Mary Berry’s Christmas Pavlova
Mary Berry’s Christmas Pavlova is truly a holiday show stopper. While I am not a huge watcher of cooking shows, I enjoy watching The Great British Bake Off. It is a friendly and fun competition. Not like the cooking competition shows in the US where they are cut-throat with yelling and meanness rule. That is not my thing. I like niceness and kindness. Any way back to the pavlova, I saw this on the Master Class program where Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood create desserts by showing you how to make them. The Christmas program was my favorite. A couple recipes I want to try and this was one of them.
I was intimidated by this recipe at first. I have never made a pavlova; however, in Ireland they are a very common dessert. My Auntie Carmel is known to make a pretty amazing one. The recipe is using British ingredients with American English equivalents and measurements. I purchased vanilla bean paste and caster sugar through Amazon. I only converted the oven temps from celsius to fahrenheit. When baking, I am finding it is better to weigh your ingredients than using cups. Baking is more science than art. It is worth investing in scale that does grams and ounces.
Mary Berry’s Christmas Pavlova
- For the pavlova
- - 6 large egg whites
- - 350g/12oz caster sugar or super fine sugar
- - 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- - 1 tsp cornflour (corn starch)
- For the filling
- - 600ml/20fl oz double cream or whipping cream
- - 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- - 50g/1¾oz icing sugar or powdered sugar, sifted
- - 200g/7oz strawberries, hulled and quartered
- - 300g/10½oz raspberries
- - 200g/7oz blueberries
- - a few mint leaves, to decorate (optional)
- - icing sugar or powdered sugar, for dusting
- - Preheat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/Gas 3 or 285F.
- - Line a large baking tray with baking parchment and draw a 30cm/12in circle in the middle of the paper.
- - Put the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl and whisk with an electric whisk until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed.
- - Gradually add the sugar a little at a time, whisking on maximum speed until they are stiff and glossy.
- - Mix the vinegar and cornflour in a cup until smooth, then stir into the egg whites.
- - Spoon the meringue onto the ring drawn on the baking parchment.
- - Using a large spoon make a shallow trench in the meringue for the cream and fruit to sit in.
- - Transfer to the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 140C/120C Fan/Gas 1 or 250F. - --- Bake for 1 hour–1 hour 15 minutes, until the outside is hard but still white.
- - Turn the oven off and leave the pavlova inside for an hour or overnight to cool and dry.
- - To assemble, whip the cream, vanilla paste and icing sugar until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed.
- - Spoon the cream into the trench in the meringue.
- - Arrange the strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and pomegranate on top and decorate with a few mint leaves, if using.
- - To serve, dust with icing sugar and cut into wedges.
A Dutch Treat of Speculaas Cookies for Sinter Klaas
While you can buy Speculaas cookies at many grocery stores in the US now, there is something about making them at home. It makes it special. Speculaas are Dutch spice cookies that are flavorful, but not overly sweet. They are served at coffee time, but work anytime of day with any warm beverage.
The cookies are known by their unique sizes and patterns. The traditional way is using wooden molds. We have ours from The Netherlands. Different patterns and sizes.
We have jar full of Speculaas spice from The Netherlands. The spice mix is usually cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, white pepper, aniseed powder, and cardamom ground. Over the years we have made speculaas once. This year decided that I would try to make them. For those who know me, I am not a cookie baker. I try, but cookies never seem to work out for me. The recipe is from King Arthur Flour. I was able to de-mold the cookie dough after a few tries; however, it didn’t keep the pattern on the cookie. Bummer. It tasted great, but didn’t look like a speculaas cookie.
Dutch Speculaas Cookies Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tablespoons speculaas spice; or 3 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon clove, 1/8 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon white pepper, 1/8 teaspoon aniseed powder, and 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- In a small bowl, combine the flours and baking soda. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the butter, sugar, vanilla, spice, and salt. Add the egg and mix until well blended. Stir in the flour mixture.
- Form the dough into two disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 2 hours or more.
- Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
- Working with one disk at a time, roll the dough 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick.
- To cut out cookies: Use any shape cookie cutter to cut out shapes.
- Flour wooden molds and press dough in molds trimming extra.
- Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets and freeze for at least 30 minutes; this helps the cookies retain their shape while baking.
- Fifteen minutes before baking the cookies, preheat the oven to 300°F.
- Bake the cookies for 25 to 30 minutes, until they’re light gold around the edges. Remove them from the oven, and cool them right on the pan.
The Ugliest Black Forrest Roll Cake Ever
Yes, this is the ugliest Black Forrest Roll Cake ever. In my defense, it was my first time making a jelly roll cake. The whole roll party is what did me in. Let’s just say I won’t winning any bake-off. Mary and Paul would have plenty to say about my roll, but they would like the taste of it. It looks heavy, but the cake and filling is quite light and tender.
Black Forrest Roll Cake Recipe
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoon water
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 can cherry pie filling
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips chopped finely
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray jelly roll pan then line with parchment paper. Spray the top of the parchment.
- Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
- In a large bowl, beat eggs at high speed until very light in color.
- Gradually add sugar, beating until thick.
- In another small bowl, combine the cocoa powder with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil; adding a second with the goal of consistency of melted chocolate.
- Blend in cocoa mixture and water until combined well.
- Add cocoa mixture to sugar and egg mixture.
- Then add dry ingredients beating until combined.
