Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova

Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova chewy, brownie inner to a crisp chocolate meringue, topped with softly whipped Cream and ruby red raspberries.

 

Hello, I’m writing this blog with fond memories of our week spent in the heart of Devon during half term – this Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova was made, at the barn, with minimal equipment and only my memory for the recipe! I’d call that a challenge!!

FF Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova
Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova made again at home.

Physically it was a bit of a struggle for me, but that was more than compensated by the time we spent as a family: hanging out together, all 5 of us on a trampoline ( trust me I wasn’t jumping !!!!) that I thought was going to collapse at any second, being rowed around the pond, discovering semi-wild farm cats and their kittens in the hay barn – sooo cute, spending time with our Devon Families, both in church and on the farm.  But most of all being together Feasting and Having Fun!!!!!

FF Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova
Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova perfect for dessert or afternoon tea.

Firstly I have to give complete credit to Nigella for inspiring this scrumptious Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova.

Whilst staying in our gorgeous Barn in the middle of nowhere Pip had invited us to share a meal with her and her wonderful hubby Sailor Man and their daughter Leggy Lou!

Pip would be cooking Lasagne and I offered to do pudding!!

We’ve been staying on the same farm, in the same barn at least 10 years, I was pretty confident, given the restricted equipment available in the barn, that  I could ‘easily’ whip up a Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova!!

This is one of those puds that not only has the WOW factor visually but tastes even better than it looks. So simple to do then??

FF Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova
Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova a delicious combination of flavours.

Whilst out shopping I remembered ALL the ingredients (I may have made this a few dozen times before!!!) but couldn’t remember the quantities!!

Back at the farm, in a rare moment of actually being able to get a signal, I successfully popped onto Nigella’s website  and got the recipe.  Fortunately I had not forgotten anything – boy was I relieved!!

Recipe:  Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova,

You will need a good sized baking sheet that can take a 30cm diameter circle of meringue, lined with parchment paper.

Recipe: Rapsberry Chocolate Pavlova

6  Egg whites. (Pref free range) at room temp

300g  Caster Sugar

3 tbsp Cocoa Powder (not drinking chocolate!!)

1 tsp Balsamic vinegar (your just gonna have to trust me on this one???!!)

50g  Chopped Dark (70%) Chocolate + an extra 25g Dark (70%) Chocolate chopped very fine, for sprinkling over before serving

450ml Double Cream

300g – 500g Raspberries – Fresh if poss, but I’ve used decent thawed frozen ones in the midst of winter and it worked!

Method:  Preheat the your oven to 200C/180C fan (350F, gas mark 4).

Firstly if you have any kind of electric whisk PLEASE use it!! You can see from the photo below that I did not have one and it was VERY HARD WORK!!!

Oh yes - I whisked 6 egg whites using a rotary whisk!!! Gone are the bingo wings!!!!
Oh yes – I whisked 6 egg whites using a rotary whisk!!! Gone are the bingo wings!!!

Once the egg whites form satin peaks slowly add the  caster sugar and keep whisking (oh the joy, what was already a hard job became much more difficult as the sugar mixed into the whites) the mixture will become much thicker.

Once all the sugar is fully incorporated whisk until the meringue mixture is glossy, satiny and holds a stiff peak!

Next add the sieved cocoa, chopped chocolate and balsamic vinegar (stay with my guys it’s really worth it in the end!!!)

I'm not a big sifter?(I am a big sister!!!!!), but cocoa really does need a god old sift to remove any lumps!!
I’m not a big sifter?(I am a big sister!!!!!), but cocoa really does need a god old sift to remove any lumps!!

Using a metal spoon gently fold in the chocolate, cocoa and balsamic vinegar until the ingredients are fully combined. This was challenging for me, as you can see from the photos I’d used a straight sided, flat bottomed casserole dish as a mixing bowl!!!!

Still I’m nothing if not adaptable!

When at home I draw round a 12″ (30cm) round cake tin, with pencil, onto parchment paper. On holiday I had to ‘guesstimate’!

