Pistachio, Blueberry and Pansy Pavlova ({Gluten Free} Birthday Cake Alternative)

20131225_145255

(Don’t know what happened to the quality of that picture, sorry! ^)

Today I get to ice my birthday cake 🙂 That makes many people happy, constructing a big cake and making it look all pretty, then sharing it with everyone?

Anyway I wanted to show that you don’t have to have a cake to have a glorious creation to showcase at your birthday. A stack of meringues can do just the trick! Plus they can be simpler!

(here is a smaller version….. v)

20131225_145255

 

Anyway, I hope you enjoy; I catch a plane soon so I thought I would post while I get the time. When is your next break? Do you have any baking planned? Do comment 🙂

 

 

20131225_145318

Pistachio, Blueberry and Pansy Pavlova 
Ingredients:
Pavlova:
8 egg whites (at room temperature)
400g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 Tbsp cornflour
Blueberry Coulis:
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
To Assemble:
Handful of pistachios
Crystallized pansies
300ml cream, whipped to soft peaks

 Instructions:
Preheat the oven to about 120 degrees Celsius. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper. If you like, you can trace three plates/cups are gradient-sizing as guidelines for later on.

Whip the egg whites in a large bowl until they are light and frothy. Increase the speed and start adding the sugar a bit at a time. Continuing whipping for about 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved (you shouldn’t be able to feel it when you rub some between your fingers). Mix in the vanilla and cornflour.

Spread the meringue onto the trays, so you have three big circles, getting smaller. Bake these babies for about an hour, or until they are slightly crunchy on the outside and cooked through. Cool on the trays.

Meanwhile, make the coulis! Cook the blueberries over low heat until thickened. Cool.

When you are ready to assemble, carefully transfer the biggest circle to your serving plate (doesn’t matter if it breaks) and layer on some cream and a bit of coulis. Place the next layer on top and then repeat. Finally, arrange on your top layer and spoon the coulis over the whole thing. Sprinkle on the pistachios and arrange on the pansies. Done!

Serves a good 10+ people. You can make the pavs a day before if you like.

20131225_145343

 

Have fun everyone!

Advertisements

Banana and Blackberry Cake (with Vegan Option)

I promised cake! 😀

Image

I went through a cake making craze this summer, and here is one of the results. I love the wreath of berries look, it seems very ‘Mother Nature’ to me.

Image

 

The cake itself is vegan, so it stays super moist and keeps really well. There is cream on top, but you can always use coconut cream instead, and the result will be just as billowy and delicious!

Image

If you don’t have any black berries on hand, then any other berry will do quite nicely. I’m sure even if you topped it with frozen berries, it will look divine.

Image

 

Please have a wonderful week everyone 🙂 Sami xx

 

Banana and Blackberry Cake with Vegan Option
Ingredients:
Vegan Banana Cake:
300g flour
1&1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
115g sugar
300g mashed banana
125mls water
80mls canola oil
To top:
180mls cream (or coconut cream for vegan)
25g icing sugar
A few blackberries
To fill:
Blackberry Jam, about half a cup
To decorate:
A handful of blackberries
Mint leaves

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease a 20cm diameter cake tin.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and sugar until combined. In another bowl, mix together the banana, water and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix gently until just combined. If necessary, add a splash more of water. Pour into the tin and bake the cake for about 45 minutes, until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Cool for about 10 minutes in the tin then flip onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the cream, crush the berries through a sieve so that you have some of the juice. Whip the cream and icing sugar until soft peaks form, then add the berry juice. If the colour isn’t as strong as you would like, add some more berry juice. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
To assemble, cut the cake in half horizontally. Spread some jam on the top of the bottom half, almost touching the edges. Spread about 1/3 of the cream on top of the jam, making sure you almost touch the edges too. Put the top half in place, being careful not to press down too much. Spread the rest of the cream on top of the cake. Arrange the berries around the edges like an adorable wee crown. Add some mint leaves to garnish. Serve and bask in your Earth God/dess goodness!
Serves about 10 nicely.
The cake itself keeps un-iced etc for a few days in an airtight container. The colour of the cream fades a bit after about an hour.
Image

Luscious Chocolate Cheesecake

I laughed because when I looked at what I wrote about this cheesecake a few years ago, I said it was its own level on the food pyramid. It’s true.

