Having a cracking time – Nigella’s Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

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We had our friends Emma and John over for Sunday lunch today so it was time to try a new dessert. The lovely Emma is pregnant so that meant cheesecake was out. I am a bit scared of tarts (pastry – eek!) so decided that following the success of my previous pavlova it was time to try a different pavlova. I have been wanting to try Nigella’s cappuccino pavlova that featured in her Nigellissima Christmas special last year (you can find the recipe on the BBC website here or on her website here) but decided that as the sun was shining maybe something a little bit more summery/spring-like was required. After a bit of research I found Nigella’s recipe for chocolate raspberry pavlova and decided that this was the recipe to try. It’s from her Forever Summer book and can be found on her website here.

Ingredients:

For the chocolate meringue base:
6 large egg whites
300 grams caster sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (sieved)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
50 grams dark chocolate (finely chopped)

For the raspberry and cream topping:
500 ml double cream
500 grams raspberries
3 tablespoons dark chocolate (coarsely grated)

Method: 
1) Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Using a plate (or ruler) draw a fat circle (approximately 23cm in diameter) onto the paper ready for the meringue,
2) Using an electric whisk or free-standing mixer beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form (Now here I ran into trouble – my egg whites just didn’t do what I wanted them to do. I had separated the eggs, wiped and washed the bowl but sadly my confidence evaporated as I was left with a foamy blob rather than satiny peaks! I can only think some rogue egg yolk had sneaked its way in. I persevered anyway but think my meringue suffered.)
3) Beat in the caster sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa, vinegar and the chopped chocolate and carefully fold in.

4) Mould on to a baking sheet in a fat circle to fit the 23cm circle drawn on the baking parchment. Smooth the sides and top. (As my meringue wasn’t quite right this was quite tricky. This was what mine looked like before it went in the oven.)

5) Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 150C/ gas mark 2 and cook for about 1 – 1 1/4 hours. When it’s ready it should look crisp round the edges and on the sides and be dry on top. When you prod the centre it should feel slightly squidgy. Turn off the oven, leave the door slightly open and leave the meringue to cool completely. As you can see I had some serious cracking issues. I’m not sure what I am doing wrong but I have had this problem twice now – it was cracking during the cooking rather than afterwards. I thought that it might fall apart completely but luckily it held together. If anyone can shed any light on why I am such major cracking issues I’d be very grateful!

6) When you’re ready to serve, invert it onto a large plate (ideally flat-bottomed). Whisk the cream until thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter over the raspberries. Coarsely grate the chocolate over the top and sprinkle over.
7) Enjoy! It is delicious and was a big hit. The meringue is chewy and the cream and raspberries are the perfect topping. I would definitely recommend and make this again.

Happy baking,

Dil :-)

Berlin

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Hello to everyone who has taken a look at the blog. I’m not sure where you’ve all come from but thank you – I hope you like what you see!

Apologies for it all going a little quiet on the blog front…I spent last weekend in Berlin with Mr Birdie (a.k.a. my husband Rob). Berlin was great, if not a little wet. It is a fantastic city and I would definitely recommend visiting and taking in some of the sights. We spent a lot of time eating and drinking coffee. A highlight for me was indulging in cheesecake for breakfast at Princess Cheesecake (http://www.princess-cheesecake.de/) a cafe dedicated entirely to cheesecake! We also tried a burger cooked in a former toilet (http://www.burger-meister.de/) an interesting experience! Below are some foodie shots captured on my phone (apologies for the quality of the photos – we took Mr Birdie’s SLR camera with us but sadly forgot the battery – oops!)

I am in the process of baking this weekend so promise a new recipe post tomorrow :-)

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

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This is a belated post as I originally made these a couple of weeks ago. One of my previous headteacher’s has just retired and the school held an afternoon tea as a celebration. I was asked to make some cakes (as it turned out they weren’t required much to the delight of the staff at my current school – they went down well on the last day of term when chocolate and sugar were very much needed!)

These were made in a rush on a Tuesday night so I haven’t got step-by-step photos but I will post the recipe should anyone be interested in making them. I openly admit that I find cupcakes tricky. I never seem to be able to get them light and fluffy enough – one day I’m sure I’ll succeed! If anyone has any tips I’d be very grateful! I used a Primrose Bakery recipe from the Cupcakes From the Primrose Bakery book.
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Pav-tastic – Mary Berry’s Lemon Pavlova

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We were invited to Sunday lunch today at our friend’s house (thanks Simon and Louisa!) and I offered to make dessert. I’m normally a cheesecake kinda girl but decided to opt for something a little bit different. I’d seen a Mary Berry recipe for a lemon pavlova that featured on the Easter Great British Bake Off Masterclass special. Now I will admit that despite my love of baking I have:
a) Never made a Mary Berry recipe (shocking I know)
b) Never made a pavlova or anything remotely meringue based
so I have to say I was a little worried yesterday afternoon that it would all go a little bit pear-shaped but I’m happy to say it was all OK in the end.

You can find the recipe here. It’s meant to be an Easter pavlova but I decided to leave out the chocolate mini eggs as we’re now past the Easter weekend.

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