Crystallised Pansies

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It wasn’t exactly a lovely day but… at least I got to make summer last a bit longer! Seriously, how did I not know about crystallising pansies (or any flowers) before? So easy! And pretty too, I put them on a cake which I will post the recipe for later ๐Ÿ™‚
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They last well and they just taste like sugar really, I don’t think pansies have as much of a taste or aroma like roses and violets do! And they make everything look beautiful. Mmmhmmm.

So, all you need is three ingredients and time!

Crystallised Pansies
Ingredients:
Clean, fresh pansies
Egg white
Caster Sugar
Instructions:
Grab a clean paint brush ready to use. Also get out a big tray to dry the flowers on and put the caster sugar onto a plate or small bowl.
Pick up a pansy by the stem, or the very top of the stem and place it face down on a plate. Gently paint on the egg white, making sure to cover all of the flower and where the petals over lap. Flip the flower and repeat on the front. Now hold the flower over the sugar and spoon/sprinkle it into both sides evenly. I found this was better than dipping the flower, otherwise the sugar would clump up.
Set down the flower onto the tray and keep going with the other pansies.
You will probably find a rhythm of your own that works!
Leave to dry overnight (or more, depending on the temperature and humidity). You may want to flip over the flowers to dry both sides, at some point. Store carefully in an airtight container for about a month.
Makes as many as you want, you can also use rose petals too.

Enjoy! Sami ๐Ÿ™‚ xx

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Valentine’s Summer Pavlova (Pansy Pav)

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚ Val had never made pavlova before so I think this was a pretty good first time job!
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The glory of egg whites, sugar, air and time before it goes into the oven (^) and after (v).

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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.

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Have a lovely week everyone ๐Ÿ™‚

Jam Meringue Slice AKA How to Use Up Failed Whipped Egg Whites

Many of you reading this will know the feeling; when something that was going so well decides halfway through that, ACTUALLY, it doesn’t want to go as you planned…. like when suddenly your meringue batter decides it does not want to whip to stiff peaks and instead, stay a glossy and glorious yet less-than-satisfactory mess. Perhaps, as happened to me the first time my egg whites failed at the tender age of 8, it will reduce you to tears.
My advice to you, if any of this is the case, is that you must not fear; instead, use that kitchen ingenuity to use up the incredibly sour lemons that life has given and power on. Break a few more eggs (save the yolks for later) and keep going on with your recipe and put the whites aside to use in another fashion.
Exhibit A)
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A delicious and redemption laden slice with minimum complication and as called for after your egg white ‘disaster’, not stressful at all.
I would just like to take a moment to recognise the people who have endured this trialling experience and also run out of eggs in the process, leaving none extra to whip up and finish the recipe. That’s tough man. We feel for you. If this is you, then I fear options may be scarce: look up substitutes online or maybe find a way to adapt the recipe. Also; sorry. I feel your pain.
So! Advice to prevent such an event? As a matter of fact I do have some, especially after being quite paranoid ever since that day ten years ago when it comes to whipping egg whites…..

+Be super careful separating those eggs! Everyone seems to have their own method (personally I have always found it terrifying to use the broken egg shells as they look so manacing *shudder*), I use my hands, so I won’t tell you how to do it exactly. Just don’t break the yolks any speck of fat (or shell) will inhibit the aerating you desire. For those of you interested, I have seen people use empty plastic bottles to separate eggs… google it!

+If you want to be extra cautious, separate the egg over a tea cup, and not the bowl of egg whites you are going to use. This way if the egg yolk breaks or isn’t as fresh as you had hoped, it won’t spoil the egg whites you already have. A little time consuming yes, but worth the effort.

+You need an extra clean bowl! Don’t use plastic, please! It traps fats from previous mixtures and is a bit of a risk. Glass and metal do well, although I have seen experiments showing that copper bowls take the cake (or pavlova) when it comes to making meringue. Another thing to google!

+To clean it, you can wipe the inside of the bowl with some white vinegar or lemon juice to get rid of any fat residue or dust or dirt. I find this does the trick!

If all of this seems a little pedantic to you, or you have never experienced any issues, then don’t worry; just keep powering on as is! We all bake differently and have different histories, recipes and mishaps to share (try the salt instead of sugar deal, wehey!).
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I have written this recipe as if the egg whites have not failed just in case you want to make this slice anyway, or simply to use up egg whites leftover!
If you DO have failed egg whites, then just skip the egg white whipping stage and pour it the mixture onto the slice once slathered in jam. This recipe tastes great whether your whites are at stiff peak or not.
I sincerely hope this has helped!