Image

I liked it so much I even went to the effort of putting up a sheet to photograph it! I am sure you will love it too, especially if you are a lover of both chocolate AND cheesecake.

Image

This is my dad’s recipe and specialty 🙂

Image

The gingernuts in the base give a nice tangy contrast to the rich sweet filling, but I am sure you can switch them with another plain biscuit if you like.

Luscious Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe
Ingredients:
Base:
125g malt biscuits
125g gingernuts
100g butter
Filling:
250g dark chocolate
250g cream cheese
½ cup (100g) caster sugar
150mls cream
2 eggs

Instructions:

Line a 23cm diameter spring-form cake tin with tin foil.

Crush the biscuits until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Melt the butter and mix with the biscuits until combined.  Press onto the bottom and the sides of the tin with a glass or your fingers. Refrigerate until set.

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Cool slightly. Beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Set aside. Separate the eggs and whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Set aside. Whip the cream to soft peaks. Set aside. Beat the egg yolks slightly. Set aside. Beat the egg yolks into the cream cheese mixture. Slowly beat the chocolate in a bit at a time. Working quickly so the chocolate doesn’t melt, carefully fold in the egg whites, then the cream. Pour into the cake tin cover in tin foil. Refrigerate 4 hours until set.

Serves 20 (or 5 for 4 days……!) (well it really depends on how hungry you are. It’s pretty rich).

Lasts for about a week

Enjoy my lovelies!

Image

 

Valentine’s Summer Pavlova (Pansy Pav)

Image

Happy early Valentine’s day to all of you!
My lovely friend Valentina (brilliant name, I know) came over the other day and we made you a treat 🙂 Val had never made pavlova before so I think this was a pretty good first time job!
Image

The glory of egg whites, sugar, air and time before it goes into the oven (^) and after (v).

Image

We never really set out to make anything fancy (not that fancy means difficult!) but when we were dolloping the billowy white meringue onto the tray, we sort of just ended up making a heart shape. Then I remembered all the pansies I had outside….. and voila!
Sadly as it was a spur of the moment decision, I didn’t have time to crystallise them as I would have liked, but they are edible and you can’t really taste them. If the idea of eating these beauties doesn’t really appeal to you, either try using rose petals, decorating with fruit or just marvel in their prettiness then push them to the side of the plate.
Val and I arranged the pansies by colour roughly on the table before we decorated so that we were sure we had enough colours. There is some more advice about this in the instructions so don;t worry! To top it all off, we spiked the cream with a bit of lemoncello to add it the flavour. Delicious 🙂

Image

Pansy Pavlova
Ingredients:
Pavlova:
5 eggs whites (room temperature is best)
225g sugar
1 Tbsp cornflour
To top:
200mls cream
1 Tbsp limoncello (or to taste!)
+
Lots of pansies to decorate (a big bowlful!)

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to about 110 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray with a baking mat or baking paper.
Make sure the bowl you will be beating the whites in is nice and clean! Start by beating the whites until they are light and bubbly. Then increase the speed to high and add the sugar one tablespoonful at a time. Only add the next one after the sugar has dissolved. Continue this until the sugar is used up. This is a long process but worth it in the end if you want a big puffy pavlova! Beat the mixture until thick, glossy and stiff peaks form. Mix in the cornflour (this gives it the marshmallow texture in the middle). Spoon onto the baking tray and spread the meringue thickly into a heart shape. Bake for an hour, until the pavlova has a firm crust but is not browned. Cool on the tray.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, you have some time to go and collect your pansies. Giving them a wee wash first is recommended. You can arrange them onto a table or tray to make sure you have enough to cover the pav, or if you have enough colours (if you are going for the gradient option that is). When the pavlova was cooled, Val and I took the time to have a practice run and arrange the pansies on the pavlova without cream on top, then taking them all off again. This is by no means compulsory!
To assemble, whip the cream to almost stiff peaks then mix in the lemoncello, making sure to give it a taste! Spread it on top of the pavlova evenly, not too close to the edge, then arrange the pansies on top. Done!
You are best to serve this soon after decorating as the flowers do wilt after about an hour. The pav by itself can be kept (when airtight) fresh for a few days! Serves a crowd.

Image

 

Have a lovely week everyone 🙂