Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Mini Pavlovas

It's a palaver, but worth it: they look so pretty people can't stop themselves - Nigella Lawson

One word for these: YUM! And it's not really a palaver, it's actually fairly easy to make these!!
The verdict:
Unusual or substituted ingredients: Only if 8 egg whites is considered unusual. Now all I need to do is find a recipe which uses 8 egg yolks! Special utensils or cookware: A large oven would be helpful - with enough room for 3 baking trays - or at the very least, 2 large baking trays - this recipe makes 18 mini pavlovas (or 16 in my case, but I could have easily made them slightly smaller!) As always, the KitchenAid made the mixing a whole lot easier!
Repeatability: Pavlova has always been a favourite dessert of mine (to bake as well as to eat!). I thought the recipe I always used (from A Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander, in case you were wondering) was a total winner - but I have to say, I am a big fan of the mini pavlova. I think because you get more crust?
Sauciness: Oh yeah, these were a huge hit! I served them up just with the whipped cream, plus raspberries, blueberries and banana slices on the side, so that our guests could choose their own adventure in terms of toppings!
Overall pleasure level: Even though these aren't chocolate, I do think I have to give them a 10. And because the recipe makes so many, they are like a gift that keeps on giving. Dessert on Saturday night, Sunday lunch and then tonight as well. Mmm mmmmm.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Burnt-butter Brown Sugar Cupcakes

It's difficult to explain the wonderful resonant taste that burnt butter has, but think of it as a kind of mouth-filling nuttiness - Nigella Lawson

I've always been intrigued by the name of this recipe - it sounds kind of nice (mmm brown sugar) but odd (hmmm, burnt butter?). Looking around for something relatively quick and easy for a girls gathering I thought I'd give these a try. Somewhat ironically, I also burnt the cupcakes, just a little bit...it was a mistake, honest!

The verdict:
Unusual or substituted ingredients: Golden caster sugar and golden icing sugar are hard to come by and certainly don't live in my pantry on a regular basis. So good old regular caster sugar and regular icing sugar did the trick.
Special utensils or cookware: None! These are made in a food processor - so easy! Although they aren't quite as quick as I thought, in that the burnt butter bit takes a while as you are supposed to wait until the butter re-solidifies after "burning" it. I'm not sure how long that is supposed to take but I imagine hours! So I put it in the fridge for a while and used it runny. I'm not sure it made any difference to the outcome!
Repeatability: Yeah, these were good - if I had enough time I would definitely make them again - I'd clarify the butter in the morning and make them in the afternoon - very easy!
You melt and stir the butter until it is a deep gold colour - this is the difference between regular butter and the now-burnt butter. Leaving it to cool also allows a bit of sediment to settle to the bottom.
Sauciness: These really do have a resonant, nutty taste - the only flavour comes from the burnt butter, the brown sugar and a little bit of vanilla. Oh, and the tons of icing which Nigella has you make - as usual, I made less than recommended and still had some leftover. Nigella directed the icing be smeared messily - so that's what I did!
Overall pleasure level: I'd give these a 7 - a good adult cupcake, not too rich but just a little bit complex in the eating.