- Spread in prepared jelly roll pan and bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
- Loosen edges and turn cake out immediately onto a large tea towel, generously dusted with confectioners sugar.
- Remove wax paper and trim any crisp edges.
- Beginning with the narrow end, roll up cake, with towel loosely.
- Cool to room temperature.
- Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form.
- Slowly add in powdered sugar and beat to stiff peaks.
- Evenly separate whipped cream into two bowls.
- In one bowl, fold in the cherry pie filling to the whipped cream.
- Carefully re roll the cake, placing seam side down on a serving platter.
- Frost with remaining whipped cream
- Sprinkle evenly with shaved chocolate.
- Refrigerate 1-2 hrs before serving. Keep refrigerated.
The Decadent Croissant Chocolate Bread Pudding
If you are on a diet then look away now. This croissant chocolate bread pudding will ruin all of your good intentions in one fork full of its richness. The one saving grace is it is so rich that you can not eat more than a small square.
Bread pudding is a comfort dessert. Bread puddings are be simple and humble or over the top decadent like this recipe using chocolate and croissants. The origins of bread pudding I can imagine was out of being frugal and not wanting to waste stale bread using ingredients on hand to make a sweet and satisfying warm treat on a cold winter’s day.
This recipe is luxurious, yet the ingredient list is simple. It is the combination that makes so rich. Nine ingredients is all you need to make this bread pudding such as milk, cream, eggs, croissants, sugar, and chocolate chips. Do not cut corners on this recipe by using low fat options. Just embrace it and enjoy it. It is not like you will make and eat this bread pudding every day or every week.
It is perfect for dessert after a roast, stew, or soup. Or it can be the sweet dish to compliment a savory brunch egg dish like sausage egg cheese casserole.
What is your favorite bread pudding?
Croissant Chocolate Bread Pudding Recipe
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 6 croissants, roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped chocolate chips
- Heat oven to 375° F.
- Butter or spray a shallow 2-quart baking dish.
- Whisk together the egg yolks, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl.
- Add the croissants and chocolate and mix to combine.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and bake until set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean in 40 minutes.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
The Best Apple Tart
OK, maybe not. I am better sure some pastry shops in Europe can make a tasty apple tart. In my house, we tend to think this apple tart recipe is the best in the world and could stand proudly next to any fancy pastry shop’s offering.
All pastries do not have to be hard. Like this recipe, it is easy to make, but looks amazing. It is not difficult to make. Simple ingredients make for a great tart. Apples are the key ingredient. I use whatever apples I have in my fruit bowl and that is usually Gala. You could use Granny Smith or a combination of apples. My goal is to keep things simple and not sweat about ingredients. If you do not have apples, but peaches or pears then use them. It is all good. The simple pressed dough of butter, sugar, egg, baking powder, and flour accepts whatever you arrange on the top of it. The apricot jam glaze brings it all together and gives it a nice finished shine.
You must serve this with freshly made whipped cream. Nothing out of a can or tub will do. It has to be the real deal. Whipped is easy to do. Heavy cream and sugar. That’s it. Whip it until firm. Once you have it then you will always make the good stuff again.
Apple Tart Recipe
- 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature or melted
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for your fingers
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons
- 1 large egg
- 2 to 3 apples, peeled, cored, halved, then sliced thinly
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup apricot jam
- Juice from one lemon
- whipped cream
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Butter tart pan and set aside.
- Combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and 1/2 cup sugar at high speed in a large bowl.
- Lower speed to medium, add the egg, and beat until incorporated.
- Gradually add the flour mixture until fully incorporated. The dough will be very soft.
- Push the dough into the pan with floured fingers to form an even crust.
- Arrange the apples in circle or a design.
- Sprinkle with the cinnamon and the remaining sugar.
- Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes; let cool.
- Heat the apricot jam and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, mixing until combined.
- Remove from heat and brush gently over the entire tart.
- Serve with the whipped cream.
Almond Butter Cake or “Boterkoek”
Almond Butter Cake or better known in our house as “boterkoek.” This cake is a Dutch dessert staple where everyone has a variations to suit their family tastes. I prefer lots of almonds and sugar on the top. It gives it a nice contrast to the moist cake. What is so great about this cake is it is so simple to make with pantry ingredients on hand. Basically, this can become your go-to cake when you need a quick dessert that did not come from the grocery store bakery. And let’s face it everyone loves homemade. It says you care. Like I said this is a very simple quick cake. It is a one bowl cake. All you need is butter, sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla extract, almond extract and flour. Mix everything together and bake it. It is a good thing the cake is rich and one could (and should) only eat a small slice since it takes 3/4 cup of butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. This is not a low calorie or heart healthy cake so while tempting to make this every day, I would suggest keeping this as a treat. Don’t ask how many calories are in it; because it is best not to know. I do not know nor do I want to know. Just enjoy it! And do what the Dutch do when they enjoy this cake on special events, they go for walks afterwards.
Almond Butter Cake Recipe
- 3/4 cups of unsalted sweet butter
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
- 1 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Melt butter.
- Pour melted butter in a bowl and stir in sugar until combined.
- Add eggs.
- Stir till creamy.
- Add salt through flour
- Grease bottom and sides of pan.
- Spread the batter in the pan.
- Sprinkle the almonds over the top and add sprinkle the sugar.
- Bake for 40-45 mins or until the center is set.