Flip the paper over, so that the pencil marking is on the underside. At this point, you can attach the parchment to the baking sheet with little dobs of meringue mixture. This acts like glue and stops the paper moving around.

Using the drawn circle as a guide, gently pile on the meringue mixture into the centre using a metal spoon. Then using a palette knife (or butter knife if on hols!!!) gently spread the mixture into an even circle shape approx 30cm across.

I’ve found it helps the cooked Pavlova not to crack if you build the sides up slightly so the centre is approx 1-2cm lower than the edge. It doesn’t matter if it does crack as later on you will be smothering it in whipped cream and raspberries! Using your knife smooth out the centre and create swirls around the outside of the Pavlova – let your creative, fun side run free!! It’s soo much fun and you can swirl to your hearts content!

The lighting was beautiful in the barn and it makes the Pavlova look sooo pretty x
The lighting was beautiful in the barn and it makes the Pavlova look sooo pretty x

Place the beautiful Pavlova on the middle shelf of the preheated oven (180C – 350F or gas mark 4), immediately turn the oven temperature down to 150C (300F gas mark  2) and bake for  1, 1/4 – 1, 1/2 hours.

If you are confident about the eggs you have used, gather the children around the bowl and let them lick the bowl clean – making sure you’ve had a little taste first. It’s GORGEOUS!!  I think it tastes like the lightest chocolate mousse.  You are eating raw egg so please do not taste if you are pregnant, unwell or elderly – I also wouldn’t  have let my children taste it when they were very young.  Our youngest is 12 now so he was allowed to try some!

The Pavlova is cooked when the outside looks lovely and crisp and you can see the dark, fudgey inside through the natural small cracks in the surface.

Turn the oven off and leave to cool completely in the oven.

Once the Pavlova is completely cool remove from the oven and peel off the Parchment paper (I’ve never yet had one stick using Parchment, if you use greaseproof paper I can’t guarantee it will peel off as easily).

Place the Pavlova on a flat cake stand, cake board or metal tray if that’s all you have to hand!!

Whip the cream until thickened but still floppy (adding a teaspoon of caster sugar if you prefer to sweeten the cream) and smother the top of the Pavlova with it leaving a cream free edge.

Just waiting to be adorned.
Just waiting to be adorned.

Tumble (or carefully place it’s your choice!) the raspberries over the cream topped Pavlova.

Now finally sprinkle over the remaining 25g (about a tablespoon) of finely chopped dark chocolate.

 

Soo beautiful, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating!!!
Soo beautiful,Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova. the proof of the pudding is in the eating!!!

We shared this with our dinner hosts who were extremely complimentary about the combination of flavours, but mostly the hidden, almost brownie like middle of the Pavlova. The contrast between the crunchy outer layer, the sublime tartness of raspberry enveloped in velvety whipped cream and then the surprise, almost fudgey centre with nubs of chocolate work to create a TASTE SENSATION! Thank you Nigella for inspiring this recipe.

FF Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova
Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova the perfect sweet treat to take to take to someone’s house.

 

The perfect dessert for Sharing, Feasting and Having Fun!

Sammie x

 

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Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes!!

Well a very good day to you. The storm has finally cleared the UK and I sincerely hope you survived it unscathed?  If you are sleep deprived, due to the banging, blowing and crashing howls of wind a Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes may be just what you need to help you get through the day with a smile!

Fudgey, chocolate icing with hearts, stars and gold dragee balls!
Fudgey, chocolate icing with hearts, stars and gold dragee balls!

Nature’s beauty can be mesmerisingly beautiful, but we should never underestimate it’s force or ruthlessness and ability to deprive us all of a good nights sleep!

