Dessert

Richard’s Favourite Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut butter cookies | Hello Victoria Blog

Okay, it’s time for a really simple recipe. I’ve meant to post this for ages, but haven’t made them often enough, and keep forgetting to take a photo. These are one of Richard’s favourite things that I make – they’re a softer cookie (unlike the crisp biscuits that people tend to make here in the UK), with lots of peanut flavour.

Now, the most important part of the recipe, is the peanut butter that you use. If it’s one of those cheaper brands, with tons of added sugar and palm oil, then you won’t get as strong of a peanut taste. I only ever buy 100 percent peanut, peanut butter. Suprisingly, Morrisons has a really good one, which is waaaay cheaper than all the health-food ones, but still tastes great. Trust me, I love this stuff. It’s great in a banana smoothie too!

Peanut butter cookies | Hello Victoria Blog

These are a really simple cookie, where you just have to cream together the butters and sugar, add some eggs, and then mix in the dry ingredients. Nothing fancy or complicated here! (more…)

No-Churn Honeycomb Ice Cream with Chocolate Ribbons

No-churn honeycomb ice cream | Hello Victoria

One of my very favorite things in the world is ice cream. Well, frozen desserts to be honest – if it’s anything frozen and dessert like, I’m in. I remember the first time I went to Tickleberry’s in Okanagan Falls, BC and saw how many flavours they had (72!)… it was love at first sight. If you’re ever in the area, and like frozen things, you have to go! I remember we didn’t understand that the little pictures near the prices indicated how many scoops each size actually had. I mean, when you order a single, you imagine it’s one scoop, right? Wrong! It’s three! I actually ordered the “large”, thinking it was 4 scoops (6), and was so confused when they kept asking me to choose more flavours! It came in a little bucket!

So for me, one of the saddest things about having to leave my Kitchenaid mixer in Canada, was the lack of the ice cream attachment. It’s kind of hard to make my own ice cream without one 😉

No-churn honeycomb ice cream with chocolate ribbons | Hello Victoria

Enter the no-churn ice cream method! Now, I experimented with this a little last summer, with my No-churn Piña Colada ice cream and the No-churn Strawberries + Cream. But the big problem I have, is that almost all no-churn recipes out there use only double cream and condensed milk. And that, my friends, tastes as rich and heavy as it sounds! It’s waaaay too rich with only double cream, but it’s the only way to whip the mix prior to freezing. You dilute the fat content too much with milk, etc. and not only will it not whip up thick before freezing, but it may even separate in the freezer – ending up with a layer of soft cream on top, and hard frozen milk below.

No-churn honeycomb ice cream | Hello Victoria

So I tried experimenting with some old recipes (that I had made before I got an ice cream maker) – but ended up with the problems described above. That’s when I saw a little video on Pinterest, of a recipe from Co-Op. It was a Balsamic Strawberries + Cream no-churn recipe, that used an ingredient I hadn’t considered before – yogurt! I mean, I use it to make popsicles, but never thought to try and use it in my ice cream mix. So, I made a small batch, with no strawberry or anything in it, just to see what the base flavour tasted like. And it was nice! I mean, you could definitely taste the yogurt, but it wasn’t as rich and heavy, while still being soft. I figured that if you added a strong enough flavour to it, the slight tangy yogurt taste would fade to the background, or you might not even notice it at all!

Which brings me around to this recipe! (Finally, right?)

No-churn honeycomb ice cream | Hello Victoria

Richard’s favorite ice cream in the world is Pooh-Bear (now called “Poor Bear” because of some Disney legal woes) from Maud’s Ice Cream in Northern Ireland. It’s literally one of his first stops after getting off the plane in Belfast. It’s a vanilla ice cream with chunks of honeycomb, which partially melt in, creating little ribbons of caramel and crunchy bits. And ever since I started playing around with ice cream recipes – I knew I’d have to make it for him. (more…)

How to Make Honeycomb at Home

How to make honeycomb | Hello Victoria

Honeycomb. Sea Foam. Sponge Toffee. Cinder Toffee. That-stuff-inside-a-crunchie-bar… the list of names for this stuff goes on and on. But they all mean the same thing. It’s a caramel candy that has been made light, fluffy, and full of holes through the addition of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). The baking soda adds a slightly salty taste to the caramel, hence the “sea foam” moniker, but the overall taste is caramel.

