Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mini Pavolvas

Do you ever find yourself struggling with what to make for dessert when guests come over?  This is perfect.  It's made from things you're likely to have around the house, and it's so quick that you can whip it up right before you eat dinner, bake it while you eat and then just let it cool in the oven until you're ready to eat it.  Best of all they are individual size.  It always feels more personal and special when you can serve each person their own plate of dessert.

If you've never had pavlova before, the outside is nice and crispy, and the inside is like delicious marshmallow.  Then with the sweet soft cream and the tart berries you can't help but devour it!


  • 3 egg whites (preferably at room temperature)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1  cup whipping cream
  • Something to top it with - fresh or frozen fruit especially raspberries (as in my picture), strawberries, blueberries, or a nice tart lemon or lime curd (recipe to follow)
Recipe from allrecipes.com

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Step 1:
In a clean, very dry bowl of your stand mixer add your egg whites and beat until frothy.  I can't stress enough that the bowl and everything you use must be completely dry. Even the slightest bit of water and your egg whites won't whip up.

Step 2:
Once your egg whites are frothy add 3/4 cup sugar while continuing to beat the egg whites on medium speed.  Continue beating until the egg white mixture forms soft peaks.  It will look like fluffy whipped cream.

Using your spatula (or even your hand) fold in the lemon juice.  Then in a small bowl mix the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the cornstarch.  Then fold that into the egg whites as well.

Step 4:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Then use a round cookie cutter in the size you want to make to form your round shapes.  I used a 3" cookie cutter, and I got about 6 out of this recipe.  Just place your cookie cutter down on the parchment, fill with about 2-3 inches of your meringue mixture and then pull up.  Voila!  You can use a palette knife or a regular knife to smooth down the top edges if you want, but you don' have to.

Step 5:
Bake for 30 minutes then turn off the oven leaving the pavlovas inside until you're ready to eat it.

Step 6:
Prepare your toppings.  Whip the cream, defrost your berries and add some sugar if you want.  Then top and serve!

With the lemon curd it's almost like a lemon meringue pie.... but it does take longer to make. In case you want to, here's the lemon curd recipe I used:

Lemon curd: (makes enough for 3 pavlovas, you might want to double it if you're doing all lemon)

  • 3 egg yolks
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons soft butter
Recipe as found on marthastewart.com

In a saucepan add the butter, sugar, and yolks.  Give it a nice whisk to combine, I find this helps avoid clumps of egg.  Add the lemon zest and the juice and mix (it will look a little curdled).  Turn on the heat low and stir.  Keep stirring.  Stir until it's thick ... kind of like pudding.  Transfer it to another bowl, and let cool.  If you're leaving it overnight, cover it with plastic wrap making sure to put the plastic right up against the lemon curd, this will avoid that skin developing on the top. Then refrigerate until you're ready to use.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Nutella Biscotti

So after my last post (the cookie dough cupcakes with Nutella frosting) I had this half bottle of Nutella left in my house.  Just lying around ... looking delicious ... staring at me ... day ... after day.  I couldn't handle it anymore!  I have ZERO self control when it comes to Nutella.  I can eat the stuff with a spoon.

I knew I had to use the rest of the stuff before I grabbed said spoon and went at it.  This is what I came up with, and let me tell ya, it's delicious!  Sweet, crumbly goodness.  You could even push it over the edge with a drizzle of chocolate or even more Nutella.  The hazelnuts make it taste even more like Nutella. Love.

Nutella Biscotti:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Nutella
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
adapted from foodnetwork.com

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a side bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, cream together your butter, sugar, and Nutella on medium speed
  4. Crack your eggs into a separate bowl or glass and add your eggs, salt, and vanilla.  Then add eggs one at a time to your butter/sugar mixture.  Make sure to scrape down the bowl between each egg
  5. Add your flour and baking powder and mix on low until combined (about 30 seconds) don't over mix
  6. Add the chocolate chips and hazelnuts and mix on low until combined
  7. Take out a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat if you have one .  Put the dough on the baking sheet and shape it into a long log.  You're going to be cutting it into strips, so just make this log the size you want your biscotti to be.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes until the edges are browned and the middle doesn't feel too soft
  9. Take it out and let it cool for about 20 minutes (don't turn off the oven)
  10. Cut the loaf into 1-2 inch strips and place them (cut side down) back on the baking sheet
  11. Bake again for about 15-18 minutes until lightly browned and no longer soft in the middle

Cookie Dough Cupcakes with Fluffy Nutella Frosting

Yup, you heard right ... cookie dough AND Nutella!!  This is a cupcake that I made for my sister's birthday.  I thought long and hard about the things she loved most and this is what I came up with.  Plain vanilla cake stuffed with cookie dough, topped with fluffy Nutella frosting, drizzled with even more Nutella and topped with a soft delicious cookie!  This is the stuff dreams are made of ... well, my dreams anyway.