CUPCAKES!!!!!
I’ve posted lots of pics, now I give you the recipe:

Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes (makes 18)

You will need:

2 x 12 Deep Muffin Tins (not shallow fairy cake tins)

18 Cupcake liners (I’ve used brown ‘tulip’ liners – plain white ones look good with chocolate, but the choice is yours!)

Recipe : Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes – makes 18

10oz Unsalted Butter (at room temp)

10oz Dark Brown Muscavado Sugar

2tsp Vanilla Extract

Pinch of Salt (I use Kosher)

5 Large Eggs (Pref Free Range – at room temp)

3oz Cocoa Powder (NOT hot chocolate powder)

7oz Self Raising White Flour

3-4tbsp Whole Milk (at room temp)

6oz Milk Chocolate Chunks or Chips

Large bowl & an electric whisk (it really makes creaming the sugar & butter bearable!!!!)

Method :

PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 175C (160C Fan Oven).

Line the muffin tins with 18 cupcake cases.

Pretty tulip cases, worth the extra effort!!!
Pretty tulip cases, worth the extra effort!!!

Firstly place the butter and treacly dark sugar into a large bowl (of stand mixer, if using, with the paddle mixer attached).

No lumps here!!!!!
No lumps here!!!!!

Unless you are ready for a serious workout I really recommend using an electric whisk to beat the sugar/butter mixture. It will take a while (approx 5-10 mins) for the mixture to become smooth and fluffy.

Next add the punch of salt& vanilla extract and beat the whole mixture until thoroughly combined.

Now if you want to switch to a wooden spoon for mixing you can. Using an electric whisk/beater is also ok, just make sure you don’t over mix once the flour is added, otherwise you won’t have light, cupcakes.

Add 2 of the eggs (I always crack them into a separate bowl first, no one wants crunchy cupcakes!!!) and a third of the cocoa/flour (sifted). Gently mix until almost incorporated.

Repeat this process again.

Callebaut milk chocolate chunks take this cupcake to another level of scrumptiousness!!!!!!!
Callebaut milk chocolate chunks take this cupcake to another level of scrumptiousness!!!!!!!

Now add the last egg and mix gently. Then add the last of the flour/cocoa & the chocolate chunks/chips. Fold these ingredients in gently adding 1 tablespoon at a time to loosen the mixture and allow all the ingredients to mix thoroughly and have a slightly wet dropping consistency.

The cake batter should look like this, ready to scoop!!
The cake batter should look like this, ready to scoop!!

I use an ice cream scoop to evenly fill the cupcake cases. But you could always use 2 desert spoons. Just ensure an equal amount of mixture is placed into each case. This ensures that all the cupcakes will be cooked evenly & in the same amount of time.

Using an ice cream scoop to portion the cupcake batter.
Using an ice cream scoop to portion the cupcake batter.
Centre the scoop above the cake liner.
Centre the scoop above the cake liner.
Squeeze the scoop & release the batter into the case!!!
Squeeze the scoop & release the batter into the case!!!

Cook for approx 20 minutes. The cupcakes are cooked when lightly pressed in the middle and the cake springs back.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 5-10 mins until cool enough to transfer to a cooling rack.
NOTE: if using the tulip style cupcake cases, I’ve found it best to leave the cupcakes to COMPLETELY COOL IN THE TIN. The paper cases will then adhere to the cupcakes when removed from the tin.

I left these cupcakes to cool completely in the tin.
I left these cupcakes to cool completely in the tin.

These chocolate chunk cupcakes are then perfect to serve unadorned!

However if making for a special occasion or just because, you can ice or top them with whatever you like!!

I’ve used Betty Crocker’s Chocolate Fudge Icing (which I’ve found is easier to apply using 2 teaspoons, rather than piping, when using the tulip cupcake wrappers. I’ve then sprinkled a variety of gold sugar balls, white chocolate stars, glitter, even rice paper figurines.

Fudgey, chocolate icing with hearts, stars and gold dragee balls!
Fudgey, chocolate icing with hearts, stars and gold dragee balls!

Melted chocolate drizzled over the top, or half double cream/half chocolate melted together in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water), creates a chocolate ganache. If using ordinary (not tulip) cases the cupcakes can then be dipped into the ganache, covering the entire surface of the cupcake. This will then cool to a soft, fudgey consistency, whereas melted chocolate on its own will harden on cooling.

Ganache dipped cupcakes with a sparkly addition of gold dragee balls.
Ganache dipped cupcakes with a sparkly addition of gold dragee balls.

