There’s nothing quite like the scent of ripe strawberries in summer. This Eton mess chocolate cake makes the most of this delectable bright red summer fruit. Two layers of chocolate cake are sandwiched and topped with lots of strawberries, cream and meringue. It’s perfect for birthday parties, celebrations or any alfresco occasion which requires cake.
Oh wow, I can’t believe it took me so long to try the pear and almond dark chocolate that I was sent some months ago by Elizabeth Shaw. The blackberry and ginger was good, but this is one I can see becoming a regular. I have a penchant for almond chocolate anyway; this one has the wonderful crunch of almond slivers and a faint yet perceptible pear flavour which was a surprisingly good combination. The dark chocolate is mild giving richness without bitterness. I used most of the bar to make these tortes. Sadly I only left 20g of it to enjoy as was intended and enjoy it I did.
|Chocolate Roasted Rhubarb Pavlova with Rhubarb Curd|
Last weekend my mother turned up with a lovely bunch of rhubarb from her garden. Rhubarb used to flourish on our allotment and we had a big glut every year. Since moving down to our plot on the field, however, rhubarb has persistently refused to grow and I really miss it. One of the things I used to make was rhubarb curd and I had a sudden yearning to make some again. However, as this was back in pre-blog days, I couldn’t remember exactly how I made it or what recipe I used, so I cobbled something together with a little help from Belleau Kitchen. My yearning was partially stimulated by a desire to make chocolate meringues and top them with rhubarb curd in a grand vision I had for chocolate and rhubarb pavlovas. For the chocolate meringues, I again did my own thing using the Riverford Farm Cook Book as my initial inspiration.
This is what I did to make:
- Separated 3 large duck eggs and whisked the whites in a large clean bowl until foamy, reserving the yolks for the curd.
- Added a pinch of cream of tarter and whisked until soft peaks had formed.
- Added 200g vanilla sugar (golden caster) a spoonful at a time, whisking in between each one.
- Sieved in 3 teaspoons of arrowroot (I generally use this instead of cornflour as it has similar properties and is said to be beneficial).
- Sieved in 4 teaspoons of cocoa powder and whisked until stiff peaks had formed.
- Spooned the mixture onto lined baking trays to form eight circles, leaving plenty of space in between each one (just as well I did as the meringues virtually doubled in size).
- Formed into nest shapes. leaving a large indentation in the middle.
- Sprinkled a little cocoa powder over each one.
- Baked at 150C for 10 minutes, then at 125C for a further hour. Switched off the oven and left the meringues inside until cold.
Meanwhile I made:
Rhubarb & Elderflower Curd
|Rhubarb & Elderflower Curd|
- Chopped 400g of already trimmed rhubarb stalks into chunks.
- Put them in a pan with 2 tbsp elderflower cordial and simmered until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Used a stick blender to puree.
- Mixed the 3 egg yolks in a bowl with 100g vanilla sugar (golden caster).
- Placed over a pan of simmering water and stirred – I didn’t want it so hot that I got scrambled eggs.
- Added the hot rhubarb puree and continued to stir.
- After about 10 minutes of regular (but not continuous) stirring, added 50g unsalted butter.
- Stirred for another 5 minutes or so, until the mixture had thickened.
- Poured into sterilised jars & sealed.
|Rhubarb Roasted with Elderflower Cordial|
- Cut 200g of already trimmed rhubarb sticks into finger sized lengths.
- Cut this into batons lengthways.
- Placed in an ovenproof dish together with 1 tbsp elderflower cordial.
- Sprinkled with 1 tbsp of vanilla sugar (golden caster).
- Roasted at 200C for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb was soft but still held its shape.
Mini Chocolate and Rhubarb Pavlovas
- Spooned a tbsp of rhubarb curd onto a meringue.
- Topped with a teaspoon of clotted cream.
- Decorated with fingers of roasted rhubarb in what was meant to be an arty, chefy sort of way.
|Chocolate & Rhubarb Pavlova|
Mini Pavlovas is something of a misnomer; they actually ended up being rather large. The grand vision I had didn’t exactly come to pass, but goodness gracious, the pavlovas were scrummy. The combination of zingy rhubarb curd with chocolate meringues complemented each other perfectly. The contrasting textures of smooth and crunchy added to the overall enjoyment. The rhubarb curd was delicious in it’s own right and I was really pleased with the lovely orange colour it turned into; I was thinking it might just come out as a rather unlovely muddy brown.