I'm still on the hunt for a nice vanilla cake.  I gave this recipe a try for the first time and it worked really well.  I don't know if I'd want to just have the cake by itself, but it complimented the cookie dough beautifully.  With everything else going on in this cupcake, you really just want the cake itself to be nice and plain ... and that's what this one was.

I always thought that this kind of cupcake would take forever to make, but both the cookie and the cake  are one bowl recipes.  I made it over two days.  On day I did the cupcakes stuffed with the cookies, then I let them cool overnight and frosted them in the morning.  Mostly because I love fresh frosting!

Don't worry about the fact that the cookie recipe has eggs in it, the 'cookie dough' in the centre does cook with the rest of the cupcake so it's perfectly safe to eat :-D

First ... make the cookie dough.  These are the same cookies I used to make the cookie nests in my last post.

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies: (this will make the cookie dough and the cookies to top the cupcake)

  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Adapted from Baking Illustrated

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the melted butter and both the sugars.  Cream these together on medium speed for about 30 seconds. 
  2. In a glass or small bowl, crack your eggs and add the salt and vanilla.  This is a tip that I learned in my baking class at George Brown.  Doing this helps to make sure that no shells make it into your batter and it also helps dissolve the salt before adding it to your mixture.
  3. Add the eggs one by one to your butter and sugar mixture.  TIP: Make sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each egg addition.
  4. I take a bit of a shortcut here and it works for me.  Once the eggs are completely mixed in I add the flour and then the baking powder on top and give it a quick mix with my hand.  I then turn on my mixer on the lowest speed and mix until the flour has been incorporated fully (and no longer).  Really, you should take out another bowl and sift your flour with your baking powder ... but I wanted this to be as quick as possible and my way works :-)
  5. Add your chocolate chips and turn your mixer on low until the chips have been mixed in.  Now you can dump this cookie dough into another bowl, or onto some wax paper, or even some plastic wrap.

Wash out the bowl and you're now ready to make your cake batter.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Quick Yellow Cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup sour cream  

Adapted from www.thekitchn.com

First let me say that this method is completely unconventional and nothing like I've ever made before, but it works.  The cake batter was almost the consistency of whipped cream and it didn't rise much when baked.  But stick with me on this one.

  1. Cream the butter and the sugar together in your stand mixer with your whisk attachment
  2. Crack your eggs into a side bowl or glass and add your salt and your vanilla.  Add the eggs one by one to your butter/sugar mixture.  Scrape the bowl down between each egg ... and scrape it well.
  3. Add the flour and the baking powder and mix on medium speed until incorporated, it will be thick.
  4. Add the milk and the sour cream and mix on medium speed.  Stop and scrape down the bowl well ... very well.  Mix again, then stop and scrape down the bowl.

Your batter will now look like whipped cream.

Take out two cupcake pans and place a cupcake liner in each.  

Assemble and Bake:
Place a tablespoon of batter into each of the 24 cups.  Then put a tablespoon of cookie dough in each.  Finish by putting another tablespoon into each cupcake liner.  You may need to add a little more to cover the cookie dough.  Again, the cake won't rise much so only leave about half a centimeter of space at the top.

Bake for 18-20 minutes until the tops spring back to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool completely.

While the cupcakes are in the oven, bake the small cookies.  Take out a baking sheet and line it with some parchment paper or a silicone baking mat if you have one.  Place a tablespoons of cookie dough spaced apart on the baking sheet.  You should be able to fit at least 20.  Once the cupcakes come out, reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and put the cookies in for about 10 minutes.  You want the edges to be just a little bit browned, they will look under done but don't worry, they're perfect.

You'll have more cookie dough than you need, you can make some extra cookies as a snack or wrap it up and put it in the freezer for another time.

Now ... the frosting..

Nutella Frosting

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup bitter sweet chocolate melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream
adapted from sweetapolita.com

  1. Place softened butter in the bowl of your stand mixer and, using the whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the icing sugar and beat on slow until incorporated and then turn up the speed to medium.  Don't forget to scrape down the bowl from time to time. Mix until light and fluffy
  3. Add the bitter sweet chocolate and mix until uniform in colour, then add the Nutella and mix again on medium
  4. Add the heavy cream one tablespoon at a time.  Scrape down the bowl in between additions
Warm up some Nutella in the microwave until smooth, you don't want it to be too hot, just smooth enough to drizzle.  Let it cool while you pipe the frosting onto the waiting cupcakes.  Place the Nutella into a piping bag, or a sandwich bag works just fine.  Cut a very small hole in one corner and drizzle away.  Add a small cookie to the top and you're done.  Enjoy!

Serve to friends for the "oooooooo ..... aaahhhhhh" effect.

Blogging tips
Share on Tumblr