I grew up loving crunchie bars, and what I then called sea foam. I remember learning how to make it myself, and dunking it in chocolate to make my own little bite size crunchies. It looks complicated, but it’s really not – once you understand it, that is.

All you need (besides the usual things) is a candy/digital thermometer which can get up to 150°C (~300°F) and liquid glucose. Now, you’re local store (if you’re outside the UK) may not sell liquid glucose, but any specialty cooking/baking store should, and even DIY brewery places too. If you still can’t find any, substitute white corn syrup, but make sure to evaporate off the water sufficiently. It’s a similar product (both are invert sugars) but the water content tends to be higher. If you’re unsure what I mean, read on, it’ll make more sense later.

How to make honeycomb | Hello Victoria

You can find recipes out there for making honeycomb without the glucose, but this recipe is my favorite. I’ve tried a few in the past, and found that their candy instructions weren’t always adequat. They often resulted in flat soft honeycomb, or burnt tasting stuff. Which isn’t exactly ideal; I adapted this recipe from my work, until it was perfect. Just stick with me kid 😉

There are three key things for making this work well – patience, temperature, and the right container. For patience – you have to let the solution boil slowly (to evaporate off the water), instead of turning up the heat and rushing it. Candy temperatures are less about the actual temperature, and more about what they represent. Since water boils at 100°C, for a solution to climb above that, it needs to evaporate off water. The higher the temperature, the less water is present (until you hit 100% sugar and caramelization occurs). If you boil too quickly, it may read a certain temperature, but there is still too much water present. So let it boil slowly, and the temperature will climb with the reduction in water.

As for the temperature, you need an accurate thermometer. It’s one of my main faults with a lot of honeycomb recipes out there, as they use colour descriptions instead of temperatures. For honeycomb, you want to get to what is known as “hard-crack” stage. Anything below that, and your honeycomb will be too soft and chewy, and may even deflate entirely. Hard crack is between 149-154°C. I generally like to get to at least 150, to ensure it’s reached the right stage, but be careful as it’ll climb quickly once it gets past 145ish. Anything above 154°C and you’re in caramelization territory – sounds nice, but too much caramelization ends up tasting burnt. In fact, despite the fact that honeycomb is caramel in colour, we don’t actually caramelize the sugar! It’s the chemical reaction with the baking soda that creates the colour as well as the taste (and sudden increase in size).

How to make honeycomb | Hello Victoria

For the container – you want to ensure you don’t pick one too big. Having the right sized container to pour the honeycomb into will ensure it’ll stay nice and tall. I actually used one waaay too big when making this trial batch (see above). I’m used to making this recipe 8x as big, and wasn’t sure how large a pan to use. What ends up happening is that without it reaching the sides, it’ll fall quite a bit and end up sort of flat 🙁 If you put it into a nice sized container, the sides wil support it while it cools, and you’ll end up with tall chunks of light honeycomb. For this amount, I’d recommend a small square pan (like 8×8″), but maybe put some parchment paper underneath incase it overflows a tiny bit.

And that’s it! If you follow those three things (and the recipe below – obviously), you should end up with great honeycomb! I’ve taught quite a few people to make it in the past, so hopefully you’ll have no issue. Use it to make my No-Churn Honeycomb Ice Cream, coat it in chocolate, or just eat it! Just make sure to store it properly, and quickly. Honeycomb will absorb any moisture present, so if you were to make it on a rainy day, with a window open, you might not have as great success as a drier environment. Once your honeycomb is hard, break it up and store it in an airtight container. I worked at a restaurant where we would vaccuum-seal little bags of it, so that we only had to open a small amount during service. Just don’t let it sit around in the kitchen too long after you make it, or it’ll get all sticky. (Like cotton candy! That stuff practically melts if left outside…)

How to make honeycomb | Hello Victoria

It’s such a fun thing to make – the baking soda creates such an instant reaction (which is why I have no photos of it). It’s a fun thing to make with older kids, as long as they are careful. It’s like a science experiment you can eat! Yum!

