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Luscious Lemon Pie


Everyone loves lemons and everyone loves pies, so a really tangy, deep and luscious lemon pie is a wonderful thing. This lemon pie is pretty easy to make. The base is made with crushed biscuit and nuts, with three ingredients, and the filling has just three ingredients too!

I make the pie with an Italian meringue topping. You don’t have to have this – you could just as easily serve it with whipped cream on top, or simpler still, pile up a whole heap of lovely fresh berries like raspberries or blueberries on the pie, and the berries cut through the sweetness of the filling.

I have made this pie with ordinary and with Meyer lemons, and while not essential, Meyer lemons give the pie a lovely flavour.

Ingredients 

Biscuit Base

160g ginger nut biscuits + 90g digestive biscuits (McVities are my fave)

80g salted macadamias (you could use almonds if you like)

100g butter

Filling 

2 tins sweetened condensed milk

4 large free-range egg yolks

Juice of 4 lemons + the juice of 1/2 lemon 

Zest of 1 lemon

Meringue Topping (optional)

100g caster sugar

2 free-range egg whites

Pinch of cream of tartar

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan-forced. You will need a 20cm pie/tart tin or dish. A larger tin or dish is fine, you will end up with a shallower pie. A loose bottom tin, while not essential, makes it easier to get the pie out of the tin.

Put the biscuits and macadamias into a ziplock bag and bash with a rolling pin or mallet till you have a rubble of biscuit pieces and crumbs. Place the biscuit/nut mixture into a food processor, and blitz until you have mostly fine crumbs with a few larger biscuit and nut pieces. Melt the butter in a microwave or on the stovetop.

Stir the butter through the biscuit/nut mixture. Press the mixture into the tin, on the base and up the sides. Keep pressing with your fingers to make sure the base covers the tin and there are no holes. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the base is firm. Remove from the oven.

While the base is cooking, put the condensed milk, egg yolks, lemon juice and zest into the food processor and whizz until everything is well blended. Pour onto the warm base. The mixture should come almost up to the top of the tin. You may end up with a little too much lemon mixture, you can always bake this in a little tin or muffin mold and you have an extra dessert! Cook’s treat!

Bake for 20 minutes or until just set but the middle still has a slight wobble. You might like to check it after 17 or 18 minutes. Everyone’s oven is different and some ovens cook faster then others.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before removing from the tin. Or, if your pie is baked in a dish, leave as is. Chill in the fridge for at least a few hours.

Meringue topping (if using)

Combine sugar and 100ml water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook until syrup reaches 115C (soft ball stage) using a thermometer.

Now whisk the egg whites with cream of tartar on medium speed in a grease-free bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Cook the sugar syrup to 121C (hard ball stage). With the mixer speed still on medium, carefully and gradually pour the syrup into the beaten egg whites. Increase speed to high and beat until the meringue is cooled to room temperature and it is thick and glossy.

Spoon the meringue into a piping beg with a plain nozzle, or you could just use a ziplock bag with the end snipped off – works a treat! Pipe in whatever way you like  on top of the lemon pie. Scorch with a kitchen blow torch for added wow!

Serve with whipped cream and berries, lemon slices and anything else you fancy.

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!

Berry Meringue Cake for Christmas

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I made this cake last year for my friend Ruth’s birthday. I’m re-blogging it here as Christmas approaches as it would make a colourful festive offering.

I  think it would be lovely to have at Christmas time – maybe on Boxing Day if not on the big day itself.  It has echoes of a Christmas trifle – fresh berries, sponge and cream.  The meringue gives another texture to the creation.

Each layer is easy to make, and the whole cake can be assembled on the day you bake it. But it does take a little more time than (my) average throw-all-the-ingredients-in-the-food-processor cake!

To make it, you construct layers of meringue and sponge cake with layers of berry mousse, rasbberry jam, more berries and cream. The mousse really softens the meringue layers and make the sponge cake almost dissolve.

You will need: meringue layers, sponge cake layers, berry mousse, raspberry jam, whipped cream and fresh berries.

Berry Mousse – I used raspberries, blackberries and a few cherries. I’ve made it before with blueberries and strawberries in the mix too.