You can then sprinkle & adorn to your hearts content. Although left without the sprinkles these cupcakes still look gorgeous & scrummy.

Now it’s time to share!!

I invested in some individual clear, plastic cupcake holders, which not only allow the cupcakes to be transported easily but also allow the recipient to clearly see their gift. I have also popped the cupcakes into cellophane bags tied with rafia. This also looks beautiful, but is more fiddly & you have to be careful not to get any of the icing on the inside of the bag, as it spoils the look.

If you want to make someone smile, or you know someone who needs cheering up, this recipe is FOOLPROOF.

When I give a gift, especially one I’ve made, I’m NOT looking to be basked in thanks & glory for what I’ve given. I want the recipient to feel special. To know that they’ve been thought of & know that they are special to me.

I’ve received gifts that are more about the giver than the recipient & although I’m always thankful, somehow, if the giver is looking to be showered with praise, the gift feels soulless.

In my world GIFTS SHOULD ALWAYS BE ABOUT THE RECIPIENT NOT THE GIVER.

Don’t get me wrong a thank you is nice, but other than that I’m not seeking praise. I really try to think of who I am giving to & what their likes & preferences are. In doing this I must disregard what I want and focus on others.

Some people like a big fuss & that’s fine. They like attention & they enjoy being the centre of it. So when giving them a gift I know they don’t mind if it’s in a roomful of people. They enjoy celebrating in a big way.

Others are quieter. They would be mortified at the notion of being centre of attention. That is fine too. So the gift will be given quietly, without pomp & circumstance. Because it’s not about the giver but the recipient.

If you’ve taken the time, love & care to make something for someone, give equal thought to how you will give it to them.

Nobody, especially me, gets it right all the time! But we can all try, me included.

A well meant gift, given in a thoughtful way says you care.

Have fun trying the cupcakes. If you want to make fewer a rough guide is 1 egg/2oz butter/1 1/2oz self raising white flour/1/2oz cocoa powder.

I’d love to hear how you get on, so please leave a comment?

In the mean time have lots of fun, feasting and sharing!!

Sammie x

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Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies!!!

If you like chocolate cookies & love the taste of Mars Bars – you will totally flip out over these Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies!!
I could keep you in suspense no longer.

Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies
Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies

I may have mentioned my particular preference for a cookie with my cuppa? This combined with my natural curiosity led to these Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies being made.
But, if I’m going to completely truthful, I had an ulterior motive for making them!! More on that later.

Soooo Delicious
Soooo Delicious

I do apologise I have not yet said hello & good morning to you. I hope you are well today & encourage you to read yesterday’s blog: more food for the soul, than for our tummies & definitely way more important. I hope it makes you think, question, wonder & seek.
Today the rain is lashing down, giving the gardens a well needed dousing. Tomorrow the sun is supposed to shine, YAY! Sunshine always seems to make people seem brighter & happier – listen to me! English & talking about the weather – I’m a stereotype!!!!
I promised you my reason for the ulterior motive behind these cookie. Well…… I also made PEANUT BUTTER SNICKERS COOKIES which I absolutely lurve – I will post that recipe soon!
Making the Chocolate  Mars Bar Cookies keeps my lil kiddly winks away from the Snickers Cookies! They prefer chocolate Cookies over any other!!!
I know, I know I go on about sharing & I do. I really do! I shared the Snickers Cookies with my special QC friend!

Recipe : CHOCOLATE MARS BAR COOKIES – makes approx 28-32

You will need 2 x Baking Sheets (lined with parchment paper, even if non stick)

5oz  Dark Brown Sugar (light brown is fine if that’s what you have to hand)

8oz  Unsalted Butter – room temp

1/4  tsp Salt

1  Large Egg Yolk (pref Free Range)

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

3oz  Cocoa Powder

7oz  Plain White Flour

3-4  Mars Bars – chopped

Method :

Preheat the oven to 180C (165C fan)

The gorgeous dark brown sugar gives these cookies a fudgier flavour!!!!!!
The gorgeous dark brown sugar gives these cookies a fudgier flavour!!!!!!