Homemade Honeycomb

Ingredients

  • 134g sugar
  • 25g honey
  • 47g glucose (white corn syrup)
  • 16g water
  • 10g sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)

Instructions

  1. In a small pot over medium heat, use a whisk to combine all ingredients except for the bicarbonate*
  2. Bring to a boil, and dissolve the sugar, whisking occassionally
  3. Continue boiling, evaporating off the water, adjusting the heat so that it doesn't boil too rapidly
  4. While the mixture is boiling, sift the bicarbonate in a small bowl, and prep a small baking tray by completely lining it with parchment paper
  5. Once the sugar solution reaches 150°C (302°F), remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the bicarbonate. Make sure you whisk enough that you aren't left with pockets of baking soda, but not too long or you'll deflate it
  6. Immediately pour the honeycomb into your prepared pan, being gentle so as not to deflate the mixture. Don't be tempted to touch the surface while scraping in the last bits, or you'll end up deflating it
  7. Allow to cool (the surface will be hard) then break into small pieces and store in an airtight container

Notes

*make sure the pot isn't too small, as the baking soda reaction grows a lot!

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Laura’s Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie

Strawberry rhubarb crumble pie | Hello Victoria

Do you have recipes that you associate with a specific person? I grew up with plenty of recipes we always called by the name of the person who introduced us to it – “Heather’s Dip”, “Grandma’s Ammonia Cookies”… or in this case Laura’s strawberry rhubarb pie. So-called because it was my sister-in-law who first discovered the recipe, and introduced me to it. That, and she loves this pie, so I always think of it as hers.

So when we had a glut of rhubarb in the allotment, I could think of one thing I wanted to make with it! Well, I could think of a ton of things I wanted to make, but this was first on my list.

Strawberry rhubarb crumble pie | Hello Victoria

Strawberry rhubarb crumble pie | Hello Victoria

Pies aren’t as big here in the UK as they are in Canada and the US – most people would be quicker to make a crumble with rhubarb. Or maybe even a tart, but not pie. I, for one, love making pies as they leave so much room for creative decoration! Crumbles are good and all, but they leave little to be done artistically. Pies are sooooo much better to play with!

In this instance, I opted to make little strawberries out of excess dough, and added them to some leaves and a braided edge. I love braids on pie crusts! Even though this pie can be made with a single crust, I almost always make a double so that I have more to play with, or sometimes swap the crumble for a lattice top. I love a good lattice…

Strawberry rhubarb crumble pie | Hello Victoria

Strawberry rhubarb crumble pie | Hello Victoria

Of course, you can also make a double batch of the dough to freeze one half, and make another pie later! Since the dough recipe requires a single egg to make a double batch, it’s easier to just make the double batch than divide in two. This recipe was another one that Laura introduced me to, and I’ve used it for every pie I make, ever since. (more…)

My Perfect Scone Recipe

My perfect scone recipe | Hello Victoria

One of Richard’s childhood memories is coming home after school, to his mom making fresh scones. He would sit at their breakfast bar, with a cup of tea and a scone, and tell her about how hard his day was (he had to colour for hours 🙂 ). When I first heard that, I immediately wanted to find a great scone recipe, so I could do the same for him now. I wanted him to come home from work to fluffy, light, layered scones.

However, the first couple of recipes that I tried never lived up to their pictures. It sort of bummed me out, and I put off finding a good recipe. That is, until I was asked to make scones for someone’s wedding. That sort of put the fire under my butt that I needed!

My perfect scone recipe | Hello Victoria

My perfect scone recipe | Hello Victoria

So I decided to try Mary Berry’s recipe for classic Devonshire scones. Well, they had the same problem as the ones before, but this time, I decided to tweak them until they came out the way I wanted! Scones tend to fall into two camps – slightly dry and crumbly, or softer and layered. The first time I made this recipe, they definitely fell into the first category. And I’m not the biggest fan of the crumbly kind of scones.

