Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Passionate Dessert

I had the good fortune of being gifted with a whole bag of passionfruit. A friend has several plantings and has offered in the past, but I was just never sure what to do with them. I mean, we drink POG when in tropical climates, but other than that, we just don’t run across passionfruit very often. And to be honest, it’s a bit ugly – and has a hard shell that feels a bit hollow. (Very deceiving, given its tasty insides).

The first thing that came to mind is the classic pavlova. This meringue-based dessert originated in New Zealand (or possibly Australia) back in the 1920s as an homage to the ballerina, Anna Pavlova. True to its origins, it is covered in fruits readily available in that part of the world: passionfruit, kiwi and strawberry. It’s then topped with whipped cream…of course.

The nice thing about a pavlova is that it is easy to make and doesn’t require any fancy ingredients or pans. It takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and then it’s all about the baking time. To achieve that nice light crisp crust with a soft center, the pavlova bakes for 1.5 hours at 200 degrees and then you turn the oven off, letting it further dry out for another 1.5 hours.

I chose to make individual pavlovas, rather than one large dessert. Pavolvas don’t cut and serve particularly nicely, so doing smaller individual meringues achieves a nicer presentation.  They turned out beautifully and tasted as good as they looked. The crunch of the sugary meringue, the sweet/tart flavor of the passionfruit, with the barely sweetened whipped cream on top. Everyone agreed it was blog-worthy (and worth making again! And again!).

So keep your eyes out for passionfruit in the market and give this a try. It’s a refreshing and light summer dessert.

NOTE: You can top your pavlovas with other types of fruit. In fact, berries work particularly well and are in season right now.

Passionfruit Pavlova

4 large egg whites, at room temp
pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. If making a single pavlova, draw an 8-inch circle on a piece of parchment. For individual pavlovas, draw four 4-inch circles. Place on baking sheet and set aside.

Beat egg whites (preferably with whisk attachment) with the pinch of salt on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Begin adding sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating the egg whites. You’re looking for stiff, glossy peaks.

Sprinkle in the cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla extract. Whisk until all are incorporated.

For a single pavolva, use a spatula to mound the meringue onto the parchment. Spread it out evenly to edges. For individual meringues, a tablespoon works a bit better, or you can use a piping bag with a large round tip.

Place  your baking tray in the oven and reduce the temperature to 200 degrees. Cook for 1.5 hours or until meringue lifts off the parchment easily. Turn off the oven and leave for another 1.5 hours.

To serve: scoop the pulp out of the passionfruit and pour over top of the pavlova(s). Top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Serves: 4 

*I used 8 passionfruit for the 4 individual pavlovas. You can cut down on this if using multiple types of fruit

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hoarding Disorder Leads to Apple Cream Torte

I’ve got a confession to make: I’ve been hoarding recipes. I know…the horror of it. It’s kind of an obsession. I cut them out of magazines, request them from friends, and spend way too much time saving them on Pinterest. And then they just sit there. Or I file them into folders to use at a later date. Or I make them and forget to share them with you. Any way you look at it, I’ve been a bad blogger, remiss in providing you with new and yummy recipes.

I’m striving to be better about both the hoarding and the writing. If I cut, Pin, or request a recipe, I am going to try to make it right away and share (if it is share-worthy). That should help my hoarding disorder and my lack-of-writing disorder.

So, in turning over this new leaf, I am sharing a recipe I snipped out of the September issue of Sunset. Perfect for Fall, it was terribly simple to make and you probably have most, if not all, of the ingredients in your house already.

I served this yummy torte at our weekly family Sunday dinner. But Butcher Son was too full last night and ate it this morning for breakfast. I also think it is the perfect afternoon snack with a cup of tea. So, really, you can eat this treat any old time.

It is moist, almost custardy, and not too sweet. It looks like you carefully layered apples with the cake
batter, but it takes no such effort. This is definitely worth the 10 minutes it takes to make and you really need no special skills or tools. The recipe does call for a 9-inch springform pan, but I used an 8-inch without incident, and you could probably use any high-sided cake pan – round or square or oblong. And it also wants you to use a whisk attachment to your mixer. But unless you own a KitchenAid or similar high-end mixer, you probably don’t have a whisk attachment – just use your hand-held mixer and make sure you get the egg/sugar batter nice and thick.

So, head down to the farmer’s market, pick up some tasty Fall apples and get cooking.

Apple Cream Torte

1 ½ pounds  (3-4) apples (Cameo, Gala, and Fuji work best)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Powdered Sugar

Preheat oven to 325°. Butter and generously flour a 9-inch springform pan. Shake out excess flour and set aside.

Using a paring knife or sharp corer, core apples from stem down through seeds and base to remove in one cylinder. Peel apples and slice crosswise into 1/4-inch rings. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a mixer with whisk attachment, beat eggs and granulated sugar on high speed until pale and slightly thickened, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add cream and vanilla. Beat about 30 seconds more to blend.

Add flour, baking powder, and salt and blend on low speed until evenly combined.

Now, add  the apples (including any uneven end pieces) to batter and stir gently with a spatula to coat each one with batter, separating the slices. Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and arrange apples flat with a spoon or your fingers.

Bake until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into center of cake (rather than an apple piece) comes out clean, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Let the cake cool on a rack for 20 minutes, then run a slender knife between the edge of the cake and the pan. Remove pan rim and cool cake at least 10 minutes more.

Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with powdered sugar.

Serves 8-10