pavlova bites with rose scented cream and pomegranate

Perfect little treats for afternoon tea

Pavlova is one of those desserts that never fails to please, young and old alike. A sweet that has been high on my dessert menu since I was a child and I can’t even begin to think of how many egg whites I have whisked up over the years! My mother always made pavlova  for her dinner parties and as kids we would eagerly wait for the return of the pavlova from the dining room, hoping that some would be left…most of the time, none! However,  pavlova was made on many other occasions, much to our delight. When my children come back from university for the holidays, pavlova is always one of their requests.

This pavlova post is part of the Great Australian Pavlova Blog Hop.  As I have been making this dessert for many years and have tried recipes with the addition of cornflour (keeping the center soft), vinegar, pinches of salt or cream of tartar (stabilization), I have come to the conclusion that… I can make a successful pavlova (crisp on the outside and marshmallowy in the middle) with just the egg whites and sugar… it works for me!

Pavlova Bites with Rose Scented Cream and Pomegranate

Ingredients:

  • 2  large egg whites
  • 110g castor sugar

for the topping:

  • 150ml of whipping cream
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of rose-water (or more to taste)
  • 2 pomegranate, kernels removed
  • edible glitter
  • 12 silver degrees
Useful Kitchen Jewellery:
  • electric whisk
  • baking tray
  • kitchen weighing scales
  • mixing bowl
  • sieve
  • spatula

How to make:

Preheat the oven to 275F/Gas mark 1/130C Fan.

With a pencil or marker draw 12  2” inch circles onto baking parchment and lay (marked side down) onto a lightly greased baking tray.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric whisk on high-speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the castor sugar a little at a time (heaped tablespoon) and continue to whisk until all the sugar has been incorporated and dissolved with the egg white. After about 10 minutes whisking, the mixture should be smooth, shiny and holds very firm points on the whisk when you lift it out of the mixture.

Either spoon or pipe ( piping bag with a plain nozzle) the mixture onto the traced circles, using a palette knife to level the top and smooth the sides.

Place the baking tray into the oven and bake for about 1-1/4 hours or until the pavlovas feel dry to touch and peel easily from the baking parchment. Turn off the oven and let the baked pavlova sit for a further 15 minutes in the oven with the door propped open with the handle of a wooden spoon. Remove the pavlovas from the oven and leave to cool completely on wire cooling racks. Some may crack, do not  worry as it only adds to their charm.

make ahead

Once cooled they can be placed into an airtight container and stored in the fridge for a couple of days before topping with cream and fruit.

assembling the pavlova

A few hours before serving, pour the cream into a bowl and sieve in the icing sugar. Using an electric whisk, whisk the cream until it holds soft peaks. Add the rose-water, folding into the cream using a spatula. Top each mini pavlova with some cream and scatter over the pomegranate seeds. Place a silver degrees on top and dust over some edible glitter. Cover and place in the fridge until needed.

tips for a successful pavlova

  • Use room temperature egg whites
  • Make sure the bowl and whisk are free from any form of grease or the egg whites will not whisk successfully
  • Do not let any part of the yolk enter into the whites or the egg whites will not whisk successfully.
  • Use castor sugar, not granulated.
  • Check your oven is at the correct temperature using an oven thermometer.

pumpkin ice cream

Because the genetic history of the pumpkin is intertwined with the squash I thought I would use pureed butternut squash.  Saying “butternut squash ice cream” does seem like such a mouthful…so pumpkin ice cream it is! You can of course use canned unsweetened pumpkin if you like. Butternut squash has a sweet nutty taste and when blended together with some warm spices makes this a festive type of ice cream. As this is a custard based ice cream using free range eggs is my choice. So if you are a pumpkin fan…start churning!