My perfect scone recipe | Hello Victoria

on the left are the scones from the first attempt – and on the right are the scones after I tweaked the recipe
Then I started thinking about it – crumbly is because of a lack of gluten development. Most scone recipes tell you not to work the dough very much – just press it together a couple times and cut them out. But that’ll end up with crumbly scones. If you want them to hold together better, you’ll have to knead the dough briefly – like 10-15 turns of kneading. By working the dough a bit, you’ll end up with a softer, fluffy texture – just the way I like them! Oh, and be sure to roll them out thick! If they’re less than 1/2″ in height, then they won’t rise as much. The thicker you roll it out to, the more they’re grow! (more…)

Rhubarb + Custard Doughnuts

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

One of the best things about our allotment is that it has rhubarb. Richard and I both love rhubarb in all sorts of things – muffins, cakes, crumbles, pies… etc. (Although, we also love just plain ol’ stewed rhubarb with some yogurt.) However, sometimes it feels like we almost have too much rhubarb (I know – it’s a thing!) and I’m always looking for new ways to use it.

One of the first things that came to my mind was rhubarb doughnuts! Someone at my work had actually tried to make rhubarb and custard doughnuts before, but the acidity in the rhubarb jam he made caused the cream to curdle. Ever since then I’ve always thought that if I were to do it, I would turn the rhubarb into a curd instead, as it would prevent any curd-ling. After all, you can mix lemon curd with cream and it’s fine – and lemon is even more acidic!

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

So I went back to my tried and true recipe for crème patissière, which is the same recipe I use for making lemon curd! I simply swap the milk amount for lemon juice, and add as much zest as the amount of lemons I juice. I figured I could do the same with rhubarb purée! However, once I had stewed the rhubarb, and blitzed it – it wouldn’t press through a seive like raspberry or some other kind of puree. Too much fibre. In the end I didn’t seive it, and simply reduced the amount of cornstarch in the recipe to account for how thick the puree is to start with. I figured that the rhubarb purée was about halfway between how thin milk is, and how thick I wanted the final curd – so I halved the amount of thickener (cornstarch) to just 10g.

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

The rhubarb taste is there, but subtler than I was expecting. I’m debating trying to make these without the custard next time. I would double the amount of rhubarb puree, and just flavour the whipping cream with vanilla and fold them together. I think the flavour would be amazing – but then I love rhubarb, and it might be too strong for some. But even without the strong rhubarb flavour – these still taste great!

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

For the doughnut itself, I used the same recipe from Justin Gellatly’s book Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding, that I used in the paska doughnuts. Except, as these weren’t paska doughnuts, I used his traditional recipe with water instead of citrus juice. If you want a few tips on how to fry them, check out the paska recipe! My key tip is always to prove the doughnuts on parchment paper, rather than trying to lift them off a floured surface. You can even pre-cut the squares before shaping, so that you don’t have to try and cut around the doughnuts once proven.

When I was trying to decide how to garnish these (all doughnuts need a garnish, IMHO), I was torn between poached rhubarb, and rhubarb curls! In the end, I think the poached stuff works better, as it looks more like rhubarb at first glance. It has better colour. However, the fact that you can make ribbons out of rhubarb is always fun. 🙂 I used this recipe to make them.

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

Which garnish do you think looks better?

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

Either way, if you happen to have a glut of rhubarb from your garden, or just love doughnuts, why not try these? You could even try reducing the amount of creme patissiere in the recipe to see if the stronger flavour is better? Taste is always a personal preference. Or, you can just eat the rhubarb curd straight – ha! Pipe it into tart shells, or make a rhubarb meringue pie! Enjoy!

Rhubarb + Custard Doughnuts

Ingredients

  • Doughnut Dough:
  • 500g white bread flour (strong white)
  • 60g caster sugar (berry sugar), plus extra for coating
  • 10g salt
  • 5g instant yeast (15g fresh, 7.5 active dry*)
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 150ml water
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2ltrs neutral vegetable oil, for frying
  • Rhubarb Puree:
  • 225g rhubarb, chopped
  • 0.5 orange, zest and juice
  • 50g + 2 tsp sugar
  • 25ml lemon juice
  • 10g cornstarch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Creme Patissiere:
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 50g sugar
  • 20g cornstarch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 0.25 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (or 0.25 tsp vanilla paste/extract)
  • 250ml double cream (whipping)
  • 40g caster sugar

