Showing posts with label meringue. Show all posts
Showing posts with label meringue. 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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Friday, 30 August 2013

Winter Pavlova with Pears, Mascarpone & Caramel Sauce

A luscious confection of vanilla-scented poached pears, a brittle meringue case, flurries of cream and a scandalously rich caramel sauce. This isn't a dessert you can rustle up in an instant - it takes time and effort to prepare - but I hope you will give it a bash, because I reckon you (and your guests) will be delighted by the result.

Winter Pavlova with Pears, Mascarpone & Caramel Sauce
Winter Pavlova with Pears, Mascarpone & Caramel Sauce.

Classic Pavlovas have a slightly squidgy centre, but this is a rather dryer version, because I'm a fan of crackly meringue that's as white as snow and crumbles to a sweet dust in your mouth. Admittedly, this isn't easy to achieve when you're baking such a large volume of whipped egg white, because much depends on your oven, the freshness of your eggs, the humidity in your kitchen, and the other vagaries of the sugar/egg relationship.

I'm not a natural when it comes to any type of meringue - damn, it's tricky to make - but after much experimentation I've found that a slow drying-out process is the way to go.

Winter Pavlova with Pears, Mascarpone & Caramel Sauce
What makes this dish special is the lovely taste of home-poached pears.

You can use any variety of pears for this recipe, provided they are small, sweet and just ripe. Yes, I know this is a tall order, because most pears are perfect for 20 minutes before they collapse into a floury mush.  But there are ways around this - please see my Cook's Notes at the end of this page.

If you're in a hurry, feel no shame in using excellent South African tinned pears. Your finished Pavlova won't look as glamorous, sure, but it will still taste glorious. And please keep the syrup for poaching other fruits. I put some cut-up guavas into the left-over syrup to cook, and my daughter described them as tasting of 'flowers and happiness'.

Winter Pavlova with Pears, Mascarpone and Caramel Sauce

5 extra-large free-range eggs
a pinch of cream of tartar
250 g caster sugar
1 x 250 g tub fresh mascarpone
1 cup (250 ml) fresh cream
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
¼ cup (60 ml) flaked almonds, lightly toasted to golden-brown in a dry frying pan

For the poached pears: 
5 small, ripe pears
2 cups (500 ml) water
1 cup (250 ml) caster sugar, or light brown sugar
1 whole vanilla pod [optional]
a thin slice of lemon, peel on

For the caramel sauce: 
1 cup (250 ml) caster sugar
5 Tbsp (75 ml) water
½ cup (125 ml) cream
3 Tbsp (45 ml) butter

First make the Pavlova. Heat the oven to 160 ºC. Separate the eggs, placing the egg whites in a spotlessly clean metal bowl. Add a pinch of cream of tartar. (Keep the yolks for making mayonnaise!)

Using an electric beater or a food processor fitted with a balloon whisk, beat the egg whites until they are standing up in stiff, dryish peaks.

Now trickle the caster sugar into the egg whites, a few tablespoons at a time, beating well between every addition. Take your time over this. When you've added all the sugar, continue beating for another 3-5 minutes, or until the meringue is extremely thick, firm and shiny (with no sign of grittiness when you rub a blob between your fingers) and easily holds its shape without drooping. (See Cook’s Notes for more tips)

Line a metal baking sheet with baking paper (put little blobs of meringue on six points under the paper to stick it down). Draw a circle on the paper, using a dinner plate as a template.

Winter Pavlova with Pears, Mascarpone & Caramel Sauce
The meringue should be very thick & glossy. 
Spread a third of your meringue mixture over the paper, in an even circle. The easiest way to do this neatly is to place a pile of meringue in the centre of the circle, and then - using a palette knife - gently press down and out to create a neat, swirling circle.

Now place generous dollops of the remaining meringue around the edges of your circle (see picture; left).

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

In the meantime, prepare the pears. Fill a large bowl with cold water and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon.  Using a potato peeler, neatly remove the skin from the whole pears, leaving their stalks intact. Drop each pear, as you've peeled it, into the bowl of lemony water.

Winter Pavlova with Pears, Mascarpone & Caramel Sauce
The syrup is flavoured with vanilla & lemon. 
To make the poaching syrup, place the water, sugar, vanilla pod and lemon slice in a saucepan, set over a medium heat and bring to the boil. When the syrup begins to bubble, stir it gently until all the sugar crystals have dissolved. Simmer the syrup for a further 5 minutes.

Place the whole pears in the syrup and bring up to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot with a lid, turn the heat down to its lowest setting, and poach the pears for 5-8 minutes, or until they are just soft.

Winter Pavlova with Pears, Mascarpone & Caramel Sauce
Let the pears cool completely. 
Fish the pears out of their poaching liquid and set aside on a plate to cool. Cut them in half lengthways, leaving a stalk on one half. Using a teaspoon or your thumbnail, gently pop the oval core out of each pear half, tearing it up towards the stalk to remove the fibrous threads.

Put the mascarpone into a bowl and beat it thoroughly until smooth. (It helps to leave it at room temperature for a few hours, until softened.) Whip the cream to a soft peak in a separate bowl, add the vanilla, and gently fold this into the mascarpone.

