Passion Fruit & Fresh Berry Pavlova

February 13, 2022

Betcha ya’ll are already set as far as your Valentine Day desserts huh? Well just in case you’re still mulling it over, look what I surprised my Valentine with: Passion Fruit & Fresh Berry Pavlova: A meringue cookie topped with a dollop of whipped cream, a slick of tropical passion fruit curd (of course passionfruit! what other curd would be perfect for Valentine’s) and a handful of lovely fresh berries!

This dessert is a dream for anyone who loves food with texture. You’ve got the crispy crunch of the outer meringue, the pillowy chew of the marshmallow-like middle, the silky layer of fluffy whipped cream and passionfruit curd followed by the sweet tart addition of fresh berries. So elegant and absolutely delicious, these easily made treats are perfect for your Valentine’s day festivities.

The Husband, who conveniently also happens to be my Valentine, generally doesn’t like any chocolatey super sweet sugar bombs that seem to be all the rage for this holiday.  Which is totally unlike me. That is exactly what I would want. Truth be told…in a the shape of a cupcake if all were going my way. Just saying…He, on the other hand, prefers fruit forward desserts such as this lovely Cashew Crusted Blackberry & Lime Tart:

Or these Luscious Lemon Squares,

And then there was that Poached Pear Tart with Lemony Cream.

One year, I was even clever enough to combine what he loves, a good Gin & Tonic, and what I love, cupcakes by making  Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes:

And last year, I was pretty sly with these Mimosa Butter Sweetheart Cookies. I really like cookies and was able to not only add some of his favorite jam into the mix with these, but was also able to get some champagne on deck. Always up for a glass of bubbles!

And just recently I did share a recipe for Cranberry Chiffon Pie which would be perfect for Valentine’s Day given its’ flirty pink hue.

But let me get back to the dessert of the day: Passion Fruit & Fresh Berry Pavlova. This dessert is not as popular in the States as it is in Europe, much to my dismay. It seems that it hails from either Australia or New Zealand. No one is sure which country can claim it and has been a source of controversy between the two. It was named in the honor of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who toured the countries in the 1920s.

Pavlovas can be made in a 8 – 9″ cake size or as smaller individual serving sizes as I made here. I prefer the smaller sizes as you can keep the meringues in an airtight container and only pull them out to assemble right before you are ready to serve. They can not sit out for long though, so don’t assemble them until folks are ready to dig in.

The good news is that you can make the meringues the night before you need them and keep them under wraps until your fruit is sliced, the whipped cream is whipped and you are ready to assemble. One caveat – meringues do take a while to bake. With these you cook them at a low temperature for 3 hours and then turn the oven off and let the meringues just sit in there overnight. Then it is straight into an airtight container. But hey, Valentine’s Day isn’t until tomorrow. I bet you’ve got all the ingredients you need to whip these up today. Well, maybe not the passionfruit curd. But you could customize them to your own taste with a slick of your favorite curd or jam or leave that out altogether. They will still be scrumptious with just the luscious whipped cream and fruit. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Passion Fruit & Fresh Berry Pavlova

  • Servings: 8 individual pavlovas
  • Difficulty: easy
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recipe from: Pastry Love: A Baker’s Journal of Favorite Recipes by Joanne Chang

Ingredients:

  • 6 large egg whites (about 3/4 cup, 180 grams) at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) superfine sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, sifted after measuring
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240 grams) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar
  • Passion Fruit Curd, for topping
  • 2 pints (500 grams) fresh berries, the original recipe used raspberries. I used blackberries, strawberries & blueberries

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 175° F and place a rack ib the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside

In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed for about 1 minute. The whites will start to froth and turn into bubbles and eventually the yellowy viscous part will disappear. Keep whipping until you can see the wires of the whisk leaving a slight trail in the whites, 2 -3 minutes.

With the mixer still on medium, slowly add the superfine sugar in six to eight increments, whipping for about 20 seconds after each addition. ( It should take about 3 minutes to add all the sugar. When all the sugar has been incorporated into the egg whites, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute longer. The meringue should be fluffy and look a bit like shaving cream. Remove the bowl from the mixer and using a rubber spatula, fold in the cornstarch, salt and vanilla. The meringue batter will be gloppy and sticky-looking.