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the flour and yeast. In a large bowl**, combine the water, citrus zest, sugar, eggs, flour mixed with yeast, and salt (layered in that order). Using a wooden spoon, stir until the dough starts to come together, then turn out onto a clean work surface.
  2. Knead the dough at a medium pace, for about 8 minutes, being careful not to add any extra flour. This dough will be very sticky, so use a bench scraper to help you knead.
  3. Allow the dough to rest for one minute.
  4. Start kneading again, and add the butter in small amounts - kneading in each one before adding the next. Once you have added all the butter, knead at a fast pace for 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic. It'll still be very very sticky.
  5. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with cling film, and allow to prove for 1-1.5 hours. Punch the dough down, recover, and place in the fridge overnight.
  6. While the dough is resting in the fridge, make your rhubarb curd and pastry cream.
  7. Place the chopped rhubarb, orange zest, juice, and 2 tsp sugar in a bowl. Allow the rhubarb to macerate while you make the crème patissière, drawing out the water.
  8. For the pastry cream: In a medium bowl, mix together your egg yolk, cornstarch, and enough of the milk to thin it out a little.
  9. Heat the remaining milk, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan, over medium heat, until just simmering. Turn off the heat, cover, and allow to infuse for 20-30 minutes.
  10. Bring the milk back up to a low boil, and slowly pour it into the egg yolk mixture, whisking the whole time to prevent the egg cooking.
  11. Return the whole mixture to the pot, and cook over a medium heat, whisking constantly.
  12. Once the mixture begins to thicken, remove from the heat for 10 seconds, and whisk vigorously. Return to the heat and allow to come to a full boil, for 10-15 seconds - keep whisking.
  13. Strain mixture onto a large piece of cling film, and wrap to make a little pillow. Chill in the fridge until cold.
  14. For the rhubarb curd: in a small pot over low heat, cook the rhubarb mixture until soft and broken down. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and puree in a food processor.
  15. In a medium bowl, mix together your egg yolk, cornstarch, and enough of the lemon juice to thin it out a little.
  16. Heat the remaining lemon juice, rhubarb purée, and sugar in a saucepan, over medium heat to a low boil, and slowly pour it into the egg yolk mixture, whisking the whole time to prevent the egg cooking.
  17. Return the whole mixture to the pot, and cook over a medium heat, whisking constantly.
  18. Once the mixture begins to thicken, remove from the heat for 10 seconds, and whisk vigorously. Return to the heat and allow to come to a full boil, for 10-15 seconds - keep whisking.
  19. Strain mixture onto a large piece of cling film, and wrap to make a little pillow. Chill in the fridge until cold.
  20. The next day, remove the dough from the fridge, and divide into 50g pieces. You should get 20. Shape each of them on a table (you may want to lightly flour your hand) into a tight bun shape. Do this by cupping your hand over the piece, and moving your hand circles.
  21. Place the rounds on parchment lined trays, and lightly cover with cling film sprayed with cooking oil to prevent sticking. Allow to prove in a warm place for 1.5-3 hours, or until doubled in size.
  22. When the dough is almost ready, begin heating the oil in a large pot over medium heat, until the temperature reads 180°C (356°F). You will need to be very careful working with the oil (it's hot!), and try and check the temp. between each batch. Cut the parchment paper around each doughnut.
  23. Fry the doughnuts in groups of 2 or three, for about 1.5-2 minutes on each side. Place them in the oil gently, by the parchment paper, and remove it once you have flipped the doughnuts.
  24. Remove the doughnuts to a paper towel lined plate, to soak up any excess oil. While still warm, toss the doughnuts in a bowl of caster sugar.
  25. Once all the doughnuts are fried, allow them to cool while you finish the filling.
  26. Remove the pastry cream and curd from the fridge, and beat until smooth.
  27. Whip the double cream, and 40g caster sugar until stiff, then divide in two and fold each half into the rhubarb and pastry cream. Gently swirl the two together. Fill a piping bag, fitted with a small round nozzle, with the mixture, or a ziplock bag with a small hole cut in the corner.
  28. Using a paring knife, cut a small hold in the side of each of the doughnuts, to allow you to fill them.
  29. Stick your piping bag in the hole, and fill the doughnut, then pipe a small amount to cover the hole. Decorate with poached rhubarb, or whatever garnish you like!

Notes

*If using active dry yeast, you will need to warm the water to about 46°C (115°F) and allow to dissolve. If using either active dry or fresh, add to the water instead of flour. **Feel free to make in a stand mixer if you have one, using your dough hook. Simply mix on medium speed for the time shown. It's much easier to use a machine with such a sticky dough.

