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Category Archives: Dessert

Tropical Pavlova

Pavlova has to be one of my favourite desserts. I love any meringue concoction – light and fluffy pavs, meringues layered with cream, chocolate, berries or nuts like vacherin or dacquoise, or little meringues sandwiched together with cream in the form of meringue kisses. They are all delightful!

I was making a pavlova for friends recently. Everyone loves a pavlova filled with cream and strawberries, but this time I wanted to fill the pav with some seasonal flavours. There is an abundance of tropical fruit available in farmers’ markets and supermarkets at the moment, which is wonderful as we swelter through a hot, late summer in Sydney.

Pineapple, mango and passionfruit were the obvious choices. Pineapples in particular are fantastic – ripe, sweet and juicy.

I also love lemon curd as a filler for pavlova, and this time I made a passionfruit/lemon curd to top the cream and provide a base for the tropical fruit. Toasted coconut added the finishing touch!

I made the pavlova as a tranche – a long rectangle. It’s great for serving a crowd. The quantities here would also make a two layer round pavlova, or a very large round one for a party.

Ingredients

Pavlova
8 egg whites
450g caster sugar
1 teaspoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons cornflour, sifted

Passionfruit/Lemon Curd
You need one whole quantity of the curd, plus most of second quantity. I suggest making the curd in 2 lots, as I think it’s a bit tricky to make a really big amount. These are the ingredients to make 1 quantity.

Juice of 2 lemons
Juice and seeds of 2 passionfruit
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 egg yolks, beaten lightly

1 small pineapple
2 mangoes
2 passionfruit
A handful of coconut shavings

600mls cream
½ teaspoon vanilla paste

Method

Pavlova
Preheat oven to 120 degrees C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. You will need a tray large enough for a rectangle (roughly) 35cm x 20cms or 14in x 8in.

Place egg whites in the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on high speed for 3-4 minutes to soft peaks.

Add caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each to be incorporated before adding the next, whisking until mixture is glossy. The meringue will be shiny and will hold stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted from the bowl. 

Reduce speed to low, then add vinegar and cornflour, beating for about 30 seconds to combine.

Spread ¾ of the mixture over the baking paper in a rectangle, smoothing the top. Place the remaining mixture in a large plastic piping bag and snip 1cm/½in off the end. Pipe the meringue onto the rectangle, in little blobs along all the sides, to make a rim.

Bake for about 1½ hours or until the meringue can be lifted easily off the paper without sticking. Turn off the oven, and leave in the oven for several hours, or even overnight, until the meringue is cold.

Passionfruit/Lemon Curd
Place all the ingredients except the passionfruit seeds in a double boiler or bain marie. Cook over a medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat, and stir through the passionfruit seeds, and set aside to cool. When cool, refrigerate until ready to use.

Cut the pineapple and mangoes into small chunks. You can, if you like, cook the pineapple in a couple of tablespoons of caster sugar and a couple of tablespoons of dark rum in a frying pan, until the pineapple is slightly softened. I think the pineapple is fine, though, without cooking.

You will need to lightly dry roast the coconut shavings in a hot frying pan for a few minutes until the coconut has some colour.

Whip the cream to soft peaks, with the vanilla paste.

To assemble, place the pavlova tranche on a large serving plate or board. Spoon the cream onto the pavlova, then top with the passionfruit/lemon curd. Place the fruit pieces on top of the curd, scattering the seeds of the other passionfruit. Finally scatter the toasted coconut over the pavlova.

The pavlova should be left for a couple of hours before serving. I think a pavlova is nicest the next day, when the flavours have had a chance to mature. A little bit messy, a little bit gooey, but definitely yummy!

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Passionfruit and Lemon Ricotta Cake

This cake is pretty easy to make, looks good and keeps really well. It’s quite dense because of the ricotta, and this helps with its keeping properties. It has both self raising flour and baking powder to help with the rise as it’s heavy.

You don’t need huge slices of this cake, either, as it’s very satisfying. Great for an afternoon tea!

Oh, and it freezes beautifully, which is good to know as you can freeze left over cake to enjoy later – much better then eating it all at the one time!

Ingredients

Cake

140g softened butter 

140g caster sugar

2 free-range eggs

200g full fat ricotta

Juice of 1 medium lemon

140g self-raising flour

1 level tsp baking powder

Buttercream Icing

400g icing sugar

200g unsalted butter

2 passionfruit

75g white chocolate (optional)

Method 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced. Grease and line with baking paper a medium sized cake tin – 18cm or 20cm works well. 

Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor. You can use a stand mixer if you like – but I find the food processor does the job just fine! Add the eggs and process well, then add the ricotta and the lemon juice. Add the flour and the baking powder and pulse a few times to just incorporate the flour. Don’t worry if the cakes looks curdled either after adding the eggs or adding the ricotta – it will come together after you mix in the flour. 

Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and bake for 30 – 40minutes, or until golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake in the tin until quite cool, then turn the cake out and remove the baking paper.

For the buttercream icing, I do use my KitchenAid mixer, as I think it helps to get a really light buttercream. But I have made buttercream quite successfully in the food processor too. 

Beat the butter and icing sugar in a stand mixer until light and creamy. Add the passionfruit, seeds and all. I melted white chocolate and added this to the buttercream to give the buttercream extra stability for piping, but you can easily not include the white chocolate.

You can ice the cake however you like. First of all I covered the whole cake in a load of buttercream. I went for the “naked” look on the sides by scraping back the icing with a palette knife to achieve the exposed effect. Then I decided to practise my piping skills by piping rosettes all over the cake. I liked the effect of the passionfruit seeds in each rosette. But a simply iced cake with buttercream is always a thing of beauty! And tastes just as good as cake with more fancy icing!

Jamie’s Cherry Cheesecake Semifreddo for Christmas

Here’s another recipe from the archives for a Christmas dessert. It’s a lovely Jamie Oliver ice cream bombe from 2013.
This cherry cheesecake semifreddo bombe is pretty spectacular when frozen in a domed bowl and then turned out. And a cold alternative to a traditional hot Christmas pudding or perhaps serve both  – that’s what I usually do!
I remember finding this dessert from a magazine of Christmas recipes produced by Woolworths, our Australian supermarket for whom Jamie is the signature chef, so the recipe was created as a seasonal dessert for Australia.
Jamie has combined three great ideas – cherries, luscious cheesecake and semifreddo for all who love ice cream.
It’s an easy recipe but you need to be prepared for a quite a few steps, and of course freezing time overnight.
I made these changes to the original recipe:
I used frozen pitted cherries rather than fresh (simply to save time pitting the fresh cherries).
I used ginger nut biscuits for the biscuit crunch component instead of digestive biscuits. This really worked as the biscuit crunch had a great festive ginger flavour!

Ingredients

150g digestive biscuits (I used ginger nuts)
75g unsalted butter
250g fresh cherries (I used frozen pitted cherries)
250g golden caster sugar
1 lemon
4 large free-range eggs
250ml double cream
250g cream cheese
50g dark chocolate
A large handful of cherries or mixed fresh berries

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until fine. Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat and stir in the blitzed biscuits and a good pinch of sea salt.
Empty the mixture into a small baking dish (roughly 15 x 20 cm), pat down and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until golden and firm. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, halve and de-stone the cherries and place in a small pan with 200g of the caster sugar. (Or use frozen cherries). Finely grate in the lemon zest and squeeze in the juice of half and place over a medium-low heat.
Gently bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6-8 minutes, or until softened and syrupy. Leave to cool completely, then blitz two-thirds of the mixture into a purée in a blender.
When you are ready to assemble the semifreddo, separate the eggs into two large mixing bowls and pour the double cream into a third bowl. Whisk the cream to soft peaks and beat in the cream cheese.
Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining caster sugar until creamy and pale and doubled in volume.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of sea salt until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the whites into the yolks, using a large metal spoon to keep the mixture as light as possible.
Beat a large spoonful of the egg mixture into the cream cheese mixture to loosen it, then carefully fold through the remaining.
Marble in half the puréed cherries and crumble in most of the biscuit mixture in large and small pieces, then fold through most of the whole cooked cherries. Spoon the semifreddo into a 1.5 litre ceramic bowl, then crumble over the remaining biscuit and ripple through most of the remaining purée. Put the dish into the freezer for at least 6 hours.
When you are ready to serve, dip the bowl 2/3 of the way into a large bowl or pan of just-boiled water, being careful not to submerge completely. Hold until you start to see the semifreddo loosen from the sides of the bowl. Place an upside down cake stand or plate on top of the bowl, and quickly turn over, holding one hand on the bowl and one hand on the cake stand.
The semifreddo should come out in a beautiful dome. Serve garnished with the remaining puree, cooked cherries, shavings of dark chocolate and a handful of fresh cherries or mixed berries.

 

 

Christmas Pudding Cake

I made this cake/pudding last Christmas, a fabulous Nigella recipe, for one of those celebration meals sometime after the big day and before New Year. I’m posting again for anyone who is looking for a relatively simple cake to make for Christmas or Boxing Day. There’s no baking required, more an assembly of different luscious elements.

It’s a kind of “tiramisu meets trifle”! Layers of liqueur soaked panettone are interspersed with a mascarpone/ cream/egg/sugar/liqueur mixture with glacé fruit, chocolate and pistachios added.