Using a 1/2 cup ice cream scoop or 1/2 cup dry measuring cup, scoop 8 mounds of meringue onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 3 inches apart. Use a large spoon to press a well into the center of each meringue mound, moving the spoon around in a circular motion to make a shallow depression in the meringue.

Bake for 3 hours, rotating the baking sheet a few times. Turn off the oven and let the meringues sit in the oven overnight.

The next day, remove the meringues from the oven and carefully peel them off the parchment. (At this point the meringues can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.)

When you are ready to serve, whip the cream and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl with a whisk until it is soft and billowing. Do not over-whip or the cream will get grainy. It should look similar to the meringue when it was fully whipped.

Place each meringue on an individual serving plate or all together on a large serving platter. Spoon about 2 Tablespoons of the whipped cream into the center of each meringue. Make a depression in the cream, then spoon about 2 heaping Tablespoons of the passion fruit curd on the top of the cream. Crush some of the fresh berries and keep some whole and scatter evenly on top of the curd.

Passion fruit pavlovas should be served within 1 hour or so of assembling. (Once filled, the meringues get really soft after a few hours.)

Enjoy!

Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Passion Fruit & Fresh Berry Pavlova:

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Pastry Love by Joanne Chang – LOVE this cookbook! Everything I have baked from it has been sensational! For this pavlova recipe, she actually gives you the recipe for homemade passion fruit curd. I sadly could not source any passionfruit, so turned to amazon to get a jar of it.

Tiptree Passion Fruit Curd


Banana & Nutella Fancy French Toast

February 5, 2022

Would you just look at this decadent breakfast dish! Sakes alive that looks yummy huh? What you got here is a smear of cream cheese and a dollop of Nutella along with a handful of bananas sandwiched between two slices of French Toast! Now you might be thinking “that had to be for a fancy occasion”, but nope not really. Well I might have had today in mind when I made this, but the day was any old Sunday and I just happened to have the ingredients on hand.

So I gotta ask….are there any Nutella fans out there? Cause let me tell you I love me some Nutella! I actually didn’t even know it existed until I was living in Ireland and my friend Theresa had a jar. I watched with amazement as she spread it over her toast. I was like “What! You can eat chocolate on toast!” I had no idea it was a thing. Yup, love at first bite. And putting two great tastes like Banana & Nutella together is a no brainer for sure.

It is not by chance that I’m blogging a recipe which features Nutella today. Today February 5th is World Nutella Day. This celebration of all things Nutella was started in 2007 by Sara at Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle at Bleeding Espresso as a day to celebrate, get creative with and most importantly, to EAT Nutella.

A couple of years ago, the founders have transferred Nutella Day to Ferrero the company who owns that most beloved spread. Take a peek at their Facebook page and see how folks are celebrating the day! I love Nutella so I usually try to participate with a Nutella laden recipe every year. One of my favorite Nutella creations was this Nutella, Double Chocolate & Banana Tart which was quite stunning if I do say so myself.

And since we’re talking about that winning Nutella and banana combination, just looks at these delicious Homemade Banana Toaster Tarts drizzled with Nutella

And how do you like this big ole Malted Nutella & Biscoff Brownie Torte 

Then there was this gorgeous Nutella Star Bread:

And some amazing Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka:

And I don’t want to forget these irresistible Salted Peanut Butter & Nutella Sandwich Cookies – sweet salty bliss I tell you!

But back to todays Banana & Nutella Fancy French Toast. Easy to make, it is remarkable how it transforms an average day into something fancy. So I say treat yourself to a fancy breakfast feast today. Make sure you pour some bubbles as well. Life is short and you’re worth it!

Banana & Nutella Fancy French Toast

  • Servings: 4 French Toast Sandwiches
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recipe slightly adapted from: Taste of Home

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices French bread (1/2 inch thick)
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup Nutella
  • 1 medium banana, sliced
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Optional toppings: Confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, fresh mint leaves, additional banana slices additional Nutella, whipped cream

Directions:

Begin by making sandwiches. On each of 4 of the bread slices, spread cream cheese and Nutella to within 1/2 in. of edges. Top with banana slices and remaining bread.