Ingredients
400g mixed frozen berries
125g caster sugar
300ml cream
1 sheet gelatine
Method
Soften gelatine in a bowl of water for 5 minutes. Place frozen berries in a saucepan with the caster sugar. Cook over a low heat until the sugar dissolves and the berries begin to break down. Remove from heat.
Squeeze excess water from the gelatine and add to the berry/sugar mixture in the saucepan. Stir gently to dissolve the gelatine. Set aside to cool. Whip the cream to soft peaks in an electric mixer. At this stage you can strain the berry mixture if you want a pure mousse, or you can leave the broken down berries in the mixture if you want a more fruity mousse.
Fold the berry mixture carefully into the whipped cream. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour until the mousse has thickened but not set completely.
Meringue Layers

Ingredients
4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
a few drops of vanilla essence
1/4 tsp balsamic vinegar

Method
Preheat oven to 120 degrees C. Roughly mark out rectangles the same size as the sponge cake tins on baking paper (about 23cm x 33 cm). Turn over the pieces of baking paper – you can see the rectangle markings – and place them on each of 2 baking trays.
Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff. Gradually beat in sugar, continue beating until very stiff. Stir in vanilla and vinegar.
Spoon meringue onto paper rectangles, smoothing out tops so there no obvious peaks.
Place baking trays in centre of oven. Cook for 10 minutes to set the meringue, then turn down oven to 100 degrees C.
Bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until the meringue is dry, but not brown.
Turn oven off, leave in oven with door ajar until meringue is cool. When meringues are completely cool, carefully remove from baking paper.

Sponge Cakes
Ingredients
50g cornflour
50g plain flour
50g self-raising flour
4 x 60g free range eggs, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease 2 rectangular cake tins or Swiss roll tins (I used a regular cake tin and a Swiss roll tin, both 23cm x 33 cm) and line bases with baking paper. Sift flours and 1/4 teaspoon salt together three times to aerate.
Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed for 6 minutes, or until mixture is thick, pale and tripled in volume. Gradually sift flour mixture over egg mixture while simultaneously folding in with a large metal spoon until just combined.
Divide mixture between prepared tins. Gently level the batter with a spatula. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cakes have shrunk away from the sides slightly and spring back
when gently touched.
Turn out on to baking paper-lined wire racks. Carefully peel away baking paper, then leave to cool.
To assemble the cake:

Mix a couple of tablespoons of raspberry jam with a teaspoon of water and heat for 30 seconds in the microwave. Brush the jam mixture liberally over both sponge cakes.

Place one of the meringue layers on a serving platter. Spread the meringue with 1/3 mousse. Scatter a few sliced fresh berries over the mousse. Place one of the sponge layers on top of the mousse. Spoon another 1/3 of the mousse onto the cake. Dab a little whipped cream – a couple of tablespoons – onto the mousse. Scatter a few more sliced berries over the mousse and cream. Repeat with the other sponge cake layer, the remaining 1/3 mousse, a little whipped cream and more sliced berries. Place the other meringue layer on top.

Chill in the fridge for a few hours to firm the cake. Decorate with whipped cream and fresh berries in whatever way takes your fancy.

The cake cuts well once it’s chilled. Everything softens up. It keeps well in the fridge, and like trifle, the flavour improves as everything blends together with time!

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Brown Sugar Pavlova

 

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I made some mini brown sugar pavlovas recently, see here for my previous post. The brown sugar – in this case mixed with raw sugar – gives the pavlovas quite a caramel kick. They’re a little more flavourful than the usual pav.

This recipe is not strictly a pavlova, which is a meringue dessert, in one layer, usually with sides and an indentation in the middle to hold the filling. I made two meringue discs which I sandwiched together with cream. If it had been a little more finessed, I would have called it a vacherin. I’ve made a couple of these for the blog in the past, too. But I’m still calling my rustic two layer meringue a pavlova, which it really isn’t! A pav by any other name…

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Ingredients

6 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

175g raw caster sugar

85g  soft brown sugar

1 tbls cornflour

2 teaspoons white vinegar

Filling

200ml  cream

1/2 tsp vanilla paste

Crushed Malteasers

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Draw 2 large circles (about 24cm) on baking paper on 2 baking trays.

Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Add the raw caster sugar and brown sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until all the sugar is incorporated and dissolved and the mixture is thick and glossy. Stir in the cornflour and vinegar.

Pile the mixture onto the circles on the baking paper and spread into shape with a spatula. Place the baking trays in the oven and reduce the temperature immediately to 130 degrees C. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes, then turn off the oven, prop the door ajar and leave the pavlova discs until completely cooled.

Once cooled, carefully peel away the baking paper. Choose the best pavlova disc for the top. Put the other disc onto your serving platter, upside down so that the flat, baked side is uppermost. whip the cream with the vanilla paste. Spoon the whipped cream onto the bottom layer, then sandwich with the top layer. Crush some Malteasers and scatter randomly over the pavlova.