I made a couple of alterations to the original recipe. I soaked the panettone in Cointreau as the specified Tuaca liqueur is hard to obtain.  As I was unable to source marrons glacés (candied chestnuts), I used glacé ginger instead.

The other recipe alteration was entirely accidental – the recipe asks for Marsala to flavour the mascarpone mixture. I inadvertently grabbed a bottle of coffee liqueur and used this instead. A happy accident as it turned out as the cake now had a real tiramisu flavour!

The link to Nigella’s recipe is here for the original version.

A couple of points. I think finely chopped chocolate is preferable to chocolate chips as these are a little too crunchy in the cake. The other thing to take note of, is not to overbeat the mixture when you add the mascarpone as mascarpone can easily curdle as I found out to my cost!

Here is the recipe as I made it.

Ingredients

625 grams panettone (approximately)
6 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur
2 large free-range eggs at room temperature
75 gms caster sugar
500 gms mascarpone cheese
250 mls cream
125 mls coffee liqueur
75 gms glacé ginger
125 gms chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate
100 gms pistachios chopped
Pomegranate seeds from half a pomegranate

Method

Using a serrated knife, cut the panettone roughly into 1cm slices, then use about a third of these to line the bottom of a 22cm springform cake tin. Tear off pieces to fit so that there are no gaps.

Drizzle 2 tablespoons of  the orange liqueur over the panettone.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until very frothy and increased in volume and lightness.

Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and double cream, then gradually whisk in the coffee liqueur and whisk until the mixture is thick and spreadable. If you stop every so often you can gauge how thick the mixture is and whether you are in danger of overbeating.

Remove 250ml or a cup of the mixture to a bowl, cover and put in the fridge, for the top layer of the cake.

Chop the glacé ginger into small pieces and then add to the rest of the mascarpone cream mixture.  Then add 100gms of the chocolate chips and 75gms of the chopped pistachios, and fold both into the mixture.

Spoon half of the mixture on top of the panettone layer in the cake tin. Put another third of the panettone slices over the cream filling, again making sure there are no gaps. Sprinkle with another 2 tablespoons of liqueur.

Spoon the other half of the cream mixture onto to the panettone. Top with the final layer of panettone, leaving no gaps and sprinkle over the last 2 tablespoons of liqueur.

Cover the cake tightly with clingfilm, pressing down on the top a little, and put in the fridge for at least overnight.

To serve, take the cake out of the fridge, unmould it and sit it on a flat plate or cake stand, then spread with the reserved mascarpone mixture. Definitely don’t try to lift the cake off the base, as the cake is too soft and moist to remove.

Scatter the top of the cake with the remaining chocolate chips and chopped pistachios and the pomegranate seeds. The cake will look a little rustic around the sides but this is part of its charm!

Halloween Blueberry Yoghurt Cakes

It’s coming up for Halloween in week or so, and these rather lurid blue gems are the perfect thing for hungry Trick or Treaters! They’re not the prettiest cakes in the world,  but they’re yummy, crammed full of blueberries and iced with a lemon glaze. And their “blue blood” dripping dripping down the sides is sure to be a winner!

A word of warning: they’re very moist, so grease your molds really well, or maybe use paper cases. A couple of my bottoms stuck to the molds, because the mixture was so moist.

Ingredients

2 free-range eggs
140g raw sugar
75ml vegetable oil
50g fresh blueberries + extra fo decorating
100g Greek yoghurt
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla paste
100g frozen blueberries

Icing
Juice of a lemon
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
Blue food colouring

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Grease a 6 cup large muffin mould, or use a normal muffin mould and you will get 6-8 smaller cakes. Remember to grease very well or use paper cases.

Put the eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until the eggs are frothy. Add the sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has increased in volume. Add the the oil and the fresh blueberries and continue whisking. You actually want the fresh blueberries to break up a bit to give some “blue” colour to the mixture. Add the yoghurt and whisk until incorporated. The mixture will be quite liquid.

Add the flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla paste. Gently incorporate into the mixture. Fold in the frozen blueberries.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin holes, filling to about three quarters way up.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, but the cakes may cook more quickly. Check the cakes at 15 minutes and then at 5 minutes intervals, using a skewer to test for “doneness”.

Cool for 5 minutes before very carefully turning out the cakes.

To make the icing, add enough of the juice of a lemon to the icing sugar to make a droppable icing. Spoon out half of the lemon icing and add blue food colour to the half mixture drop by drop until you have the right shade of blue.

Ice the cakes with the both the plain icing and blue icing in whatever artistic or crazy way you like! But make sure the icing drips to suit the Halloween theme! Finally add a blueberry on top of each cake.




