Friday, 26 December 2008

Christmas 2008: Chocolate Pavlova and Lemon Curd Tartlets

It's been too long since my last post. I've thought of a long list of excuses as to why it has taken me 3 months (!!) to finally blog again: started full time work, facebook, social events (baby showers, weddings), camera battery was never charged, I usually cook/bake at night (bad lighting for food photos), etc.

Enough excuses. I am sure you are all tired of looking at those broad bean photos. ;-)

I love the holiday seasons because I associate it with spending time with family & friends, sharing food and baking. Lots of it! It's become a tradition that I make the dessert for the Christmas day feast with Quikong's family. I usually make the 'best ever baked cheesecake' which is always a crowd pleaser. But this time I wanted to make something to suit the season (it is after all summer downunder). So after some consultation with Quikong's mum and sister, I decided to try something different this year: Chocolate Pavlova with fresh berries. Since I needed to use up the remaining egg yolks, I also made lemon curd tartlets.

This is my last post for 2008 and hopefully I will get my blog mojo back for 2009. :-)

Happy Holidays and best wishes for the New Year!!!

Chocolate Pavlova
By Nigella Lawson, 'Forever Summer' p. 189
Serves 8-10


For the chocolate meringue base:
6 egg whites
300g caster sugar
3 tblspns cocoa powder, seived
1 tsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
50g dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the topping:
500ml double/thickened cream
Vanilla bean
500g raspberries or any berries that are in season
2-3 tbspn coarsely grated dark chocolate


1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
2. Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
3. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar, and the chopped chocolate.
4. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.
5. Mound on to a baking sheet in a fat circle approx. 23cm in diameter, smoothing the sides and the top.
6. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 150C and cook for about 1 to 1 1/4 hours. When it's ready, it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but when you prod the centre you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers.
7. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the chocolate meringue disc cool completely.
(Note: This can be prepared 1-2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container. )

To Serve
1. When you're ready to serve, invert onto a big, flat-bottomed plate.
2. Scrape vanilla bean and put it in a big bowl together with the cream. Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter over the berries.
10. Coarsely grate the chocolate so that you get curls rather than rubble, as you don't want the berries' luscious colour and form to be obscured, and sprinkle haphazardly over the top. I also threw on some edible silver pearls. Serve immediately.

Lemon Curd Tartlets

For curd
(Recipe from Maggie Beer)
4 egg yolks
½ cup castor sugar
60 g unsalted butter
3 teaspoons zest of Meyer Lemon
100 mls Meyer lemon juice

Whisk egg yolks and sugar until sugar is dissolved and the mixture well combined but don’t allow to become frothy. Then put that mixture and other ingredients all together in a heavy non reactive saucepan at low temperature and bring to a simmer. As it becomes thicken and you see bubbles appearing take it away from the heat continuing to stir. Allow to cool. Cover until ready to fill the pastry cases.

Use your favourite sweet shortcurst dough recepe. Roll out the dough to the desired shapes (i.e. a big tart or tartlets) and fully bake the pastry according to the recipe. Allow to cool before filling it with curd.

Serving suggestion
Dust with icing sugar and serve with something as luscious as double Jersey cream. I kept it simple by decorating the tartlets with a few strands of shredded mint leaf.