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

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(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)

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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 🙂

 

 

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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.

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Have fun everyone!

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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 🙂 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 🙂

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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 🙂