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Here’s a quick video montage for Brown Sugar Pavlova:

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Brown Sugar Pavlova with Maple Butter Pecans

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I had lunch recently at Bills in Darlinghurst, the original restaurant created by Bill Granger, now one of several restaurants world wide showcasing Bill’s simple and iconic style. I’m a huge meringue and pavlova fan, as this blog attests, so I had to order the brown sugar pavlova. It was amazing, crisp on the outside, gooey on the inside, with a lovely caramel flavour of brown sugar.
It was really made for sharing, but this greedy diner ate it all by herself! And I didn’t share it with my Quirky Colleague, which was probably a bit mean, as the pavlova was so delicious.
So I decided to recreate it, with a few of my own tweaks on Bill’s original recipe, including changing the quantities. My version has raw caster sugar for an added caramel hit, and I served it with maple butter pecans. I mixed light sour cream with thick cream for a tang, to offset the sweetness of the meringue.

 

Ingredients

4 egg whites

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

1 tsp vanilla extract

150g raw caster sugar

55g  soft brown sugar

3/4 tbls cornflour

1/1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

Filling

150ml thick cream

50g light sour cream

1 tsp butter

50g pecans

2 tbls maple syrup

A handful of blueberries

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Draw small plate-sized circles on baking paper on a large baking tray.

Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Add the raw caster sugar and brown sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until all the sugar is incorporated and dissolved and the mixture is thick and glossy. Stir in the cornflour and vinegar.

Pile the mixture onto the circles on the baking paper and spread into shape with a spatula. Place the baking tray in the oven and reduce the temperature immediately to 130 degrees C. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes, then turn off the oven, prop the door ajar and leave the pavlovas until completely cooled.

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Combine the thick cream and the light sour cream in a bowl.  Melt the butter in a small frying pan and add the pecans. Toss in the melted butter, then add the maple syrup. Fry until the pecans are coated in the maple butter, but be careful not to turn the maple butter to toffee!

Spoon the cream mixture onto the mini pavlovas, scatter the maple pecans and blueberries over the pavlovas and drizzle with the remaining maple butter. Serve straight away. You can also freeze the unfilled pavlovas for filling at a later date.

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Strawberry and Watermelon Cake

 

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Strawberry and Watermelon Cake – bliss! But how can you combine a delicate fruit such as watermelon into an entirely delicious cake? It would be a daunting task. Watermelon, so refreshing on a hot summer’s day, a drink in fruit form. But in a cake?  And not soggy? And a cake that also has layers of dacquoise or meringue… seems tricky.

The people at Black Star Pastry in Sydney have manged just that, and other delicate and unusual flavours in cakes. I was was the recipient of their Orange Cake with Persian Fig one birthday, see here for the post.

Last week my long time friend (we’ve known each other since we were five!) Doctor Rosemary, had a dinner where she recreated the Strawberry and Watermelon Cake.

It looked and – more importantly tasted – sensational! She had managed the impossible, and achieved the dehydration of the watermelon, to create crisp layers that did not take away from the crunch of the dacquoise. I think it was texturally and taste-wise better than the original. Well done Rosemary!

 

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So here is the recipe, from Australian Gourmet Traveller. It’s worth making!

Ingredients
250 g seedless watermelon, thinly sliced
60 ml (¼ cup) rosewater
4 tbsp caster sugar
40 g almond meal
500 g strawberries, halved
10 seedless red grapes, halved
1 tbsp slivered pistachios
1 tbsp dried rose petals

Almond dacquoise
150 g almonds, coarsely chopped
150 gm pure icing sugar, sieved
5 free-range egg whites
135 gm caster sugar

Rose-scented cream
300 ml thickened cream
30 g caster sugar
2 tbsp rosewater

Method

For almond dacquoise, preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Process almonds in a food processor until finely ground, then combine in a bowl with icing sugar. Whisk egg whites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form (3-4 minutes), then gradually add caster sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form (1-2 minutes). Gently fold through almond mixture, spread on a 30cm x 40cm oven tray lined with baking paper and bake until golden (10-15 minutes). Set aside to cool on tray, then cut in half lengthways.
Arrange watermelon slices in a single layer on a wire rack. Sprinkle with 20ml rosewater, then scatter with 2 tbsp sugar. Stand to macerate (30 minutes), then pat dry with absorbent paper.
Meanwhile, for rose-scented cream, whisk cream and sugar in an electric mixer until soft peaks form, gradually add rosewater and whisk until stiff peaks form (do not over-whisk).
Spread one-third of rose cream evenly over one half of dacquoise, scatter with half the almond meal, then top with watermelon, trimming to fill any gaps. Scatter over remaining almond meal, spread over half remaining cream. Top with remaining dacquoise, spread over remaining cream and refrigerate until firm (1-2 hours).
Combine strawberries, remaining rosewater and remaining sugar in a bowl, toss to combine and set aside to macerate (15 minutes). Carefully arrange on top of cake, gently pushing into cream. Trim edges of cake, scatter over grapes, pistachios and petals, and serve.