I am sending this off to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays where anything submitted must be made entirely from scratch.
As rhubarb is still in season, I am also entering this into Simple and in Season with Ren Behan.
The rhubarb was home grown, making this summery dessert inexpensive, so fitting nicely into the Credit Crunch Munch remit with Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours. This month’s event is hosted by Anneli of Delicieux.
The inclusion of elderflower cordial, made with my own fair hands, using foraged elderflowers means I am also entering these to Herbs on Saturday with Karen over at Lavender and Lovage.
These mini Pavlovas are perfect for al fresco eating in the lovely weather we are currently experiencing. I am thus submitting these to a new monthly blogging challenge from Delicieux and Chez Foti, Four Seasons Food. This month’s theme is Picnic food and Outdoor Nibbles.
I forgot to check what the letter is for Alpha Bakes this month, but have just done so and fortuitously it is R. So I am entering my R for Rhubarb to The More Than Occasional Baker who is hosting this month. Caroline Makes hosts alternately.
Well I haven’t managed to enter the Forever Nigella Event, the brain child of Sarah from Maison Cupcake, for a couple of months, so I thought it was about time I did. The theme this month chosen by Arthi at Soul Curry is Iced Dreams. I don’t have an ice-cream maker. Making it by hand conjures up not so fond memories of lots of beating, in and out of the freezer and then ending up with ice crystals anyway. So the idea of ice-cream didn’t really appeal. However, looking through my trusted copy of How to Be a Domestic Goddess, I came across a recipe for Chestnut Ice-Cream Meringue Cake and no churning was needed. Lush, rich and sumptuous, this seemed a very apt dessert for a Nigella challenge. As it happened, when I went to put the finished cake in the freezer, I realised I had no room anyway. That was fine, it went into the fridge instead and became a chilled cake, which, luckily for me is permitted. As usual, I ended up doing something a little different to the actual recipe: first off, I only made half the amount – I didn’t want to make it too sweet so used less sugar than stated, I added a bit of cocoa and used creme fraiche rather than cream. I also used cardamom sugar so omitted the vanilla.
This is what I did:
- Whisked 3 egg whites until the soft peak stage.
- Gradually whisked in 120g of cardamom sugar (caster sugar) until the mixture was stiff.
- Whisked in 1 tbsp cocoa.
- Stirred in 1 tsp cider vinegar.
- Lined 2 baking trays with baking parchment and drew 3 saucer sized circles – about 15 cm (which spread to about 17 cm when cooked) on the parchment, only just managing to squeeze two onto one sheet.
- Divided the mixture between the three circles and spread to fill them.
- Baked at 150C for 30 minutes then turned the oven down to 100C for a further 35 minutes.
- Turned the oven off and left in until cold.
- Beat 1/2 a can of sweetened chestnut puree (about 220g) with 2 tbsp of rum and 40g icing sugar until smooth.
- Stirred in 300ml creme fraiche (home made).
- Placed a meringue circle on a plate and spread with 1/3 of the chestnut cream.
- Topped this with another meringue circle and spread with another 1/3 of the cream.
- Topped with the final meringue and spread the last 1/3 of cream over the top.
- Shaved about 10g of 35% milk chocolate over the top to decorate.
- Placed in the fridge to set and chill (about 4 hours).
The finished cake tasted heady and ambrosial with the tropical rum flavour very much to the fore. It was rich and creamy. This made a good contrast to the crunchy meringue layers. CT summed it up with one word – delicious! Sliced into eight pieces, one slice was certainly enough. There was one downside though, as illustrated in this picture: after the first slice the crunch disappeared from the meringues as the moist mixture was slowly absorbed. I guess this wouldn’t have happened if I’d been able to freeze it as instructed. Served immediately as a dinner party dessert, this would have been superb.
As a result of making some hollandaise sauce one night to go with some delicious Cornish asparagus (sadly not our own – yet), I had a couple of egg whites knocking around in the fridge that needed using up. I also had a rose which was just about to open – a beautiful deep red scented rose that was going to have the elegance bashed out of it by the high winds we were experiencing that day. My mind went back to a party I’d hosted a few years ago when I’d made rose meringues to much adulation and applause (well perhaps only the latter). Brilliant, I’d make those.
