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Hello Weekend and Time Enough for Berries

Hello Weekend and Time Enough for Berries

I have slowly been making headway into the fruits I had frozen from last year market season. As I type, I only have half a bag left! I cooked the first batch into a compote to top on Pavlova here and several breakfasts of crunchy granola. I love the textural balance of the crunch from the granola, melting yogurt, yielding into the fleshy softness of the fruit compote. That was the same allure that this combination of meringue crunch, strained thick yogurt laced with honey and cardamom topped with generous dollops of compote had for me. 

This pavlova - It is simple, delicious and yet decadent in a especially frivolous way! Perfect for a weekend when the weather is not quite warm but surely past the grasp of cold.... Like today.

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Happy Valentine's Day!

Chocolate Pavlova with Chestnut cream1

Ok! I confess, we don't really celebrate this day.

Not because we have some moral issue against the callous commercialism enveloping this day or the fact that everything around you is cloyingly pink or I-am-a-HOT-vampire-I-want-to-draw-your-blood red or because it's too cute and teens-y for a 30 something couple whose anniversary only just went past.

No... It's just that we are lazy!

And yes, all of that above.


I have no problem with dedicating a day to the one you love. In the age of calendars and smart phones, such Block-the-Date ideas are perhaps the needed thing. With all that constant reminders, if you really don't get the point or forget the date, I mean, you really need to make a neuro appointment, stat!

But, I do rebel against the idea of having everything being boxed into that rather stereo typed heart... everything from chocolate truffles filled with overly sweet strawberry juice to cards that overflow with mushyness to the same shaped diamonds!!

C Pavlova-collage

All I really want, is to just say..

I love you.

I thank you for being in my life.

So, dear reader of my blog. That is all I want to say to you!

C Pavlova side

Happy Valentine's Day to you and your loved ones!

Continue for the recipe

Chocolate Pavlova with Chestnut Creme, Raspberries and Clementines

Chocolate Pavlova with Chestnut creamFor the Pavlova
3 large Egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2 T Dutch cocoa
1 generous T chopped bitter chocolate
135 g sugar

For the Chestnut Creme
3/4 cup chestnut puree (recipe below)
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/2 pint raspberries
2-3 clementines
3 T bitter chocolate shavings

For the Chestnut Puree
15 roasted or boiled chestnuts, shelled and peeled
3 T butter, room temperature
3 T powdered sugar
3 T cream

Preheat the oven to 300F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Process all the chestnut puree ingredients except the cream to all smooth a puree as possible. With the processor on, slowly drizzle in the cream to a fine puree that is almost spreadable. Set aside until ready to use. This can be made a couple of days ahead and refrigerated. Then, bring back to room temperature before using.

Whip the egg whites until frothy and doubled in volume. Slowly, stream in the sugar and continue whipping until the mixture is glossy and holds stiff peaks. Do not over whip. Sift in the cocoa powder and gently fold in. You can either completely mix it or let it streak as I did.

Divide the meringue into two rough circles of about 6 inches each. You can choose to smooth the top or leave it with rustic peaks. Bake for about an hour or hour and fifteen until the edges harden and start to crack. Remove and cool on rack for an hour.

While the pavlova is cooling, whip the cream to stiff peaks and fold in the powdered sugar. Fold a third of the whipped cream into the chestnut puree to loosen it. Add the puree to remaining whipped cream and fold gently to incorporate.

To assemble, spread half the chestnut creme mixture on one pavlova. Arrange half the berries and clementine slices on it. Sprinkle half the chocolate shavings. Top with the second pavlova, remaining creme, fruits and chocolate.

You can serve immediately but I recommend letting it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving to allow the pavlova to get the flavor of the creme and them all to work their magic together.....

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Pavlova with Banana Mascarpone Mousse and Vanilla Mascarpone Ice Cream

Choc Pavlova + Banana mascarpone mousse + Vanilla mascarpone ice cream + choc mascarpone sauce 1

July 3, 2010 Update: This post was featured on FoodBuzz Top 9 today

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

I didn't think I was going to post about this at all. It has been a very trying month for me with few reasons to smile. Truth be told, it has been a challenging couple of years, really. While this blog has kept me sane through most of it, in my frustration, I turned my anger on it.

For some time, recently, I have been contemplating discontinuing blogging. While food is a passion and blogging a medium for expressing it, it really was meant to be a hobby, albeit a serious one. My profession is something else, atleast it is supposed to be.

Choc Pavlova + Banana mascarpone mousse2

Anyway, I lost interest in creating anything. I just wasn't upto putting on my culinary thinking cap when things were falling apart around me. But, eventually, I realised that the distraction that had worked so effectively so far, still had it's magic. Besides, I had made a commitment to the DB group and my conscience wouldn't let me break it..

Making the components of this challenge took away my mind from the reality, even if just for a couple of hours. It was a much needed break and breath of different air that I sorely needed. So, although late, here is my creation for this month's Daring Baker's challenge - Chocolate Pavlova with Banana Mascarpone Mousse and Vanilla Mascarpone Ice Cream.

Choc Pavlova + Banana mascarpone mousse + Vanilla mascarpone ice cream + choc mascarpone sauce

Verdict: Anyway, as to the dessert, it is indeed a fantastic one, at once light and rich with the different components coming together beautifully. Although, we were asked to make everything chocolate, since I am not a chocolate fan, I made a banana mousse instead. Also, I churned the mascarpone cream into ice cream. The rich creaminess lends itself very nicely for a smooth, creamy ice cream even without an ice cream maker.

Chocolate Meringue (for the chocolate Pavlova)

3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.

Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)

Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon. (Class made rounds, hearts, diamonds and an attempt at a clover was made!). Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Banana Mascarpone Mousse

1 ripe banana
3 T heavy cream
2/3 cup (160g) mascarpone
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 T powdered sugar

Puree the banana with the cream until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the powdered sugar and nutmeg. Add the mascarpone and beat until you get a creamy mixture of mousse consistency. Whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks.

Chill for atleast 10 minutes before assembling onto the pavlova.

Crème Anglaise
(a component of the Vanilla Mascarpone Ice Cream below)

1 cup (235 mls) whole milk
1 cup (235 mls) heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow. Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.

Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium.

Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.

Vanilla Mascarpone Ice Cream

1 recipe crème anglaise (above
2/3 cup (160g) mascarpone

Once the creme anglaise has chilled, add the mascarpone and whip to make a smooth mixture. Adjust sugar if needed. At this point follow your ice cream maker's instructions to churn and freeze for ice cream.

If you don't have an ice cream maker, freeze the mixture and after an hour, beat the mixture to break down the ice crystals and incorporate air. Repeat atleast 2 more times and then let freeze for atleast 4 hours.

Chocolate Mascarpone Cream

1/2 cup crème anglaise and mascarpone mixture (recipe above)
2 T heavy cream
1 T semi sweet chocolate

Melt the chocolate into the cream and cool to room temperature. Stir into the creme anglaise mixture.

Stacked Pavlova Assembly

Place one layer of the pavlova on the plate. Pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas. Sprinkle cocoa powder or chocolate shavings on the mousse layer and then arrange banana slices over it. Place the next layer of pavlova on the slices and repeat. Drizzle the chocolate mascarpone cream over the top. Top with the Vanilla Mascarpone ice cream.

Share your creations tagging @ashafsk on Instagram and hashtag #MadeFromFSK