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Berry Mousse Layer Cake

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I love meringue and I love a really light and airy sponge cake. I also love berries and cream. I decided to create a cake that incorporated all of these elements into one festive cake.

Each layer is easy to make, and the whole cake can be assembled on the day you bake it. But it does take a little more time than (my) average throw-all-the-ingredients-in-the-food-processor cake!

It’s a lovely celebration cake. I made it for a friend’s special birthday. It would be a great cake to serve at Christmas for dessert – it’s so fresh, colourful, full of berries – Christmas on a plate!

To make it, you construct layers of meringue and sponge cake with layers of  berry mousse, rasbberry jam, more berries and cream. The mousse really softens the meringue layers and make the sponge cake almost dissolve.

Decorate how you like – fancy or plain – the cake will look good and be delicious either way!

You will need: meringue layers, sponge cake layers, berry mousse, raspberry jam, whipped cream and fresh berries.

Berry Mousse – I used raspberries, blackberries and a few cherries. I’ve made it before with blueberries and strawberries in the mix too.

Ingredients
400g mixed frozen berries
125g caster sugar
300ml cream
1 sheet gelatine
Method
Soften gelatine in a bowl of water for 5 minutes. Place frozen berries in a saucepan with the caster sugar. Cook over a low heat until the sugar dissolves and the berries begin to break down. Remove from heat.
Squeeze excess water from the gelatine and add to the berry/sugar mixture in the saucepan. Stir gently to dissolve the gelatine. Set aside to cool. Whip the cream to soft peaks in an electric mixer. At this stage you can strain the berry mixture if you want a pure mousse, or you can leave the broken down berries in the mixture if you want a more fruity mousse.
Fold the berry mixture carefully into the whipped cream. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour until the mousse has thickened but not set completely.

Meringue Layers

Ingredients
4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
a few drops of vanilla essence
1/4 tsp balsamic vinegar

Method
Preheat oven to 120 degrees C. Roughly mark out rectangles the same size as the sponge cake tins on baking paper (about 23cm x 33 cm). Turn over the pieces of baking paper – you can see the rectangle markings – and place them on each of 2 baking trays.
Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff. Gradually beat in sugar, continue beating until very stiff. Stir in vanilla and vinegar.
Spoon meringue onto paper rectangles, smoothing out tops so there no obvious peaks.
Place baking trays in centre of oven. Cook for 10 minutes to set the meringue, then turn down oven to 100 degrees C.
Bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until the meringue is dry, but not brown.
Turn oven off, leave in oven with door ajar until meringue is cool. When meringues are completely cool, carefully remove from baking paper.

Sponge Cakes
Ingredients
50g cornflour
50g plain flour
50g self-raising flour
4 x 60g free range eggs, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease 2 rectangular cake tins or Swiss roll tins (I used a regular cake tin and a Swiss roll tin, both 23cm x 33 cm) and line bases with baking paper. Sift flours and 1/4 teaspoon salt together three times to aerate.
Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed for 6 minutes, or until mixture is thick, pale and tripled in volume. Gradually sift flour mixture over egg mixture while simultaneously folding in with a large metal spoon until just combined.
Divide mixture between prepared tins. Gently level the batter with a spatula. Bake for 15-20 minutes  or until cakes have shrunk away from the sides slightly and spring back
when gently touched.
Turn out on to baking paper-lined wire racks. Carefully peel away baking paper, then leave to cool.

To assemble the cake:

Mix a couple of tablespoons of raspberry jam with a teaspoon of water and heat for 30 seconds in the microwave. Brush the jam mixture liberally over both sponge cakes.

Place one of the meringue layers on a serving platter. Spread the meringue with 1/3 mousse. Scatter a few sliced fresh berries over the mousse. Place one of the sponge layers on top of the mousse. Spoon another 1/3 of the mousse onto the cake. Dab a little whipped cream – a couple of tablespoons – onto the mousse. Scatter a few more sliced berries over the mousse and cream. Repeat with the other sponge cake layer, the remaining 1/3 mousse, a little whipped cream and more sliced berries. Place the other meringue layer on top.

