made by pouring water into a tray and freezing it overnight.

Makes about 12 lollies, depending on the size of your mould.  


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Sunday, 18 December 2011

Tower of Christmas Ice Cream with Berries and Meringues

Tower of Christmas Ice Cream with Berries and Meringues
I think a Christmas dessert should draw gasps of delight and excitement when it arrives at the table, because that's what feasts are all about, aren't they? My attempt to make a splendid tower of ice cream certainly drew some gasps when my family saw me making it, although whether these were of delight I can't say. Bafflement, more like. "Are you sure that's not going to topple over?" my daughter asked.  Well, I wasn't  sure, but it turned out all right in the end.

Okay, the tower had a rakish tilt to it, but once I'd festooned it with meringues and poured summer berries all over it, it looked pretty spectacular (although it was another matter fitting it back into the freezer, and I think I'll draw a veil over that episode).

I used three plastic flower pots of diminishing size to mould the ice cream, first plugging the holes with a blob of Prestik and lining the bottom of each pot with with a circle of baking paper.

The tower used exactly five litres of just-softened  vanilla ice cream (proper dairy ice cream, that is) and each layer contained a different filling.

To the base layer, I added a jar of fruit mincemeat, chopped hazelnuts, chocolate chips and crumbled Amaretti biscuits.

 A dessert of dizzying height
The second layer contained coffee, whiskey and more chopped up chocolate, and the third layer was plain ice cream (a special concession to picky eaters).

You can add anything you fancy to the ice cream - have a look at my Layered Christmas Ice Cream Cake with White Chocolate and Berries for more ideas.

When the layers were frozen, I pulled out the blobs of Prestik to release the vacuum and then wrapped heated cloths around each pot to loosen the ice cream.

Once the layers were stacked, the tower went back into the freezer for half an hour to firm up (oh, okay, I had to take out two of the drawers to fit it in) and then I poured the berries all over it.

You can make the individual layers a few days ahead of Christmas, but cover each one tightly with clingfilm so that the ice cream doesn't pick up an unpleasant whiff of freezer.

The quickest way to heat a cloth is to wet it and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds. You'll need to reheat the cloth a few times for each mould.

More of my Christmas recipes (find all of them on my festive Pinterest board

Boozy, Fruity Trifle Cake for Christmas

Layered Christmas Ice Cream Cake with White Chocolate and Berries

Christmas Gammon Glazed with Brandy and Coke

Butterflied Turkey with a Ricotta, Nut and Apricot Stuffing

Mango and Macadamia Turkey Stuffing with Sage and Sausage Meat

Festive Turkey Stuffing with Green Peppercorns, Pork Sausage, Apple and Thyme

Festive Phyllo Crackers with a Spicy Plum and Almond Filling

Roasted Pressed Beetroot with Sour Cream, for a Christmas buffet

Christmassy Plum and Tamarind Sauce
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Thursday, 8 December 2011

Boozy, Fruity Trifle Cake for Christmas

I couldn't decide between a chocolate-nutty cake or a boozy-fruity one for this, my second Christmas recipe for 2011, so I asked my Facebook friends which one they'd most fancy on the table this year. Although a few were doggedly in the chocolate camp, most voted for a boozy/fruity pudding.  My friend Fiona Snyckers summed it up very well: "When Pooh Bear was asked to choose between honey or condensed milk, he got over-excited and said 'both!'. But if I have to pick one, I'd say boozy-fruity because it's a once-a-year thing. You can have choc-nutty every other day of the year. Christmas is all about the brandy-soaked cherries."

Boozy, Fruity Trifle Cake for Christmas 

My sentiments exactly. I'm not sure what to call my new Christmas confection, because it's something of a hybrid: part trifle and part cheesecake, with a nod to a classic Italian zuccotto. With a creamy, fruity filling and a lining of booze-soaked Madeira cake, it's sure to appeal to guests who are expecting a wickedly rich, Christmassy-tasting dessert at the end of a festive meal.

This is easy to make and can be prepared a day (or even two) in advance, although the whipped-cream icing should be made and spread over the cake not more than an hour before you serve it. 

I used a delicious Klein Constantia sweet dessert wine for soaking the Madeira cake, but you could use sherry, hanepoot, port or any similar fortified wine.

You can add anything you like to this filling. I used toasted slivered almonds for crunch, and crushed Amaretti biscuits for their lovely bitter almondiness, but I think what would make this pud perfect is some sour-sweet brandied cherries (thanks for the suggestion, Fiona). I didn't have any of these to hand when I made this,  but I'm soaking fresh cherries in brandy as we speak for use on the big day.

Part trifle and part cheesecake, with a nod to a classic Italian zuccotto

Boozy, Fruity Trifle Cake for Christmas

2 Madeira-cake loaves (trifle sponges)
1 cup (250 ml) sweet dessert wine, or similar
3 Tbsp (45 ml) tepid water
4 tsp (20 ml) gelatine powder
400 g cream cheese (I use full-fat cream cheese, but you could use a half-half mixture of full-fat and low fat)
2/3 cup (160 ml) icing sugar
1 cup (250 ml) fruit mincemeat, from a jar
2/3 cup (160 ml) slivered almonds, lightly toasted
16 Amaretti biscuits, lightly crushed
3 Tbsp (45 ml) brandy or whiskey
1 cup (250 ml0 cream

For the icing:
350 ml cream
3 Tbsp (45 ml) icing sugar
a few drops of vanilla extract

Grease a 24-cm spring-form cake tin and line it with baking paper. (Cut out a circle for the base, and a long strip of paper that's the same width as the height of the cake ring. Alternatively, you can line the tin with several sheets of clingfilm.)

Cut the Madeira loaves horizontally (that is, with your bread knife held parallel to the chopping board) into long, 1-cm thick slices. Each slice will be about as wide as the cake tin is high. Pour the dessert wine into a shallow dish. Quickly dip each slice into the wine and then press the slices one by one around the edges of the tin. Use more dipped slices to line the bottom of the tin, pulling them into pieces if necessary and fitting them together like a jigsaw. Don't worry if the sponge lining looks uneven and messy: the whole cake will be covered with whipped cream. Reserve any left-over slices of cake for the topping. Put the tin in the fridge while you make the filling.

Put the tepid water in a teacup-sized bowl, sprinkle over the gelatine powder and set aside to 'sponge' for a few minutes. Place the bowl in a pot of simmering water (the water should come half-way up the sides) and stir occasionally as the gelatine melts. When the liquid is clear, remove the bowl and set aside to cool for a few minutes. (Alternatively, you can melt the gelatine very gently in a microwave oven.)

I served this on my Mum's silver tray.
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and icing sugar, until smooth. Stir in the mincemeat, almonds, crushed Amaretti biscuits and brandy (or whiskey). Stir in the melted gelatine.

In a separate bowl, whisk the cream to a soft, thick peak. Gently fold the cream into the cream-cheese filling mixture. Pour the mixture into the cake-lined tin and smooth the top. Dip the remaining slices of Maedira cake in the leftover wine and press them lightly over the top surface of the cake.  Cover the tin with clingfilm and refrigerate.

An hour or two before you're ready to serve the cake, make the icing. Whip the cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract to a firm and voluptuous (but not stiff) peak.

Take the cake out of the fridge and gently loosen it from its mould. Invert the cake on a serving platter and gently peel away the baking paper or clingfilm.

Spread the whipped cream evenly in a fairly thin layer all over the cake and decorate with silver balls, or chocolate shavings, or brandied cherries, or other festoonments of your choice.

Serve cold.

Makes one cake; serves 8-10

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