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Possets: The Easiest Custard You’ll Ever Make

Posset recipe | Hello Victoria

When I was studying pastry + bread making in Vancouver, our teachers introduced us to a dessert I had never heard of – the posset. Originally a thickened drink waaaay back in the day (think Shakespear), it has evolved into a set custard-like dessert which has the consistency of sour cream. Possets require only 3 ingredients, which is why they are the simplest “custards” you can make. (I use quotations on custard, as the term generally means something that has been set with eggs.) No need to worry about curdling eggs with this custard! Possets need no eggs, no gelatine, no flour… the only thing that they require to set into a velvet consistency, is acid.

Posset recipe | Hello Victoria

I could get all science-y about it, but it’s similar to how yogurt is made. Except, instead of having bacteria eating the sugars (lactose) and producing lactic acid, you add the acid yourself! The acid lowers the ph of the cream, which changes the structure of the protein strands, allowing them to hold more water. Originally, I was taught that possets require citrus to set (lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit…), but there are other fruits with a similar ph to citrus.

Posset custard recipe | Hello Victoria

My original recipe idea, was to make an orange posset, flavoured with pomegranate (mostly because I just wanted the pink/peach colour). But as I was making the first batch I was having a hard time. Possets need the citric acid to set, so I couldn’t substitute pomegranate juice for orange juice. I could only add a tablespoon or so for flavour. Now, pomegranate isn’t as strong a taste as the orange, so it wasn’t coming through. Then, as I was tasting things, I wondered to myself if the bitter pomegranate juice might be acidic? Turns out, pomegranate has a lower ph than oranges, and is closer to that of lemons! That made me realize you could use pomegranate juice all on its own!

So I went back to the store for more cream, and set about making three different possets – one solely orange, one 50/50 orange and pomegranate, and one solely pomegranate. I was curious about the different colours and flavours, and couldn’t settle on just one. The result? Well, the pomegranate one didn’t really taste of pomegranate – it’s too delicate a flavour. I used pomegranate juice though, so maybe freshly squeezed would come through? With the 50/50 one you couldn’t really taste the pomegranate, as again, it’s too delicate. The orange one was the best, as the flavour really cuts through the cream. (more…)

Portzelky: Mennonite New Year’s Cookies

Portzelky: New Years cookies recipe | Hello VictoriaWell, it’s officially 2018! And why not start the new year with some good old fashioned doughnuts? My grandma always called these New Years Küken (or “cookies”) but you may also know them as Portzelky. They are a German Mennonite favorite, always made for New Year’s day.

When I was a kid, these weren’t my favorite thing because they contained a dreaded ingredient – raisins. Not sure why, but I have always disliked raisins, especially in baked goods. You know when you pick up a cookie, thinking it’s chocolate chip, only to eat a raisin?! Worst thing ever… I can remember eating raisins out of those little red boxes as a child, and enjoying it. But now, despite my best efforts to get used to those shriveled little pockets of sadness… I just don’t like ’em.

Portzelky: New Years cookies recipe | Hello Victoria

Now that I am making my own New Year’s cookies, I can use whatever fruit I want! (Eat that, raisins!) I have always wanted to experiment with these little dougnuts, and decided to try three different flavors this year. (more…)

Coconut Pavlova with Passionfruit + Mango

Coconut pavlova with mango + passionfruit | Hello Victoria

I have always been a fan of strange things. When I was a child, I wanted nothing more than to have red hair and green eyes, because they were uncommon and would make me look unique (brown + brown = boring to little Amy). When my mom would take me to the grocery store, I would ask her to buy all of the strangest fruits. Passionfruit, grenadilla, star fruit, dragon fruit, prickly pear… you name it, I wanted to try it! And for my birthday, I didn’t want any old cake, I always wanted pavlova!

Unlike nowadays, pavlova wasn’t as common when I was a kid in Canada. My siblings always opted for things like cheesecake or chocolate torte, but I wasn’t such a fan of those. Of course, my mom made a version almost more like a traditional cake, with whipped cream icing all around, but it was pavlova all the same. Ever since then, I have been a huge fan of simple meringue bases topped with all kinds of fun and colourful fruits.