 

Blood Orange Upside Down Cakes

IMG_7705 IMG_7697It’s the last couple of weeks for blood oranges in Sydney. Nothing beats the flavour and colour of blood oranges – I await the arrival of these ruby red gems eagerly each year and try to include them in lots of delicious recipes. I made these mini cakes a year ago, and, looking over blood orange recipes, thought I would repost this one again, just in time for the last of the fruit.

These are some more blood orange treats I have posted and are definitely worth a try.

Blood Orange Breakfast Sorbet with Granola and Fresh Fruit

Blood Orange Friands

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

Little Strawberry and Blood Orange Cakes

Here’s the recipe for these “mini” blood orange cakes.

Ingredients 

Candied orange slices

2 blood oranges

200g caster sugar

Cakes

2 blood oranges

200g  caster sugar

125g very soft butter

2 free range eggs

½ tsp vanilla essence

125g plain flour

75g ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

Method

For the candied orange slices, finely slice 2 of the oranges, discarding the ends and keeping as many slices intact as you can.

Dissolve 200g of the sugar in 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan, and bring to the boil. Carefully place the orange slices in the syrup and simmer them until they are soft and sticky. Remove from the syrup using tongs. If the syrup is not reduced enough, cook it for a few minutes extra to thicken – but don’t let it go to toffee.

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.

I use a set of mini cake tins which have removeable bottoms for these upside cakes, see the photo.

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You could also use mini springform tins, but you will end up with small cakes rather than mini cakes. If you don’t have a tin/s with removeable bottoms, you could use an ordinary muffin tin, but turning out the mini cakes will be tricky, as you need to keep the candied orange slices intact.

Grease whatever tins you are using well, and line the bases with circles of baking paper.

Chop 2 of the blood oranges in quarters and remove each end. Blitz in the food processor until reasonably finely chopped – there should still be some small chunks in the mixture. Add the butter and 200g of the sugar and blitz in the food processor. The mixture will look very curdled!

Add the eggs and vanilla and blitz again, the mixture will still look very curdled! Gently fold in the flour and baking powder, making sure not to over mix or the cake with toughen. The cake mixture will now look “normal”.

Place the candied orange slices on the paper bases in the tin/s, one should be enough unless you are using a larger tin. Be as artistic as possible, remembering, as these are upside down cakes, that the bottoms become the top! Place the batter over the top of the slices.

Bake for 20- 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean. As these cakes are small, they may need a little less cooking, but they are also quite moist, so may need the allotted time. My advice is check after 15 minutes and keep checking thereafter. If you are using small springform pans you will need a little longer.

Remove from the oven once cooked and cool the tin/s on a wire rack. When the cakes are cool (not cold), carefully remove each mini cake from the tin/s. Even more carefully, take off the bases and peel away the baking paper.

Brush the mini cakes with the blood orange syrup and serve. IMG_7726

Cherry Jam Meringue Slice

DBF6387D-B84A-4718-85A6-FA7479BB6492 5DCC3599-F2AE-43F0-A89D-FE36FC88BDE8I was flicking through my mother’s well thumbed and dearly loved hand written recipe book, looking for inspiration for a sweet treat to make. I came across her recipe for German Biscuits, a lovely biscuit, jam and meringue recipe. I have made and blogged German Biscuits before – see here for the post. Where the recipe comes from is a little unclear as my post details, but presumably it would be German in origin!

This time I made the slice, as this is what it really is, with cherry jam, instead of apricot, but really any kind of jam works fine.

Ingredients

2 tbls butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs (yolks and whites separated)
1 cup SR flour or enough to make a stiff dough
Cherry jam
Flaked almonds

Method

Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees C fan-forced. Line a square baking tin with baking paper. I used a 20cm square tin.

Cream the butter and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a food processor. Add the beaten egg yolks with a very little water. Mix in the sifted flour. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness, and place in the lined tin.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until the biscuit is cooked and golden on top. Remove from the oven. Turn the oven down to 130 degrees C.

Spread the biscuit with the cherry jam to cover. Beat the egg whites until stiff, then add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating mixture until it is of stiff meringue consistency.

Spoon the meringue over the cherry jam, creating rough peaks. Sprinkle liberally with the almonds. Bake in a slow oven  to dry the meringue for about 15 minutes. You can open the oven door after 15 minutes and check to see if the meringue is firm to the touch but still has a marshmallow consistency. Cook for a little longer if necessary.

Remove from the oven and when cool, remove the slice by lifting the baking paper out of the tin. Cut into squares to serve. 709FC6C5-2BDF-4BCC-8B5C-3D024CA45F50.jpeg

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