Chill in the fridge for a few hours to firm the cake. Decorate with whipped cream and fresh berries in whatever way takes your fancy.

The cake cuts well once it’s chilled. Everything softens up. It keeps well in the fridge, and like trifle, the flavour improves as everything blends together with time!

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Pavlova Stack with Burnt Salted Caramel

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This is a great dessert which is relatively easy to make. If you can make meringue, toffee and crème pâtissière,  you can create this rustic spectacular! I call it a pavlova stack, as the meringue layers are like mini pavlovas.

The base of the dessert is 3 layers of pavlova/meringue. They are stacked on top of each other with a filling of crème légère and burnt salted caramel sauce.  You can top the pavlova stack with almond praline shards. You could be very precise in making the cake – piping the meringue and piping the crème légère. Or go rustic and free form and just spoon everything on, smoothing out a few rough edges here and there.

Here are the recipes for the component parts: pavlovas, crème légère, burnt salted caramel sauce and almond praline.

Pavlovas

Ingredients

6 egg whites

300g caster sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Method

Preheat oven to 120 degrees C, 100 Gas 1⁄2. Don’t cook these pavlovas on fan-forced setting.

Place a sheet of baking paper on 2 baking trays. Draw a circle on one sheet, 20cm/8 inches in diameter. Turn the baking paper over so that you can see the pencil marking on the other side. Draw 2 smaller circles on the other sheet of baking paper, 15cm/6 inches and 13cm/5 inches in diameter. Turn the paper over so you can see the circle markings. You should be able to fit the 2 smaller circles on one baking sheet.

Do not grease the baking paper!

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff. Gradually beat in sugar, a teaspoon at a time, until very stiff. Stir in vanilla and vinegar.

Spoon the mixture onto the 3 paper circles. You can “anchor” the baking paper down by putting a small dob of meringue under each corner of the paper.

Place baking trays in the oven. Bake for 1.5 to 1.75 hours, depending on your oven.  The pavlovas should be quite dry, but still white – if they are brown they have been cooked too long.

Turn oven off, leave in oven a for further hour or you could leave until quite cold.

Crème Légère – Crème légère is crème pâtissière combined with whipped cream. The result is a light, custardy cream great for filling puff pastry items like eclairs or for filling cake layers.

Crème Pâtissière

Ingredients

500g full fat  milk

6 free-range egg yolks

45g cornflour

120g caster sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract/paste

60g salted butter

Method

Put the milk into a saucepan over a medium heat till just simmering. While the milk is heating, place egg yolks, cornflour, sugar and vanilla in a bowl, and whisk till combined and you have a smooth paste.  Add half of the just simmered milk into the egg mixture and whisk this just to combine. Essentially, you are tempering the eggs, so that they don’t scramble by adding all the hot milk at once. Then add all this mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk. Bring the mixture back to a simmer, whisking, or stirring with wooden spoon, until the the mixture has thickened considerably. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and leave to cool.

To make the creme légère to sandwich the pavlovas together, combine half the crème pat with 300mls whipped cream. The cream must be whipped past soft peaks stage until it is quite stiff – but be careful it doesn’t turn to butter! The idea is that the cream is stiff enough to incorporate the custard.

Burnt Salted Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

200g white sugar

90g salted butter, in small pieces

120ml cream

1 tsp salt

Method

Heat the sugar in a heavy bottomed  saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until the sugar turns into a tea coloured liquid as you continue to stir. At this stage the toffee/caramel flavour is achieved. If you take the liquid to a slightly darker brown colour, you will achieve that “burnt’ flavour – but beware it is really easy to actually burn the caramel!

Now add the butter  very carefully – the caramel will bubble up. Stir the caramel until the butter is completely melted.

Pour in the cream while continuing to stir. The mixture will  bubble when cream is added. Allow the mixture to boil for about a minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the  salt.

Allow to cool before using. The caramel will thicken on cooling and thicken even more in the fridge. To ensure the caramel sauce is pour-able for the pavlovas, VERY carefully microwave to warm up on low heat. Or you could sit the container in a bowl of hot water to warm up.

Almond Praline

Heat 1/2 cup of caster sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Be careful not to stir the sugar – tilt the saucepan to help melt the sugar. Cook for several minutes until the sugar turns a deep caramel tea colour and take off the heat. It’s a fine line between toffee that’s cooked and toffee that’s burnt! *

Pour onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Quickly scatter over a handful of almond flakes.