In a shallow bowl, whisk eggs, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

In a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet, heat butter over medium-low heat. Dip both sides of sandwiches in egg mixture, allowing each side to soak 30 seconds. Place soaked sandwiches in skillet; toast until golden brown, 4-5 minutes on each side. If desired, serve with toppings.

Enjoy!


Cranberry Chiffon Pie

February 1, 2022

My oh my…will you lookie here now at this show stopping Cranberry Chiffon Pie! How fancy! But this pie isn’t just all looks. No indeed, it delivers on taste as well.

The crunchy graham cracker crust is filled with a lighter than air combination of tart and silky cranberry curd and luscious sweet Swiss Meringue. It is topped with gorgeous little sugared cranberries. Just Stunning!

Today is February 1st. This particular day lies half way between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It is St. Brigid’s Day. Brigid is one of Ireland’s three patron saints along with St. Colmcille and St. Patrick. Beginning in 2023, Ireland will be marking her Feast Day with a new permanent Bank Holiday on the closest Monday to February 1st. Hooray! Who doesn’t like more holidays?!! According to Irish hagiography, Brigid was an early Christian nun & abbess who preformed many miracles. She also shares the name with an important Celtic goddess who is associated with the festival of Imbolc which was celebrated at this time as well, which suggests that the early church might have adopted the legends of the goddess and transformed them into the Christian persona. Interesting huh? I don’t know how many of you folks out there remembered to put a scarf out last night. You see on St. Brigid’s Eve you should always place a scarf or other piece of fabric outside.

When Brigid passes over the land that night she will bless it. You then can fetch it back inside the next day and thanks to Brigid, it has the power to protect and heal headaches, sore throats and fevers throughout the coming year! What with all the Covid still rampaging around, I wasn’t going to take any chances. My little scarf was frozen solid this morning, but is happily thawing away now, freshly imbued with healing powers. As I mentioned, today marks the festival of Imbolc as well as Candlemas, both of which are associated with fertility, fire, purification and weather divination. And speaking of weather divination, tomorrow my favourite varmint, Punxsutawney Phil, will be stepping out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob and letting everyone know if there will be 6 more weeks of winter or if instead Spring is on the way.

One extraordinary rodent!

I don’t know if good ole Phil will see his shadow tomorrow or not. If he predicts more winter, I am, of course, fine with that. But even if he says Spring is coming, I feel like I’ve at least gotten a taste of winter. So this is quite an auspicious time of year! I’m very happy to be marking another event today as well. February 1st just happens to be the 11th year anniversary of  the my cooking blog! Yup… Eleven years ago today I posted my first recipe. It was for Cream Tea Scones with Currants.

I’ve managed to do an anniversary post nearly every year since. Pretty impressive considering how slack I can be! Last year I shared the rich & creamy Ground Beef Chili with Chocolate & Peanut Butter. Get. out!

And the year before, I posted about these scrumptious Morning Buns!

One of my favorite recipes that I shared with you on an anniversary was: Model Bakery’s English Muffins:

Then there were those decadent  Banana Rum Muffins:

That jaw-dropping, over the top Crack Pie:

And who can forget that magical “caviar of the South” – Pasture’s Pimento Cheese. Keep this one in mind for the Super Bowl!

But let me get back to telling you about this Cranberry Chiffon Pie. I originally made this for Thanksgiving and it was indeed a hit. Of course it would also go great with a Christmas feast. But you know, I was thinking with it’s flirty pink hue it might also be great for Valentines Day, which is right around the corner.

That being said, I will warn you that this pie is a bit of a time commitment. I would recommend planning ahead and making it in stages. The crust one day. The curd the next and then maybe do final assembly on the third day. And you might want to make sure your dishwasher has been unloaded before you start. Man did I dirty of few dishes to make this little devil! But hey, this pie is so unique and delicious it was worth it! I would totally do it again.

Make sure you allow at least four hours for that filling to set up. It would be better if you could let it sit in the fridge overnight. You want to make sure it can hold that dainty light and airy texture. And don’t forget to add a lovely dollop of whipped cream.

Believe me, folks will be thrilled with its sweet & tart flavor and light silky creamy texture. Bet you won’t just be making it once!