Could I find the recipe anywhere? No, of course not. Oh well, it shouldn’t be that difficult to work out I thought. And actually it wasn’t. I was rather surprised though to find the egg whites went blue rather than pink when I added the rose petals. I’m a bit cross with myself for not taking a picture at this stage, because it was such an unusual colour. In fact I’d just read a post by Johanna GGG all about blue foods or the lack of them that very morning. I shouldn’t have been surprised because remembering back, the very same thing had happened the last time. Egg whites must be quite alkaline I guess. To my disappointment, the meringues lost their blueness in the oven.
- Whizzed the rose petals (having removed the bitter bases) in a food processor with 100g granulated sugar until they were finely chopped and the sugar had turned a deep pink.
- Whisked the egg whites until firm.
- Continued to whisk adding the sugar spoonful by spoonful until the mixture was stiff.
- Dropped spoonfuls onto a lined baking sheet and baked for 1 hour at 125C.
- Left to cool on a wire rack.
- Added 1 tsp rose water to 100ml double cream and whipped until softly peaked.
- Stirred in 120g 0% fat Greek yogurt.
- Grated 50ml white chocolate (G&B) using my new grater. This time I more sensibly used a bowl whose rim fitted under the grater and I didn’t lose any of the gratings at all.
- Stirred this into the cream and sandwiched the meringues together with it.
- If I was into dainty, I could have made twice as many as I did, but as you can see I went for 4 doorsteps instead leaving me with one half left over to try out as cook’s treat (as if I didn’t get enough treats).
The meringues had a lovely subtle rose flavour to them. They were crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle, which is just how I like them. The tartness of the yogurt offset the sweetness of the meringues and to be honest, I’m not really sure what the white chocolate brought along. I’d added just the right amount of rose water for the cream to echo the taste of rose in the meringues without being overwhelming or too sickly. At least I now have a recipe for the next time I’m inspired to make rose meringues!
Some of my posts are so old now, I almost feel I should wait until next year to publish them. This one I made about seven weeks ago, when strawberries (remember them?) were still just about in season. I had been given Dan Lepard’s recipe for Chocolate Honey Meringue by a friend, who kindly cuts out any chocolate recipes she comes across in the Guardian for me. Said friend was coming to dinner, so wouldn’t it be a good idea to make this meringue? When I looked at the recipe properly, however, there seemed to be an awful lot of sugar in it. I’d also read on other blogs that they turned out rather hard and they weren’t that impressed. A meringue recipe, I would have to find elsewhere. I did a quick hunt through my books and discovered marbled chocolate meringues in Linda Collister’s Divine. This was more like it. Instead of making lots of small ones, I opted for one large pavlova style meringue.
As it was rather a long time ago now, this is what I think I did!
- Melted 100g 70% dark chocolate in a bowl over hot water, then left to cool.
- Whisked 3 eggs whites and a pinch of cream of tarter until stiff.
- Added 175g caster sugar and whisked until stiff and glossy.
- Using a tablespoon, slowly folded in the chocolate until a marble effect was created.
- Heaped the meringue onto a baking sheet covered in non-stick paper and smoothed out into a rough round.
- Scattered over a handful of slivered almonds.
- Baked at 120C for 2 hours.
- Left to cool, then removed from the tray and peeled off the paper.
- Whisked 200ml double cream until thick.
- Stirred several raspberries into the cream (quantities now forgotten).
- At this point, I realised that the meringue had risen up with a very thin top layer that wouldn’t bear any weight – oh bother!
- As soon as I pressed it slightly the top started to break up. So I took this top layer off.
- Spooned the raspberries and cream on top of what was left of the meringue.
- Covered the cream with de-hulled and quartered strawberries and a few more raspberries.
- Covered the fruit with the bits of meringue top that I had previously removed.
Perhaps this was not the most elegant of party pieces, but I have to say it is one of the most delicious desserts I’ve made – certainly in recent times. I do love meringue and cream. It had a lovely crisp crunch from the outside and was darkly chocolatey and sticky inside. The sharp fruit and the sweet meringue hit the palate first, then the richness of the cream and chocolate came through giving a real sense of decadent luxury – yum. If someone wanted to make me a pudding (if only), this is the one I would choose. I think the others enjoyed it too 🙂