Coconut pavlova with mango + passionfruit | Hello Victoria

Pavlova is a fantastic dessert because you can top it with anything! In this instance, I chose to pick some tropical fruits that we had in the house, and one of my favorite weird ones – passionfruit. For the passionfruit, I chose to make it into a sauce with some coconut water. I had a coconut that I wanted to turn into toasted coconut flakes (for decoration) and decided not to waste the water. It’s not necessary though, so feel free to just use the passionfruit as is if you want.

The next time I make a pavlova, I’m going to try using an italian meringue, rather than a classic french meringue. I haven’t made a french meringue in a while, and kept over-whipping it (I’m just that strong). The nice thing about italian meringue is that the egg whites cook in the simple syrup as you whip it, making it the most stable meringue you can make. Finally, I just decided to add some acid to the mixture in order to make it more stable.

Coconut pavlova with mango + passionfruit | Hello Victoria

Fancy chefs whip their egg whites in copper bowls, as they create a chemical reaction that helps to prevent over-whipping. You can make a similar reaction by adding a bit of lemon juice to the egg whites, or cream of tartar. For this recipe, I added cream of tartar, but feel free to substitute a couple teapsoons of lemon juice if that’s what you have on hand. Just add the cream of tarter to a couple tablespoons of the sugar, and mix together. Add that sugar first while whipping.

The other great thing about pavlova, is that it looks pretty no matter how perfect the meringue. Even if there are cracks in the meringue, it still looks pretty. And, if you break the meringue accidentally, you can still eat it! Just call it Eton Mess, and mix all the same stuff together in a layered trifle type dessert. Although, according to Richard it’s not an Eton mess if there are fruits other than strawberries and raspberries in it. He’s British.

Coconut pavlova with mango + passionfruit | Hello Victoria

So whether you serve it broken up, as one large meringue, or as the individual ones here, give pavlova a try! Who doesn’t like fresh fruit, cream, and copious amounts of sugar?

Coconut Pavlova with Passionfruit + Mango

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

Yield: 4 individual meringues

Ingredients

  • 150g egg whites
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 75ml coconut water
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3-4 passionfruits, seeds removed
  • 1-2 mangos, cubed
  • 500ml double (whipping) cream
  • toasted coconut flakes, optional

Instructions

  1. First, make the pavlovas. Preheat the oven to 100 degrees Celsius and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix together the cream of tartar with a couple tablespoons of the 300g of caster sugar. Whip the egg whites until foamy, and soft peaks are beginning to form.
  3. Sprinkle over the sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, beginning with the cream of tartar sugar. Continue to whip the egg whites and sugar until stiff, glossy peaks form. Be careful not to overwhip.
  4. Gently fold in the coconut and divide into four mounds on the parchment paper. Using a spoon, create little depressions in each meringue for the cream.
  5. Bake in the peheated oven for 1 hour, 25 minutes. Turn off the oven, and allow to cool to room temperature.
  6. To make the passionfruit sauce, stir together the 150g sugar and coconut water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, and stir in the passionfruit seeds.
  7. Shortly before you're ready to serve, whip the cream to medium peaks and mound on the meringue shells. Add the mango cubes on top, the coconut flakes (if using), and the passionfruit sauce.
  8. Enjoy!
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Damson and Frangipane Tart

Damson and frangipane tart recipe | Hello Victoria

As I mentioned in the lemon tart recipe post, one of my favorite cookbooks is by the Bouchon Bakery. It contains a recipe for a plum tart that uses a wonderful pâte sucrée crust, and frangipane filling. I made it before as a thank you for some plums I was gifted, and have loved the combination ever since. Frangipane works well as a base for almost any fruit, especially stone fruit. So when we were given a load of damson a week ago, it was the first recipe I wanted to try.

Damson tart with frangipane | Hello Victoria

Damson tart with frangipane | Hello Victoria

Now, a word of warning here. Unless you’re a masochist for baking (like me!), I won’t recommend making a damson tart. Instead, use any larger plum, or even nectarines, or peaches. The amount of wedges you need to cut from the tiny damsons is ridiculous, and takes ages. However, if you’re like me, and have more damsons than you can eat (and a lot of free time), why not? (more…)