Happy long weekend! All Canadians out there, do you have any plans for Victoria Day? I am staying in the city to work, but am looking forward to a long bike ride this evening and to a seawall picnic with some friends tomorrow afternoon. Oh, and it’s our birthday on Sunday! Let’s hope for some sunshine :)
After work today I had some fun browsing the web (with a kitten cuddling on my lap). Here are some lovely things I had to share:– A song to kick off your long weekend – A stunt some kids pulled. I laughed out loud. (Would you try this? I wouldn’t dare!) – The perfect romper for summer bike rides – uplifting stationary to keep you inspired
I’m curious, do you have a favourite dessert? When I asked some of my friends the same question, most of them had something delectable in mind. I can’t pick, although I do love homemade pie baked with freshly picked summer berries or a perfectly layered nanaimo bar. Are you like me, ambivalent beyond reason, or can you pick your favourite?
Last weekend a girlfriend and I were on board to make a going away party cake for a friend. Before diving on in, we asked our friend if he had any special requests for his cake. Sure enough he told us he would love his favourite dessert, pavlova! I was so surprised, since pavlova is not your ordinary cake. Also, it seemed a bit finicky for a large group! How do you cut and serve a meringue anyways?
We decided to attempt pavlova after all, with a little tweaking of the recipe: We took an ordinary pavlova recipe, died the meringue fun colours and dolopped it into little individual sized nests, perfect for serving a big group. The final products looked so cheerful, especially with spoonfuls of vanilla custard and ruby red strawberries nestled inside. To me, the dessert seemed extremely reminiscent of Easter, but definitely made for a perfect pavlova fan’s going away party dessert.
yield: 1 dozen nests or 1 pavlova time: 2 hours bake: 350 degrees F, then 250 degrees F
Pavlova Ingredients 4 large eggs, separated 1 cup of white sugar 2 tsp corn starch, sifted 1 tsp white vinegar 1/2 tsp vanilla extract food colouring
Directions1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment paper or grease with butter. 2. Separate eggs, saving the egg yolks and add egg whites into a stand up mixer. Fit the mixer with a whisk attachment and beat until frothy (about 2 mins). Continue beating until egg whites for stiff but not dry peaks. Gradually add 1 cup of sugar while whisking, then increase speed and whisk until stiff and glossy, 3-5 mins. Sprinkle 2 tsp cornstarch, vinegar and 1/2 tsp vanilla over egg whites and gently whisk in on low speed only until blended. 3. Divide meringue into four bowls. Dye the four bowls your desired colours (we used yellow, purple, blue and pink). Gently stir in. Don’t add too much colour and don’t over mix! 4. Dollop the meringue onto prepared cookie sheets in little circles. With a spoon, make an indent in the centre of each circle so it forms a “nest.” Repeat with all meringues. 5. Reduce temperature of oven to 250 degrees and bake meringues for 1 hour. Turn off oven and leave meringues inside oven until completely cool (about 30 minutes). Carefully remove meringues from cookie sheets with a flipper and place them on a cooling wrack over night. 6. While meringue is cooking, prepare custard. *Note: If you’d prefer to make a single pavlova cake, simple skip steps 3-4 and pile meringue onto prepared cookie sheet (buttered or lined with parchment paper). Bake for same amount of time and cool in oven as well.
Custard Ingredients 1 cup milk 1 cup cream 1 tbsp cornstarch 1/3 cup sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 1/2 cup cream 1 cup strawberries 1 cup blueberries
Custard Directions:1. Combine milk and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Add vanilla to milk mixture. Cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes until hot but not boiling. Remove saucepan from heat. 2. In another bowl, whisk egg yolks, 1 tbsp cornstarch and 1/3 cup sugar in a mixing bowl until combined. 3. Slowly add yolk mixture to milk mixture, adding 1/3 cup at a time, whisking constantly. 4. Return saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly (you don’t want any lumps!) for 15-20 minutes or so until custard thickens. Do not allow custard to boil! 5. Pour thickened custard into an airtight container and cool overnight.
Assembly:1. Place nests on your serving tray. Add a spoonful of custard to the centre of each nest and top with 1/2 a washed and cleaned strawberry. 2. Sprinkle a handful of blueberries in an amongst the pavlova nests. They will look undeniable to any passer by!
These bite sized desserts were a huge hit at the party! It seemed like people were drawn to them. They looked so tempting in their meringuey, fruity simplicity. I found that the vanilla custard was a lovely creamy contrast to the light, slightly chewy texture of the pav. Of course the juicy strawberry on top was a gorgeous touch as well!
If you’re looking for a light, summery dessert to serve at an upcoming party or dinner this recipe is a huge hit! It was also fun making the pavlova, a recipe I haven’t tried in years. I can’t think of a more suitable dessert as well for the upcoming strawberry season (June!). Can’t you imagine yourself lounging on a picnic blanket spread out under a big tree nibbling on one of these?
Fun Fact: Did you know that Pavlova is New Zealand’s national dessert and that it was named after a famous ballerina, Anna Pavlova? Wow, to have a dessert named after you!
I hope you have a lovely week full of fresh fruit and samplings of a few of your favourite things (what are they? I’m curious!)