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!)
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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™‚

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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™‚