Chocolate Strawberry Pavlova

Here’s another strawberry recipe that we love. This has been a favorite dessert that my two sweet chic-a-dis love to make. This is the second time they’ve made this dessert for me. The first time was for my birthday a year and a half ago. This recipe was inspired by Nigella’s chocolate raspberry pavlova. We love it with strawberries. My children made this last week with very little supervision. My daughter beat the egg whites, added all of the ingredients and chopped up the chocolate chips. My son beat the cream into a nice whipped cream to be added once the meringue has cooked and cooled. I helped them place it in the oven and remove it from the oven. It was nice and perfect! Soft,chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

strawberry pavlova

Ingredients

for the meringue base:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

for the topping:

  • 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • a small carton of fresh strawberries chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons coarsely grated bittersweet chocolate (we had small chocolate chips that we couldn’t grate so we it was chopped into smaller pieces.

Method

Preheat oven to 350F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat the egg whites until satiny and peaks form. Beat in the sugar spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Add in the cocoa vinegar and chopped chocolate. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in. Mound onto a baking sheet in a fat circle approximately 9 inches in diameter, smoothing the sides and top. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300F and cook to about an hour or an hour and fifteen minutes. When it’s ready it should look crispy around the edges and be dry on top. The center should feel soft. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly and let the chocolate meringue cool completely.

When you’re ready to serve. Place it into a flat plate. Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue then scatter over the strawberries and rain over with the chopped chocolates.

Spruced Up Vanilla Cake

This recipe came from Nigella’s  Christmas book. We had 2 Thanksgiving dinner to go to so I made this one for my sissy’s dinner party. The bunt mound has a train that goes around the bottom of the spruce tree. It doesn’t show on mine because I didn’t spread the batter towards the edges. Most of it was in the middle so the cake has elevated in the center. I’m pleased with how it turned out and this is nice to pair up with white wine, coffee, tea or champagne.

Spruced up vanilla cake

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) soft butter, plus more for greasing or use a nonstick pan spray
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup plain fat free yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract (I’ve used my fancy one for the occasion, madagascar vanilla bourbon)
  • 1-2 tablespoons confectioner’s (icing) sugar

Method

Preheat oven 350F and put a cookie sheet in at the same time. Butter or spray your large, regular or fir bundt pan thoroughly.

Either put all the ingredients except the confectioner’s sugar into a processor or mix together by hand or a free standing mixer as follows:
– Cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffly.
– Add the eggs one at a time, whisking each one in with a tablespoon of flour.
– Fold in the rest of the flour, and add the baking soda, yogurt and vanilla extract

Pour and spoon the mixture into your greased pan and spread evenly. Place the pan on the preheated cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes until well risen and golden. After 45 minutes, push a cake tester into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean the cake is cooked. Let it sit out of the oven for 15 minutes. Gently pull away the edges of the cake from the pan with your fingers, then turn out the cake, hoping for the best.

Once cool, dust with icing sugar pushed through a small tea strainer, to decorate think fresh snowfall on the alps.

Black Forest Cake

My my, I’ve been gone for a while. It’s been pretty busy around here. My cake design classes have started and my daughter had just turned 12. For her birthday she asked me to make her a Black Forest Cake. It had to be designed like the one from a video game that her and her friends play called Portal. I was a bit intimidated at first since it’s my first time baking one and designing one like it. I wanted it to be special and spectacular for her. I searched the web on what the cake is meant to look like and this is what mine turned out like. I wanted it to be very similar and to taste great as well.

Garnishing this cake was a very messy situation. I had chocolate bits melting all over my hands. I’ve had to wash, rinse and dry my hands every time the chocolate started to melt. I’m sure all you bakers out there know a better way of garnishing an entire cake with chocolate crumble without having to be messy. The instruction says to gently press the crumble on the cake. I tried that and they would fall off my hands creating a mess. Instead, slapped them on before they melted on my hands. I got the same result, a mess everywhere. There were chocolate crumbles all over the kitchen counter, floor, my clothes, face, hands, my son’s face, around his lips and of course inside his mouth ha ha ha ha ha lol…. : ) He told me the bits wanted to go inside his tummy, lol ha ha ha ha ha!

