Saturday, October 10, 2009

Weekend Starts Here

Another set of recipes today - this time meringue. When we save egg whites (look on these as 'free') all we need is 2 oz (50g) caster sugar per egg white. Whip the white until peaked, then whisk in the sugar then spoon out dollops on a baking parchment lined tray and put in a hot oven immediately the heat has been turned off. If left overnight (or at least 8 hours) they should be bone dry the following morning and can then be stored in airtight containers. This 'drying' method rather than cooking, keep the meringues white, when cooked then tend to have a golden colour. I have just finished using the last of meringues made nearly two years ago.

Today's recipe is slightly more complicated in that the meringue is for a 'Pavlova' which is crispy on the outside but more like marshmallow in the centre, so will not store for any length of time in a tin, but will certainly freezel. Do not use the 'drying out' method, just follow the recipe. Do keep in mind that the whites used should come from medium eggs, if using larger eggs, there will be more volume of white so the sugar should be increased slightly. If you have no wine vinegar, then use the clear distilled vinegar, not the brown malt.
Again this is a basic recipe, but variations are also given, plus a variety of toppings. The cream filling can be frozen, but topping should be put on while the Pavlova is thawing.

Pavlova Meringue: serves 4 - 6 (F)
3 egg whites
6 oz (150g) caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp vanilla essence
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and on this draw a 7" (18cm) circle.
Whisk egg whites in a large grease-free bowl, and when stiff and peaked, add half the sugar, whisking it in until glossy (do not overbeat or the meringue will turn runny).
Mix together the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla essence to a smooth paste, and - using a metal spoon - fold this into the meringue with the rest of the sugar. NOTE this is called the 'folding in stage'.
Spoon meringue onto the centre of the circle and use a knife to spread out to fill the circle, but keeping it fairly rough on top. If you wish you can push more meringue to the sides to form a shallow case.
Cook at 140C, 275F, gas 1 for one hour, or until paper can be easily peeled away. Cool on a cake airer, removing paper when completely cold. The meringue will be fragile, and if breaks, when topped with cream, will hold together. It will break when cut anyway.
Spoon 5 fl oz (150ml) whipped double cream over the top of the Pavlova, then cover with chosen fresh fruits or berries. Serve at once.
To Freeze: open freeze cream-filled Pavlova (or just the Pavlova meringue) then pack carefully in a container, seal and use within 3 months.
To serve from Frozen: thaw cream filled Pavlova for 1 hour at room temperature before adding fruit. Top unfilled Pavlova with cream while till frozen, adding fruit, and continue to thaw at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

alternative Pavlova meringue:
Almond: Omit vanilla, and use a few drops of almond essence. Fold 2 oz (50g) ground almonds into the meringue mixture at the 'folding in stage'
Walnut: scatter 2 oz (50g) chopped walnuts, and 2 tsp demerara sugar over Pavlova before cooking.
Choc Chip: fold 2 oz (50g) chocolate chips into meringue at the folding in stage.
Orange: fold in grated zest of 1 large orange at folding in stage.
Rose: omit vanilla and add 1 tsp rose essence or rose water.

suggested toppings:
Banana: mash 1 ripe banana with 1 tblsp lemon juice, fold this into the whipped cream. Fill Pavlova with this after removing from the freezer, and top with sliced bananas, brushed with lemon juice.
Kiwi and Orange: As the cream filled Pavlova is thawing, arrange slices of Kiwi fruit and orange segments over the cream.
Raspberry: fold 8 oz (225g) raspberries into half a pint (300ml) Greek yogurt. Spoon into unfilled Pavlova. This goes extremely well with the rose flavoured meringue (very Posh Nosh). Do not freeze the Pavlova with the yogurt filling.

All type of fruit can cover the cream topped Pavlova, use fruits in season, or canned drained fruits. Even fill or top with scoops of ice-cream or sorbet, with or without fruit/cream.
Plan to make Pavlova when you have saved egg whites, this then means you will then be able to serve an impressive dessert for relatively low cost.
If you wish, make smaller - individual - Pavlovas, rather like the meringue 'nests' that we can buy. Each frozen and then brought out will thaw in about half an hour and can be filled a fruit yogurt and topped with seasonal fruits. A speedy dessert when time is short.