Leave to cool and harden. When completely cold, break up the praline into jagged shards.

To Assemble the Stack:

Place the largest pavlova on serving plate. It’s best to place with the bottom on the plate, and nice side up – I forgot with this layer and turned the pavlova layer the wrong way up. Smother with about half the crème légère. Drizzle or spoon over, according to taste, a couple of tablespoonfuls of the burnt salted caramel sauce.

Place the middle sized pavlova on top as the next layer. Spoon about quarter of the crème légère over this layer, and drizzle or spoon a tablespoon – or more – of the caramel sauce.  Put the remaining pavlova on top.

At this stage you can refrigerate for a couple of hours until ready serve. There is no reason for not serving the pavlova stack as is – see photo below. It looks pretty good!

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However, to make it utterly delicious and decadent, when you are ready to serve, pile on the remaining crème légère, drizzle with more caramel sauce and decorate with the almond praline shards.

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 *Tip for cleaning the praline saucepan: fill the pan with water and heat on the stove top till just boiling. Turn off heat and leave for a few minutes – the hardened toffee should hopefully dissolve making the pan easy to clean.

 

Salted Caramel Meringue Cake Slice

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I have incorporated my love of salted caramel with my new invention “the cake slice”, which I accidentally hit upon when making a slice recently. A cake slice, in my definition, is a traybake or slice in which the base is “cakey” and the topping quite soft and maybe a little bit gooey!

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This Salted Caramel Meringue Cake Slice was inspired by a recipe of my grandmother, “German Biscuit” previously written about in this blog: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/06/27/german-biscuits/

That recipe combines a rich shortbread base with an apricot jam and meringue topping – I substituted the jam for a salted caramel filling in my version, plus I tweaked some of the measurements.

Ingredients

Shortbread and Meringue

2 tbls butter
1/2 cup sugar + 1/3 cup for meringue
2 eggs (yolks and whites separated)
Enough self raising flour to make a stiff dough (or plain flour with 1/2 tsp baking powder)

Salted Caramel Filling

I used some Dulce de Leche in a jar – enough to cover the shortbread. I added a tablespoon of butter and also of demerara sugar and blitzed in the food processor to combine to loosen the caramel. I think that the additions may not have been needed as the mixture was a little runny. Add sea salt to taste for the “salted” effect.

Method

Cream butter and sugar in a food  processor. Add beaten egg yolks and a little water. Mix in sifted flour. Roll out to about 1/2 cm thickness and place in a baking tin lined with baking paper and greased. Bake for about 10-15 minutes at 160 degrees C  or until biscuit is cooked and golden.  Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

Spread the biscuit with the salted caramel to cover.

Beat egg whites until stiff, then add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, beating mixture until of meringue consistency.

Spoon the meringue over the caramel, creating rough peaks. Bake in a slow oven (130 degrees C) to dry the meringue for about 15 minutes. The meringue should feel firm but spongy.

Remove from oven and when cool, cut into “cakey” slices.

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Chocolate Mousse Meringue Cake

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Chocolate Mousse Meringue Cake is basically a vacherin with a chocolate mousse filling. Two layers of meringue are sandwiched together with Nigella’s chocolate mousse, whipped cream and strawberries.  Not for the faint hearted, and definitely not for the diet conscious!

Meringues

Ingredients

6 egg whites
1.5 cup caster sugar
A few drops of vanilla essence
1/2tsp balsamic vinegar
3 heaped tbs cocoa or to taste
150g dark chocolate

Method

Preheat oven to 150degrees C (non fan forced).

Place a sheet of baking paper on each of 2 baking trays.
Roughly mark out a circle on each  – about the diameter of a dinner plate.
Spray lightly with non-stick spray.

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff.
Gradually beat in sugar, continue beating until very stiff.
Stir in vanilla and vinegar, then stir in cocoa and chopped chocolate.
Spoon onto paper circles.
Place baking trays in centre of oven.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Turn oven off, leave in oven with door ajar for further hour.

Chocolate Mousse

http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/instant-chocolate-mousse-4

When meringues are completely cool, carefully remove from baking paper.
Place 1 meringue with flat side facing up on a plate.
Spoon chocolate mousse onto meringue, top with cut strawberries and then whipped cream.
Place second meringue on top, flat side down.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Decorate with fresh berries and sprinkled chocolate as desired.

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