Cranberry Chiffon Pie

  • Servings: one 9
  • Difficulty: moderate - it is challenging to strain the cranberries & there are a lot of steps
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recipe from: King Arthur Baking Company

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups (149g) graham cracker crumbs*
  • 1/4 cup (28g) confectioners’ sugar or glazing sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) butter, melted

*About 11 whole graham crackers will yield this amount of crumbs.

For the curd:

  • 12 ounces (340 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries, a scant 3 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup (198 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) orange juice, cranberry juice, or water
  • zest (grated rind) of 1 orange, optional
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks, whites reserved for the meringue
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) water, hot
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (A typical packet of powdered gelatin is a generous 2 teaspoons, so you’ll need less than a packet. Be sure to measure out 1 ½ teaspoons carefully; too much gelatin and the pie’s filling will be “bouncy.”)

For the Meringue:

  • 3/4 cup (149 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg whites, reserved from above
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Topping:

  • 1/2 to 1 cup (113 grams to 227 grams) heavy cream
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons (7 grams to 14 grams) confectioners’ sugar, optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F

To make the crust: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the crumbs, sugar, and butter.

Press the mixture into the bottom and partway up the sides of a 9″ springform pan, 9″ cheesecake pan, or 9″ deep-dish pie pan.

If you’re using a 9″ by 1 1/2″ pan, you’ll have 1/4 to 1/2 cup of extra crumb mixture. This can become a garnish for the pie, if you like.

To prebake the crust: Place it in a preheated 375°F oven for 15 minutes, just until set and you smell the cookies toasting. Remove the crust from the oven, cool on a rack.

To make the curd: In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, juice or water, and zest. Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring the berries to a simmer. Cook until all the berries have burst and softened, about 10 minutes total.

Remove the pan from the heat and pass the cooked cranberries through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl or measuring cup. Be sure to press the solids to extract as much of the smooth sauce as possible; you should be left with about 1 1/2 cups (400 grams to 425 grams) of sauce. (Pushing those cranberries through the strainer actually be much easier if you give the cooked cranberries a few pulses with an immersion blender before trying to strain them.)

Stir the butter into the warm sauce until it’s melted completely.

Clean and dry the saucepan, then add the eggs and egg yolks to it. Slowly pour the cranberry sauce back into the saucepan with the eggs, whisking to incorporate.

Return the pan to medium-low heat and cook the curd, stirring constantly, until it’s thick enough that the lines made by your spoon or spatula as you stir take a second or two to disappear.

Remove the curd from the heat and pour it into a heat-safe bowl or measuring cup. If you see any small bits of cooked egg, pass the curd through a fine-mesh strainer to remove them.

 In a small bowl, combine the hot water and gelatin. Add a spoonful or two of the hot curd to the gelatin, stirring to incorporate, then stir the gelatin mixture back into the curd, mixing thoroughly. Set aside while you prepare the meringue.

To make the meringue: In a large heatproof bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together (briefly) the sugar, egg whites, and salt.

Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (you should just barely see some lazy bubbles coming up) and whisk gently and continuously until the mixture reads 160°F to 165°F on a digital thermometer.

Remove the bowl from the heat and beat the meringue with a whisk or your stand mixer’s whisk attachment until stiff.

Fold about a quarter of the meringue into the curd to lighten it, then fold the curd back into the meringue, mixing gently until no white streaks remain.

Pour the filling into the cooled crust and refrigerate the pie (covered with a cake cover or large overturned bowl) until set, at least 4 hours or overnight.

To make the topping: Whip the cream and confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form.

Spread the whipped cream on top of the pie or serve it in a bowl alongside. Garnish with sugared cranberries, if desired (recipe below).

Storage instructions: Store the pie, covered with a cake cover or large overturned bowl, in the refrigerator for up to five days.

To make sugared cranberries: Combine 3/4 cup (149 grams) granulated sugar with 1/2 cup (113 grams) water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, cooking until the sugar dissolves. Add 1/2 cup (50 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries stir around quickly. Remove from the heat and, with a slotted spoon, take the cranberries out of the syrup and roll them in superfine (Baker’s Special) or granulated sugar until coated. Place on a rack to dry before using to garnish your pie.

Enjoy!

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Cranberry Chiffon Pie:

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Set of 3, Fine Mesh Strainers

Vitamix Immersion Blender

Lavatools Javelin Pro Instant Read Thermometer


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