Place the sugar, butter & salt into a bowl. Whisk or beat until light & fluffy.
Add in the egg yolk & Vanilla Extract. Whisk or beat until fully incorporated into the butter/sugar mixture.

Naughty - I didn't sift my flour/cocoa - whoops!!!!
Naughty – I didn’t sift my flour/cocoa – whoops!!!!

Next add the flour & cocoa ( you can sift them in if you prefer) & the chopped Mars Bars (don’t try to sift them – just trying to be helpful!!!!).
Slowly mix until all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated together – it is inevitable that during this time the chunks of Mars Bar break up a bit, DON’T WORRY!!! This just adds to the gooey texture of the cookies!

Gooey, chocolatey, cookie dough!!!!!
Gooey, chocolatey, cookie dough!!!!!

Take a desert spoonful of the mixture and roll into a ball using your hands. The ball should be approx 1″ across, add or take away cookie dough to get the right size.

Cookie dough balls, ready to be lightly squished!!!
Cookie dough balls, ready to be lightly squished!!!

Make 16 balls, as above & place 8 on each cookie sheet, evenly spaced as they will spread on baking.
With clean hands use your fingers to gently flatten each ball.
Place in the preheated oven & cook for 10-13 mins (depending on size of cookies & oven).

Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies!!!!
Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies!!!!

WITH THE REMAINING COOKIE DOUGH: Place onto a long piece of cling film, gently roll into a log shape.

Cookie dough log removed from fridge & left to warm for 20 mins before slicing.
Cookie dough log removed from fridge & left to warm for 20 mins before slicing.

Wrap thoroughly in the cling film & refrigerate for up to 4 days, double wrap & freeze for up to one month. When ready to use, thaw in the fridge, overnight, if previously frozen, then remove from the fridge 15-30 minutes before slicing into 1/4″ thick discs.

Bake as follows :

With cocoa in the dough mixture it can be difficult to tell when the cookies are cooked: Firstly, don’t be surprised if some of the Mars Bar chunks burst from the edge of the cookie & bubble away – this is fine. They will easily come away from the parchment paper when cooled (hence the need for parchment paper, so you don’t have to use a knife to scrape your non stick baking sheets!!!).
The cookies will be set around the edge & although still soft to the touch (they will harden in cooling) each cookie will have a fixed shape & have a dull surface (not shiny where the butter & sugar are still baking).
It’s very hard to give an exact cooking time for these cookies due to the inherent variations of the cookie size & different ovens.
My suggestion would be to remove them from the oven if they fulfil the above criteria & to DEFINITELY not cook them for longer than 13 mins.
The large proportion of Cocoa will result in a dry, claggy, stick to the roof of your mouth Cookie if over cooked.
Better to have a soft chewy, slightly undercooked Cookie.
Remember Cookies are not like cakes! Once cooled & hardened if you feel they really are too undercooked, pop them back into the preheated oven for a couple more minutes. This should finish their cooking!

Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies, made for sharing!
Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies, made for sharing!

These cookies are at their best the next day after making (I’m sorry) but they still taste good once cooled!!
They make excellent gifts: Pop a few in a cellophane bag, tie with a pretty ribbon or rafia, or place in a pretty tin for a larger gift.
We don’t have to wait for special occasions like birthdays or Christmas (although these are always good opportunities to share & give).

Have you ever been surprised by a gift, just because someone wanted to show you they cared? If not, why not start a new tradition?
I know of a church, in Devon, who buy lots of Easter eggs & give them out to the businesses of their small town as a thank you, for the services the businesses supply to the townsfolk throughout the year!!! What an amazing idea!
Sharing is contagious! Now what I am ABSOLUTELY NOT saying is that we should give to receive. Only that by giving & sharing we are showing others & they in turn may go on to share.

A SHARING REVOLUTION : imagine the difference & smiles that would generate?

Everyone SHARING FEASTING AND HAVING FUN!

Sammie x

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