Oh, and by the way this is the first time I’ve baked a cake with chocolate milk as one of the ingredient and it really made the cake quite moist.

Black Forest Portal Cake

My daughter and one of her best friend made the mini portal cupcakes and it turned out rather nice as well…

I browsed loads of recipes for this cake and the one that I chose is from Sandra Lee. It looked like the easiest one for me to make. Although her original design for her Black Forest Cake is different from what the portal cake looked like, I just had to design it differently.

This is her cake design courtesy of Semi-Homemade Magazine…

I just had to make some minor changes on the ingredients and design.

Ingredients

  • 1 (18.25-ounce) box super moist chocolate fudge cake mix, Betty Crocker
  • 1 2/3 cups chocolate milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (will need to divide 3tbs and 2tbs)
  • 3/4 cup cherry pie filling
  • 1 (12-ounce) container frozen nondairy whipped topping, thawed

Garnish: 2 bars of your favourite bittersweet dark chocolate (one of mine is Ghirardelli )

Maraschino cherries

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 2 (9-inch) cake pans with nonstick baking spray with flour.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together cake mix, chocolate milk, oil, eggs, and 3 tablespoon of cocoa until smooth. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 15 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
3. Spread cherry pie filling between layers.
4. Add 2 tablespoon of cocoa powder to whipped cream to add a bit of brown then spread topping over top and sides of cake.
5. Blitz 2 bars of bittersweet dark chocolate in the food processor.
6. Gently press chocolate crumble onto sides of cake and top of cake. (I slapped mine on…lol) Top cake with small whipped cream circle using cake decorator tip # and cherries. Store in refrigerator.
Makes 1 (9-inch) cake

*Cupcakes ingredients were exactly the same except the kids didn’t bother with the cherry pie filling.

Oxtail Stewed with White Grapes (la queue de boeuf des vignerons)

I had an early start with March Random Recipe Challenge from Belleau Kitchen. The challenge is to count our cookery books from left to right until you get to your 17th book. There you would flip open a random page and that would be the recipe challenge you will have to create. My 17th book was At Elizabeth David’s Table and the random recipe I got was OXTAIL STEWED with WHITE GRAPES la queue de boeuf des vignerons.

When I first glanced at it I thought, oxtail! Now how is this going to taste? This looks difficult, can I do this? Where can I even find this meat? I’ve had to call 4 different grocery stores to find them. I was quite happy when I finally found a place where I can get them.

I’m no where near the level of expertise that most of the bloggers I see entering the challenges. We’ve not eaten this nor have cooked anything like this before. I’m not quite sure the kiddies and hubs would eat them if they knew what it was and I wouldn’t want to waste food. I was willing to go out of my comfort zone. So here it is………….

TA DA!!!!

This was so delicious that both my kiddies ate them. My son particularly liked the sauce. It was sweet from the grapes and its juices, savoury from the seasoning and meat itself. The meat falls of the bones and melts in your mouth like butter. I never thought we would ever eat oxtail but this is one recipe you will enjoy. Hubs will give it a go tonight : ) I hope he likes it.

photo(16)

Ingredients

  • 2 oxtails (5-6lb) cut into 2 inch lengths,
  • 3-4oz pancetta
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 large carrots
  • a bouquet of 2 bay leaves, parsley, thyme and two crushed cloves of garlic
  • tied in a bunch
  • salt, pepper and a little mace or allspice (I’ve used allspice)
  • 2lb green grapes

Method

Steep the oxtails in cold water for 2 hours, for the blood to soak out.
Chop the onions and dice the carrots. On a heavy cooking pan (I’ve used my cast iron dutch oven) place the pancetta with the vegetables on top. Start off on low flame or setting and cook for 10 minutes. Put the pieces of oxtail and the bouquet in the center. Season the meat with salt, pepper, allspice. Place the lid and gently cook for 20 minutes. Remove stems from the grapes and crush slightly in a bowl. Add them to the pot and cover with 2 sheets of parchment paper and the lid. Transfer to the oven at 275F and cook for a minimum of 3 1/2 hours. Once cooked transfer the oxtail and some of the pancetta bits to a serving dish. Skim off the fat from the cooking liquid and press all the ingredients through a fine sieve. Pour the sauce over the oxtail.

Serve with mashed potatoes or rice.