Pavlova zen and my hive

With a trio of family birthdays to celebrate, the house was packed to the rafters. Fizzy wine bottles were popping and we all talked over each other (nothing new there). We began the evening by chowing down on a selection of Bruny Island Cheese Co cheeses and some fat, salty olives.

At one point I was in another room in the house, collecting something or other.
I managed to stop and still myself (not an easy task) and listen to the hubbub. It was a loud and happy buzz, which made me think. This is my hive, my source of happiness. It’s not always harmonious (we ain’t a cult for goodness sakes) but even when our voices are raised in gleeful disagreement, there is no better sound.

To help celebrate three birthdays there were fittingly, three desserts. The pavlova, Sister 2’s amazeballs baked cheesecake and some decadently iced chocolate cupcakes.

The Yak adores pavlova and it is a super gluten free dessert. This rather large version is as light as a unicorns tinkle and as fluffy as a fairy tutu. It has a crisp outer shell and a marshmallow interior that is synonymous with a good pavlova. (Well, that’s how we like them here, feel free to disagree.) My very favourite fruit to accompany this dessert is that somewhat saucy, acidic passionfruit. This crazy fruit brings a wonderful acidic zing that perfectly counterbalances the sugary hit of the pav.

I pride myself on my meringue skill. (This is up there with my other useful talent of attracting the attention of random crazy strangers in the street.) You may have heard this all before but for what it’s worth, here are my top meringue tips.

1. Don’t use new eggs, older egg white works better.
2. Bring the eggs to room temperature.
3. Make sure your bowl (stainless steel or glass) is very clean and totally dry. Water is your enemy at this point.
4. No egg yolk in your whites.
5. Beat your eggs to a stiff peak before adding the sugar, always add that pinch of salt first.
6. Add your sugar slowly, then beat until the sugar is dissolved and no longer gritty. Do not rush this process. You will not regret this, this is the Zen of Pavlova. Patience is a virtue when it comes to meringue. This is not a job you can rush if you want to achieve that stiff, white glossy goop that is synonymous with this much beloved dessert.

PAVLOVA

WHAT YOU NEED
6 egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of salt
2 cups caster sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder or 1/2 tsp vanilla paste or essence
1 tbl cornflour
2 tsp vinegar

HOW YOU DO IT
Heat the oven to 180C.
Place baking paper on a large tray and draw a 22 cm circle for a flatter pavlova or a 20cm circle for a taller version. (It will spread a little.) Turn the paper pencil side down on the baking tray.
Beat the egg whites and pinch of salt with an electric beater on low until they stand in firm peaks.
Keep beating the egg white on low adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time.
Once all of the sugar is added, continue beating on a medium speed until the meringue is no longer gritty to the touch. This takes about 5 minutes or so.
Fold through the vanilla, cornflour and vinegar.
Spread the mixture with a large spoon onto the prepared tray and place in the oven. Drop temperature down to 130 (120 fan forced) and bake for one hour. Rotate every 20 minutes to ensure even baking and colouring.
Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the pavlova cool down in the oven.
Expect cracks on the surface and the pavlova may collapse a little as it cools, don’t panic, this is all ok.
Topped with whipped cream and your favourite fruit. Think passionfruit, strawberries, mangoes, nectarines, peaches and kiwi fruit. Use one fruit or make it a fruity salad.

A Cheergerm adaptation based on a crazy New Zealand teatowel recipe, a Margaret Fulton recipe and an online Annabel Langbein recipe

IMG_4816


http://www.annabel-langbein.com/recipes/fantasy-pavlova/62/

http://www.brunyislandcheese.com.au/


Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb and chocolate pudding, gluten free.

Pretty pink stems of rhubarb inspiration whacked me aside the head the other day at the growers market. (Not figuratively, that would have hurt.) This purchase, coupled with a recent winning deconstructed rhubarb and chocolate tart on MKR (My Kitchen Rules, an Aussie TV cooking competition), had the old brain cogs a whirring. The thinking was…how can I enjoy these flavours without going to a whole lot of bother/trouble/effort and time?

Pudding was the natural answer. (It often is.) A popular dessert in this here household is a rhubarb and gingerbread pudding, so why not look for a similar recipe using chocolate? Naturally, it had to be gluten free.

This cooky person did hold a little bit of hesitancy regarding the marriage of chocolate and rhubarb, but the way the judges on MKR oohed and threw compliments around the room like small boys with a new handball, meant it had to be tried.

My gluten free adaptation has a lot less sugar than the original recipe, the sourness of rhubarb is a fave in our family and we don’t like it too sweet, man. (The butter has been knocked back a bit too.) It does use a food processor so it is super easy and quick.

To really ensure it’s validity, a poll was taken from those who shovelled this pud into their fizzogs for dessert.

The Verdict

Kid 1: ‘It’s nice but not a winning combination, I much prefer rhubarb bumble (crumble.)’
Mr Bagpipes visiting from Big Sky Land: ‘Mmmmm, we can have more of that lass, somewhat down the track.’
The Yak: ‘Yummy, I love it.’
Cheergerm: I like the cray cray (what all the hip young thangs say for ‘crazy’) combo of bitter dark chocolate and slightly sour rhubarb. It’s nuts but it works.

What do 10 years old know anyway?

GLUTEN FREE RHUBARB AND CHOCOLATE PUDDING

WHAT YOU NEED

Fruit

700 g trimmed weight rhubarb (recipe said 600 but I had a big bunch)
Cut into 2cm sizes
50 g coconut sugar (or raw, brown, rapadura)

Sponge

150 g self raising gluten free flour
50 g sorghum flour (or buckwheat or teff flour)
25 g cocoa powder
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
150g butter, room temperature and diced
150 g coconut sugar (raw caster sugar, rapadura)
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 tsp vanilla extract
50g dark chocolate chips (I used the good stuff baby…Callebaut callet, oh, fancy Belgian chocolate)

WHAT YOU DO

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6.
Cut the rhubarb into 2 – 3 cm lengths and toss with the sugar in a bowl.
Spread evenly over the base of a buttered 30cm/2 litre capacity ovenproof dish (or equivalent size.)
Sift the flours, cocoa powder and baking powder in a separate bowl.
Reserving 2 tablespoons of the sugar, place the butter, eggs, vanilla and sifted mixture into a food processor and cream together. (No food processor? Try beating butter, vanilla and sugar, add eggs gradually then the sifted ingredients.)
Stir in the chocolate chips with a spoon.
Spread the mixture over the rhubarb and sprinkle on the reserved sugar.
Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. (Remember if you hit a choc chip it will come out looking like it isn’t cooked but it probably is).
This is great hot out of the oven, or warm.
We snarfled it with ice cream but it would be delicious with yoghurt, custard or cream.

A cheergerm adaptation from the daily mail uk website

Pop here for my gluten free rhubarb crumble recipe:

https://cheergerm.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/gluten-free-rhubarb-and-berry-bumble/

Go here for the original non-gluten free rhubarb and chocolate pudding recipe. You could still knock back the sugar and butter quantities as per this recipe and keep the rest the same.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-1272877/Recipe-Chocolate-rhubarb-sponge-pudding.html

Other websites that you may be interested in:

http://www.callebaut.com

https://au.tv.yahoo.com/my-kitchen-rules/recipe/23057262/deconstructed-chocolate