To make the caramel sauce, spread the caster sugar evenly over the bottom of a dry, thick-based frying pan, and sprinkle over the water.  Cook over a medium-high heat until the caramel is dark, rich golden brown, swirling the pan to distribute the dark-gold areas (see Cook's Notes)  Whisk in the cream, and then add the butter. Stir well and set aside to cool.

To assemble the Pavlova, fill the centre with two-thirds of the cream/mascarpone mixture, and arrange the pears on top, stalks pointing up. Place blobs of the remaining cream on top. Drizzle over the caramel sauce, and scatter the almonds on top.

Serves 6-8.

Cook's Notes

1. The meringue must be really, really stiff and glossy, or it will collapse in the oven.

2. The caramel sauce I've used here is loosely based on Gordon Ramsay's recipe. This is arguably the trickiest part of this recipe, as caramel is temperamental: not only does it burn with alarming speed, but it also has a tendency to crystallise for no apparent reason,  If your caramel suddenly turns thick and grainy after the sugar has melted, it cannot be rescued. Tip it into the bin, and start again in a new dry frying pan. Don't stir the caramel, and use a pastry brush to sweep any grains of sugar off the sides of the pan as it is heating.

3. To catch pears at their peak, place them in your fruit bowl alongside other fruits, which will hasten the ripening process. Check them twice a day by firmly pinching the flesh just below their stalks - when this is just soft enough to yield to the touch, peel and poach them, as described above. You can keep the pears, whole their syrup, for many days, until you're ready to make this dessert.

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Thursday, 24 February 2011

Bertie's Lemon Curd and Mascarpone Meringues, with Raspberries

Velvety, buttercup-yellow lemon curd and mascarpone make a meringue filling so rich and decadent that only a greedy, fat boy like Bertie would eat more than one.
Bertie's Lemon Curd and Mascarpone Meringues, with Raspberries
This is Bertie. I chose him to illustrate a point in a presentation I gave at last week's South African Food and Wine Bloggers' Indaba.
Bertie's Lemon Curd and Mascarpone Meringues, with Raspberries

Not satisfied to appear on just one Power Point slide, he insinuated himself into a whole lot more, while making impertinent comments about my speech. I was quite surprised by how much hilarity Bertie caused at the conference, and so I've decided to dedicate this recipe to him. (Bertie comes, by the way, from this photo archive; I've been unable to find an email address for the owner of the album so I can thank him).

These meringue nests are not made by me. I have a disastrous history with regular meringues, let alone beautiful little pure-white cups like the one in the picture. I buy them, plus pavlova cases and baby meringues, from my local Spar.

This filling, though lemony-sharp, is scandalously rich and unctuous. If you'd like a (slightly) lighter result, use whipped cream, or even thick Greek yoghurt. (What's that? Oh, Bertie says, 'No use yoghurt.' Shush, Bertie.)  If you don't fancy meringues, use this mixture to make a layered loaf  'cake' using vanilla wafers, and place it in the freezer for an hour or so before slicing.

I used frozen raspberries (which I love) to cut the sweetness of the filling and meringue, but this would also be good topped with Cape gooseberries, or some flaked, toasted almonds.

It helps to have a sugar thermometer when you are making lemon curd, but it's not essential.

The easy lemon curd recipe below is adapted from Preserved by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton, my favourite book on the subject of jams, pickles and other preserved food.
Bertie's Lemon Curd and Mascarpone Meringues, with Raspberries


Bertie's Lemon Curd and Mascarpone Meringues, with Raspberries

For the lemon curd:
2 large lemons, washed
2 large eggs
200 ml caster sugar
1 T (15 ml) cornflour [cornstarch]
140 g (140 ml) unsalted butter

1 tub (250 ml) mascarpone
8 meringue nests

To top:
Fresh or frozen raspberries, or similar
icing sugar

Using a microplane or fine grater, finely zest the lemons, taking care not to take off any white pith. Squeeze the lemon juice into a heavy-based saucepan and add the zest, eggs, sugar and cornflour. Whisk the mixture for a minute, until smooth but not frothy.  Cut the butter into little pieces and add it to the pan. Heat the mixture over a gentle flame, stirring constantly. After the butter melts, the mixture will take three or four minutes to thicken, depending on the heat of your stove.

If you have a sugar thermometer, the curd will begin to thicken as it reaches 70ºC. Allow the curd to cook for another minute after it's thickened, then remove from the heat. (If you don't have a thermometer, you'll have to go by texture: the curd is ready once it's just thickened, and has a velvety consistency. Remember, it will thicken more as it cools.)

Place a piece of clingfilm or a disc of waxed paper onto the surface of the curd and allow to cool.

Put the mascarpone in a bowl and beat with a whisk until smooth. (Or whip the cream, if you're using that instead). Fold one cup (250 ml) of the cooled curd into the mascarpone and mix until well combined. Spoon the mixture into the meringue nests, arrange the raspberries on top and dust with a little icing sugar. Serve immediately. Please don't put a mint leaf on top.

Makes enough to fill 8-10 meringue nests.

Note: If anyone would like a copy of the editorial style sheet, recommended reading list and Food Writers' Workshop notes I handed out at the conference, please email me (hobray at gmail.com). Print Friendly and PDFPrint Friendly