The Most Amazing Chocolate Raspberry Layered Pavlova

Layered Pavlova

This recipe really does deserve the title above. We had it for dessert on Boxing Day, and it was a huge hit. I was looking for an idea which I could make ahead and then assemble on the day – I really didn’t want to be cooking on Christmas Day, or early morning on Boxing Day, so I made all the component parts in advance, kept the creme patissiere in the fridge, covered, until the morning of Boxing day, and then assembled.

The creme patissiere is actually very easy to make; the flour in it stabilises it. The hardest part for me was peeling the paper off the meringues without damaging them. I had to call for an extra pair of hands for the last one.

The raspberries in this are great – hidden in the meringue layers and arranged on top – they give little pops of sharpness in contrast to the chocolate.

Ingredients

For the meringues:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

For the creme patissiere:

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 300ml milk
  • 300ml double cream
  • 100 grams dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cream layers:

  • 400g fresh raspberries
  • 300ml double cream

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 140C.
  2. Line 3 baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Draw a circle 20cm diameter on each sheet (I just drew around a cake tin).
  3. Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Add the sugar very slowly, beating again after each spoonful. Sieve over the cocoa powder and add the vinegar; fold this in.
  4. Spread the meringues onto the baking parchment circles. Bake in the oven for one hour. Then turn the oven off, and allow to cool. Note: I kept the meringues in an airtight tin.
  5. To make the creme patissiere, beat the egg yolks and sugar together, then add the cocoa and flour. Whisk together. Heat the milk and cream together in a saucepan. When it is hot, slowly pour the milk and cream onto the eggs and sugar, whisking constantly. Pour everything back into the saucepan and put it back on to the heat. Keep stirring. Don’t stop stirring, and bring it to the boil. It will thicken. Then take it off the heat and add the vanilla.
  6. Allow the creme patissiere to cool. Note: I covered it with buttered greaseproof paper and put it in the fridge.
  7. Whip the cream until it is firm.
  8. To assemble the meringue, place one meringue on your serving plate. Cover with a third of the creme patissiere. Then scatter over a quarter of the raspberries, then smooth over half the cream. Place the next meringue on top, and repeat with the chocolate, raspberries and cream. The final meringue just has chocolate creme patissiere, and half the raspberries arranged as you like.
  9. Like most meringue-based desserts, you don’t want to assemble this too far in advance or it will go soggy. However, this is a great dessert to impress a crowd; yesterday, this fed 8 adults, 4 children and there was still over a quarter left.

Mini Cheesecakes

A few days ago, my husband organised a series of events in aid of the Stroke Association. One of the events was a bake sale.

As it was summer, and the middle of a heatwave, I didn’t really want to spend hours in the kitchen with a hot oven. I also wanted something which had a fresh, summery feel to it. The added challenge of the Forever Nigella theme for July being ‘Party Party’ gave me more inspiration. This month it is hosted by A Kick at the Pantry Door.ForeverNigella_Banner_26

I had spotted Nigella’s recipe for Cherry Cheesecake while watching the TV programme, and had like it, as it is not a baked cheesecake. I do love baked cheesecake, but this one was quicker and simpler. Also, no cooking involved!

As it was for a bake sale, I decided to miniturise the cheesecake into cupcake sizes, and give it a summery twist by using summer fruits and lemon. I had to fiddle around with the quantities of the cheesecake mixture quite a bit – unlike cupcakes, a cheesecake recipe doesn’t divide neatly into 12!

Ingredients

  • 150g digestive biscuits
  • 75g butter
  • 400g cream cheese
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 300ml double cream
  • Fruit to decorate
  • Apricot glaze

Method

  1. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with 12 muffin cases.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whizz the biscuits in a food processor until they are crumbs. Add the melted butter and whizz again.
  3. Press the biscuit mixture into the cases and refrigerate.

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  1. In a clean bowl, beat the cream cheese. Sieve in the icing sugar and the zest and juice from the lemon. Mix thoroughly.
  2.  In another bowl, whip the double cream until it is thick and fairly stiff. Fold this into the cream cheese mixture.
  3. Put the cream cheese mixture into a piping bag and pipe the filling on top of the base (you don’t have to pipe it; I just found it easier).