Jam and Meringue Slice
Ingredients:
Base:
220g flour
20g custard powder (optional)
100g sugar
125g butter, melted
To top:
100g any jam
2 egg whites
100g castor sugar

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a 20cm by 20cm slice tin with baking paper.
In a large bowl, mix together all the base ingredients (the flour, custard powder, sugar and butter) until combined. Press evenly and firmly into the slice tin. Spread the jam on top.
Whip the egg whites until bubbly, then add the sugar bit by bit, beating until glossy. It was at this point that mine decided they could not be bothered anymore and would not whip further than thisโ€ฆ. So if this happens to you, it doesnโ€™t matter! If you can however, get them to stiff peaks. Spread on top of the jam on the slice and bake for about 25 minutes, until the meringue is crispy and lightly golden. Cool in the tin, then cut and serve.
Lasts about 2 days.

NOTE: based on some feedback, the base may be a little too sweet for you, so you could use about 75g sugar if you prefer.

Sami ๐Ÿ™‚

Classic Pavlova

First post in a little while, apologies, but I have pavlova to make up for it! Whenever most Kiwis are asked to make something traditionally ‘NZ’, I think this is what most people come up with. Yes, there is still a debate between whether it’s origins lie in NZ or in Aussie, but hey, maybe we can share….. this one has kiwifruit to add to the kiwi-ness however.
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This pavlova was made in France. In fact, the last 3 times I made pavlova, it was in France…. I think it is safe to say it was very much enjoyed. It’s a Christmas favourite, due to the colours and the fact that it is much more summery than a Christmas pudding. My lovely French host sister described it as ‘tres beau’ and ‘like eating a cloud’! We made it again the next week.
It’s very easy too, and is a good way to use up egg whites! It is supposed to have corn flour in it to help with the texture but alas there was none; it still worked out great though!

Classic Pavlova
Ingredients:
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup castor sugar
To decorate:
300ml whipping cream
Fresh fruit, such as kiwifruit and strawberries, chopped

Instructions:
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
In a clean bowl, begin to whip the egg whites until bubbly. From then, add the sugar a tablespoon at a time and continue beating on high until stiff peaks are formed. Spread onto the tray into the desired shape.
TURN DOWN THE OVEN to 100 degrees Celsius and put in the pavlova. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the crust is hard, but be careful not to brown it! Remove from the oven and cool completely.
To finish off, whip the cream until stiff peaks form and spread over the pavlova. Arrange the fruit on top. Done!
Serves 4-8
I would be careful not to put the cream on top more than a few hours before serving to make sure that the cream does not seep and ruin the nice crust on the outside. The dessert does keep well however, for a good few days in the fridge. This pavlova was made the day before and decorated on the day, and was delicious.

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Enjoy this wee slice of NZ and have a great day ๐Ÿ™‚

Mini Raspberry Cupcakes with Meringue Frosting

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Just a cute wee recipe from a few years ago. These adorable bites are simply a raspberry cupcake with 7-minute-esque frosting. The raspberry flavour comes from raspberry jam, which was the only thing on hand during winter (not even frozen berries, the price of those babies sky-rocketed…..!) but I am sure you could easily use any other jam or curd as long as it is smooth and seedless. This recipe easily translates into large cupcakes but I would double the recipe for 12, a full batch!
Enjoy tutti ๐Ÿ™‚

Mini Raspberry Cupcakes with Meringue Frosting

75 g butter
ยผ cup sugar
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp seedless raspberry jam
1 ยผ cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp milk

To Frost:
1 egg white
ยผ tsp cream of tartar
1 Tbsp seedless raspberry jam
ยผ cup sugar
1 tsp water

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180ยฐC and line 6 hole regular cupcake tin and a 6 hole mini cupcake tin.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the jam and oil. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Gradually add to the butter mixture. Mix in the milk. Spoon into the cupcake cases and bake for 10 minutes, for the mini ones and 15 minutes, for the regular ones, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire wrack.

Lightly mix the egg white, cream of tartar, jam and sugar together in a small glass or ceramic bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk until the egg mix is white. Then add the water and continue to beat until the frosting reaches stiff peaks. Ice the cupcakes. Leave for the icing to set, then store in an airtight container.

Makes 24 mini cupcakes
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