Ingredients:

  • 225g  prepared butternut squash or canned pumpkin
  • 600ml whipping cream
  • 175g soft brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice (see note below)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon Kahlua (optional)
  • for garnish, 50g chopped walnuts (optional)

for the butternut puree

Peel the skin from one large butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes and steam for about 20 minutes or until tender. Pass through a food mill with a medium blade or place in a food processor and process until pureed. Put the pureed butternut squash into a sieve and place over a bowl, letting some of its water drain, about 45 minutes.

for the custard

Place a saucepan over medium heat, pour in the cream, add the brown sugar and pumpkin spice mix.  Stir to dissolve the sugar, heating the cream until bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Meanwhile, in a bowl whisk the egg yolks and Kahlua (if using) until smooth. Remove the mixture from the heat and gradually but slowly whisk into the egg yolks until combined.

Place the bowl with the mixture over a saucepan of simmering water. Stirring constantly, cook until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (about 8 minutes) and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it. Do not let the mixture boil at any stage or it will curdle. Remove for the heat and cool, stirring occasionally to stop a skin forming.

Combine the pureed butternut squash or canned pumpkin, vanilla extract and Kahlua (if using) with the cooled mixture. Transfer the mixture to an ice-cream machine and churn according to the manufactures instructions usually 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the churned ice-cream to a freeze safe container, cover and freeze for about 2 or three hours until firm before serving.

Storage: This ice cream can be made a couple of days in advance. By placing  some cling film directly on the surface of the firmed ice cream and covering with a lid helps preserve its fresh taste. Home-made ice-cream will set very hard so I always place the container in the fridge for about 15 to 20 minutes to soften before using an ice-cream scoop.

 Pumpkin Spice Mix

 An electric spice or coffee grinder which is reserved especially for the job of grinding my spices and making up small batches at a time keeps the rich flavour of the spices at their freshest.

  • 1 teaspoon  ground allspice                        1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon         or         1 inch piece  of cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon ground  nutmeg                         4 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger                            1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 pinches of ground cloves                          1 teaspoon ground ginger

If using ground spices:Mix all the ground spices together and store in a small airtight container.

If using whole spices: Grind the allspice, cinnamon and cloves in an electric spice or  coffee grinder, then mix together with the nutmeg and ginger. Store in a small airtight container.

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churning your own ice cream!

Having my own ice cream machine has given me much more flexibility when making different types of ice creams and frozen ices. Without the machine, the method of hand stirring and still freezing ice cream was very time-consuming with some recipes. Home-made ice cream without all the additives is a big plus. Children love to cook and I know that making their own ice cream will be a big hit with them… it was with mine!

Rock salt and ice used in the freezing process of ice cream

Some years ago I decided to buy my first ice cream machine and the only one I could find at the time was the type requiring rock salt and ice which you had to layer around the inside container of the machine, chilling and freezing the mixture inside while being churned … at least the churn was electric and not hand-cranked!

Crushing and layering the ice was a bit of a hassle plus keeping an eye on the salt and ice levels (living in a hot climate) posed another challenge. Over time, excitement and enthusiasm of making home-made ice cream began to melt away (pun intended) and the machine ended up in the store-room gathering dust…eventually given away.

Churning the ice-cream with an electric paddle helps break up the ice crystals and incorporates air, resulting in a lighter and smoother ice cream

When traveling, visiting kitchen shops are always high on my list… so it wasn’t  long before I had a new ice cream machine wrapped snugly inside my suitcase… bound for Bahrain .

The freeze bowl type with the  electric churn is the most popular and the one I use, light in weight and taking up very little space on my kitchen worktop. The bowl houses a special liquid freezing solution (hurray no ice and salt) insulated inside its walls which then needs to be placed for a minimum of 10  hours (depending on model) in the freezer before use. Before buying you might want to check that your freezer, especially drawer types can accommodate the size of the bowl.

Make sure when drying the bowl that you use a lint free cloth,  taking care to dry all the little nooks, if they get blocked with ice the motor head will not attach properly, plus chipping the ice away may damage your bowl.

Tip:  After making a batch of ice cream I always return the bowl (washed and dried) back to the freezer compartment where it is stored all the time, making it always available for use.

The larger and more expensive ice cream machines contain their own freezer unit and work independently. The big advantage is that they can churn out one batch of ice cream after another. Heavy and taking up a much bigger space on a kitchen worktop.

Other uses: Need to chill a bottle of wine fast…use the freeze bowl!

Pumpkin Ice Cream coming up …!

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