Strawberry-Chocolate Pavlova

I wanted to make this Pavlova since I discovered it last year on a French website. This is the second item to cross off my 2013 (baking) To Do List . The first item was Bourke Street Bakery croissants, which were a-m-a-z-i-n-g, but I still didn’t find time to post about them (that’s still coming).

The original recipe actually calls for raspberries and dark chocolate. I changed the quantity of some ingredients and also used what I had in the house, which were some sweet Michigan strawberries and milk chocolate. I didn’t regret it because it was a huge hit with my family, so I am perfectly happy. 🙂 This is such a great summer dessert! I hope you will be making it soon. Happy SUMMER!

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Strawberry-Chocolate Pavlova

{printable recipe}

(Serves about 10 people)

Pavlova:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 235 g (8.2 oz) powdered sugar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon cornstarch
  • 35 g (1.2 oz) of grated chocolate

Filling:

  • 175 g (6 oz) chocolate (melted)
  • 450 ml (about 2 cups) heavy cream whipped thick (add sugar after your own taste)
  • 450 g (1 lb) strawberries (raspberries  or blackberries)

1. Draw 3 rectangles of 10 X 30 cm (4 X 12 inches) on sheets of parchment paper and place on two baking sheets. In a bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, then gradually add half of sugar while beating . The mixture should be very firm and look shine.

2. Using a spoon or spatula, gently fold in the remaining sugar, cornstarch and grated chocolate.

3. Place the prepared meringue into a piping bag fitted with a 1 cm star tip. Fill the rectangles drawn by drawing lines with the meringue. Bake in preheated oven at 100° C (about 200 F) for 1 hour. Without opening the door, turn off the oven and leave the meringues cool inside. Then take off from the paper.

4. To make the filling, melt the chocolate and spread it over two meringues. Allow to harden.

5. Place one of two chocolate meringues on a plate and cover with about 1/3 of the whipped cream and strawberries. Gently place the second meringue chocolate on top and cover with half the cream and the remaining strawberries.

6. Finally, place the last meringue on top and decorate with the remaining cream and strawberries. Drizzle melted chocolate over the top and serve.

Pavlova preparation

Meringue for Pavlova

Meringue for Pavlova

Pavlova-putting together

Strawberry Pavlova

Strawberry Chocolate Pavlova

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Red Currant Meringue Pie (Tom and Jerry would be proud)

I have finally decided to give it a try and make a pie. As you may have read in my previous posts, pies are not my specialty… I didn’t grow up in the United States and my grandma didn’t bake pies, so I never learned how to make them. The first time I saw a pie was in a Tom and Jerry cartoon when I was a kid. I wasn’t sure what it was, I knew it was some kind of desert that you can throw in a person’s face! 😀

The first time I ever tried a pie was when I came to live in the United States. Since then, I’ve made many deserts, but never a good old, classic pie. It took me quite some time to work up the courage to make one and here it is:

Red Currant Meringue Pie

[Printable recipe]

Crust:

  • 1 ½ cup (200 g) flour
  • 1 stick (115 g) butter
  • 2/3 cup (80 g) powdered sugar
  • 0.7 oz (20 g) ground almonds
  • 1 egg yolk
  • A pinch of salt

+  wax or parchment paper (to fit the bottom of the pie dish), dry beans or chick peas

Pie Filling:

  • 10 oz (285 g) red currants
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup (100 g) powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Meringue:

  • 3 egg whites (weighed)
  • Sugar (double weight of the egg withes weight)*

* 1 measure of egg whites = 2 measures of sugar

Preparation:

  1. For the crust combine flour, powder sugar, ground almonds and a pinch of salt. Add sliced butter and work it into flour, add the egg yolk. Mix and knead until well combined. Form a dough ball, wrap in plastic and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare a pie dish, grease it well with butter. Heat the oven to  355 F (180 C).
  3. On a floured surface roll out the dough in a circle to fit the pie dish. With the help of the rolling pin transfer the dough from the working surface to the dish, poke the bottom few times with a fork, trim the dough evenly and crimp the edges.
  4. Place the wax paper on the bottom, place the dry chick peas on the top of it. Bake for about 10-12 minutes (don’t let it brown).
  5. Remove the pie crust from the oven, cool for just a few minutes, then remove chick peas and the wax paper.
  6. Place the washed red currants on the top of the crust.
  7. In a bowl mix together eggs, powder sugar, heavy cream and corn starch until smooth. Pour over red currants and bake for another 20-25 minutes until pie sets. If desired place a ring of aluminum foil over the edges of the pie to prevent burning.
  8. While the pie is baking, weigh the egg whites. Your sugar amount will depend on the weight of the egg whites (egg whites 1 measure = sugar 2 measures).
  9. Prepare the meringue: combine egg whites and sugar and mix together until combined using a whisk. Heat it lightly over a hot water dish (bain marie) about 3 minutes mixing constantly. Don’t let the water boil. Transfer the mixture into a mixer bowl and mix on high speed for about 10 minutes or until mixture becomes very shiny and firm.
  10. Place the meringue in a cake frosting bag and decorate the pie top. Place in the oven to 250 F (120 C) for 5 minutes and then lower to 200 F (95 C)  for another 10 minutes until nice crust forms.
  11. Cool completely and enjoy!

Bon Appetite!

Non Plus Ultra

I first learned about Non Plus Ultra cookies when I was a teenager. I was totally intrigued by the name and had to find out what it meant. I made sure to write down the recipe in my own recipe book that I started back then and I still keep it as a precious treasure. This little recipe book connects me with past times when life in Bosnia was peaceful and probably much better and safer than today. It connects me with my mom who encouraged me to start collecting recipes and taught me how to bake.

Turning the pages of my old recipe book today, I stumbled across the Non Plus Ultra cookies recipe and just had to make them. With a good reason they have been named Non Plus Ultra, which in Latin means: Nothing further beyond; The ultimate; Perfection. Looking at the list of ingredients one would not think that something special could come out of it, but somehow all the ingredients come together in a perfect harmony and make this cookie a one-bite, crispy, melt-in-your-mouth perfection.

Non Plus Ultra cookies              Printable recipe

Ingredients:

  • 280 g (2 ¼ cups) all-purpose flour
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 1 pack of vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 250 g (1 1/10 cup) butter at room temperature
  • 3 eggs (divided)
  • 200 g (1 cup) sugar
  • Apricot jam


Preparation:

1. For the cookie dough combine flour, sugar and vanilla, add butter, egg yolks and mix until compact and smooth-looking. Cover with plastic foil and chill for about 30 minutes.

2. In a bowl mix egg whites and sugar just until combined. Place the bowl on a dish with boiling water and lightly heat it until all sugar dissolves.

3. Transfer the mixture into a bowl of a stand mixer and beat it on high for about 10 minutes or until firm peaks form. Set aside and cover.

4. Take the cookie dough out of the fridge and roll it out 4-5 mm thick and cut out small, round cookies. Place them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.

5. Fill the meringue mixture in a decorating bag and squeeze a bit of it on each cookie.

6. Preheat the oven to 150 C (300 F), place the cookie sheet in and turn it down to 120 C (250 F). After 12 minutes lower it to 85 C (185 F) and bake for 10-12 minutes more. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

7. Put two cookies together in a sandwich with a small amount of apricot jam and voila! You have your Non Plus Ultra cookies – a true perfection!

Bon Appétit!