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  1. Chill again. When the filling is firm, top with your choice of fruit.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of apricot glaze in a saucepan. When boiling, paint the glaze on top of the cheesecakes.
  3. Chill until serving.

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Although I didn’t do these for a party, I think they would work brilliantly.

If anyone knows how I can insert photos without the numbering re-starting, I would be grateful if you could let me know in the comments! Thank you!

Chocolate Pudding (in the microwave)

Microwave Pudding

I have never made a pudding in a microwave. In fact, I barely use the microwave apart from re-heating food.

However, I’m trying to make the most out of our kitchen appliances (more on that later), so when I wanted to whip up a quick pudding for after dinner, I had a look on the BBC Good Food website. I adapted their Fastest-ever Lemon pudding to a chocolate variety, and I have to say, it was dangerously quick and dangerously easy!

Ingredients

  • 100g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 25g cocoa
  • 50g chopped dark chocolate

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Place into a microwave-safe bowl. I used a 2 pint pudding basin.
  3. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Leave to stand for 1 minute.
  4. Serve with ice cream.

 

Easter Meringue Roulade

Here’s the truth: I love Nigella. It’s not a confession; I say it with pride. I love her confidence, her programmes, her glossiness, her lifestyle, her lavishness. But most of all, I love her food. I’ve bought most of her books, and they are the most-used on my bookshelf.

A few years ago, I made her lemon meringue cake for Easter, adding in the seeds from passionfruit as she suggested. It was good, and I blogged about it in my old blog.

At that time, I thought I would make it again. As it happens, I haven’t – yet. However, I have got into rolled cakes in a big way – swiss rolls and Yule log have both been made in my kitchen recently. I treated myself to a Swiss Roll tin from Lakeland when we were on holiday in the Lake District and have used it several times already.

So for this month’s Forever Nigella blogging event, I chose to adapt the Lemon Meringue Cake into a rolled ‘Roulade.’ This is my first Forever Nigella event, as I am trying to enter some blogging events this month, and this is right up my street with my love of Nigella.

This month’s event is hosted by Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes and the theme is Easter. The passionfruit gives this dessert an Eastertime twist, as originally suggested by Nigella.

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Easter Meringue Roulade

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar
  • icing sugar, for dusting
  • 175ml double cream
  • 200g lemon curd
  • 3 passionfruit

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175C. Grease and line a Swiss Roll tin.
  2. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. 
  3. Whisk in the sugar gradually.
  4. Pour the whisked egg whites into the Swiss Roll tin and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the meringue from the oven and allow to cool.
  6. Mix together the seeds from the passionfruit and the lemon curd in a bowl.
  7. Whip the double cream.
  8. Spread out a large piece of baking parchment (larger than the meringue) onto a work surface. Sprinkle the baking parchment with icing sugar.
  9. Tip the meringue out of the tin onto the baking parchment.
  10. Spread the lemon curd mixture onto the meringue. Then spread the whipped cream over the top.
  11. Carefully roll the meringue up from the short end – I did it from the long end, but I think it would look better from the short end.
  12. Transfer to a serving platter – as you can see, I didn’t really have a big enough serving platter! Don’t worry too much if the lemon curd seeps out a little.
  13. Serve fairly quickly.

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Crumble

Rhubarb crumble is one of my husband’s favourite desserts, and as rhubarb is in season for so much of the year, I’m happy to make it often.

A crumble topping is a useful recipe to know as it is easily adaptable. It has enjoyed a surge in popularity recently, as a topping for cupcakes and muffins, giving a good crunch and texture. The recipe itself is fairly adaptable too, by adding oats, substituting brown sugar for white, adding citrus zest or other spices.

Crumbles are good over rhubarb and apple, as the crunch gives a contrast to the soft fruit. I imagine summer fruits are excellent in crumbles too: peaches, nectarines, plums. Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries work well in combinations too.

The basic proportions for a crumble are as follows: 1 butter: 1 sugar: 2 flour. It is one of the few recipes where I tend to use imperial measurements, and for my dish, I used 3oz butter, 3oz sugar and 6oz flour.

The method is simple: rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Then stir in the sugar and sprinkle the crumble over the fruit. Bake for 35 minutes at 160C.

Serve with custard, cream or ice cream.

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