Tropical Pavlova

Pavlova
Tropical Pavlova

Pavlova, or pav for short, is a great kiwi classic that's often eaten during the festive season, mostly because that's when the best fruit is around! Pavlova is basically a large meringue covered in whipped cream and fruit of your choice. It's not just any ole meringue though. Unlike standard meringues that are crunchy and dry, pavlova is crunchy on the outside but soft and marshmallowy on the inside. This is achieved by using cornflour and vinegar in the meringue mixture. Once it gets to the oven, the egg whites react with the cornflour and vinegar to form a crunchy shell whilst keeping the inside moist and fluffy. Isn't science cool?!

Pavlova is the perfect base for whatever toppings you love. As mentioned it's usually topped with fruit, but you can top it with whatever else you desire. As you know I'm quite the fruit lover, so obviously I went down that route. Berries and cherries are what you normally find on top of a pav, but I wanted to take things up a notch and go tropical. There's a lot of good mangoes around at the moment at reasonable prices so it was a no-brainer that mango would be on here. I wanted something tangy or sour to cut through all the sweetness, so I used some passionfruit topping. You can find this in the dessert section of your supermarket. There's a couple of brands that make it. I chose the one with the least amount of sugar added! Passionfruit tends to be rare and expensive here, but if you have access to fresh passionfruit then definitely use fresh. Of course any tropical fruit like, paw paw, lychee, banana etc will work too. You can use fresh or tinned. If using tinned drain the syrup or else the fruit will slide all over the place.

If you're living a gluten free and/or dairy free lifestyle then this dessert is great for you. There's no flour in this recipe. Cornflour is used which is gluten free. Do check the brand of cornflour that you buy though, as some have other things added in there.  The only dairy in this dessert is the whipped cream on top which can easily be subbed with whipped coconut cream. Coconut cream also adds to the tropical vibe so that's an extra bonus. Really, we can all enjoy this dessert!

I highly recommend that you make the pavlova a day in advance as it takes quite long to cool. Just like any meringue, pavlova bakes at a low temperature. Due to it's texture though, it is quite delicate and is susceptible to moisture and temperature changes. For this reason, once the baking time is up, you need to turn the oven off and leave the pav in there until it cools down completely. No opening the door! If you make it the night before, it can cool in the oven over night. It takes a good few hours to cool so don't rush it. Nobody wants melted cream dripping off their pav!

This dessert has a high sugar content, so smaller portions are recommend. It can easily serve up to 16 people so it's great for a party or special gathering. If you don't have a lot of eaters at your home, you can do what I did - decorate half the pav and keep the other half for another day. I'm sure you won't have trouble getting rid of it!

Tropical Pavlova
Serves 16
6 egg whites
1 & 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp cornflour (check for gluten free)
1 tsp white vinegar

Topping
1 cup cream, whipped (use coconut cream for dairy free version)
1 mango, diced
3 Tbs passionfruit topping
toasted coconut

Preheat oven to 130 degrees Celsius (not fan bake). Line a baking tray with baking paper, and draw a 18-20cm circle on it using a plate as a stencil. Set aside.

Place your egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer. Use a clean glass bowl if you're using a hand mixed. Start whipping the egg whites on medium speed until they become frothy. Gradually add caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, while the mixer is on. Once all sugar has been added turn the mixer up to high speed and beat for 10 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved and the meringue is very thick and glossy. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the cornflour and vinegar.  Using the beater from the mixer, by hand, gently fold in those last ingredients until combined. Your meringue is now ready!

Take your bowl over to your baking tray. I like to dot a bit of meringue on the under side of my baking paper so it will stick to the tray. Spoon the rest of your meringue mixture into the circle on the baking paper, making sure the base is covered well. I like to hollow out the middle a bit so it's more bowl shaped. If you like you can smooth the mixture out to create a flat surface or do some swirls if you're feeling fancy.

Place your tray in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the pav in there to cool completely without opening the oven door. It's best if you leave it to cool over night. Don’t worry if the pavlova has a few cracks in it – this is completely normal. It's actually a sign that the top is gonna be nice and crunchy! The cracks will be covered with cream, so it will still look pretty anyway.

Once the pav has cooled, you can top it with with your whipped cream and fruit. A sprinkling of toasted coconut and a few sprigs of mint are a nice touch but you can leave it out if you don't have it. Serve immediately. Store any leftovers in the fridge. If you're making this a few days ahead of time, store the pav in a large dry, air-tight container and add the toppings just before serving.

Enjoy!

xx
Ugeshni

Apple Blueberry Crumble

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It's common knowledge that when fruit is in abundance, I make dessert. It's also common knowledge that I love using spices in my baked goods. So it should be no surprise to you that this recipe contains both, along with a crunchy topping too.

Crumbles, or crisps as they call them in the west, are the easiest way to use up a lot of fruit. Due to the simplicity of the recipe, crumbles can easily be adapted to suit your dietary requirements. I like to keep mine plant based plant based, so I often use coconut oil, margarine and maple syrup instead of butter or sugar. There is very little difference in the overall taste though, so no matter what you choose to go with, you won't be missing out.

I've made this recipe several times over. I usually stick to using 6 apples, but this time I reduced the amount of apples and added some blueberries instead.  You can stick with all apples, or use any other berry of choice. Blueberries are in season now, so it's a good time to use them if you like them! You can use frozen if you have them on hand. No need to defrost them either!

The best part of this recipe is that it's really simple to make. It's one of those, dare I say, dump-and-go recipes. The hardest part of the recipe is actually peeling and chopping all the apples. If you've got kids, or a loving partner, now's the time to get them in the kitchen to help with all that peeling and chopping!

Apple Blueberry Crumble
Serves 8
Filling
4 medium apples, cored, peeled and sliced (I use pacific rose)
2 cups blueberries (use any fresh or frozen berry of choice, or two more apples instead of the berries)
1 tbsp butter, melted (use margarine, or coconut oil if vegan)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 cup maple syrup (substitute with caster sugar if need be)
Juice of half a lemon

Crumble/Topping
1 cup standard flour (use almond flour, or GF flour for Gluten Free option)
1/3 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup shredded coconut
2/3 cup sliced almonds (save some to sprinkle on top)
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
120g butter, melted (use margarine, or coconut oil if vegan)

Preheat oven to 180ºC. First we make the crumble. In a medium bowl place your flour, sugar, coconut, almonds and walnuts in a bowl. Pour over the melted butter and rub the mixture with your fingertips until it resembles course breadcrumbs. Set Aside.

In a large bowl, place all your filling ingredients. Give it a good toss so that it's all coated evenly. Pour it into a 2L capacity baking dish. Crumble over the topping and place in preheated oven for 25-30minutes. The topping should be golden brown when it's done.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, custard or even coconut yoghurt.

Enjoy!

xx
Ugeshni
 

Vegan Raspberry Bounty Bites

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I was definitely a bounty bar kinda girl. Mention coconut and chocolate and I'm down. Now take it once step further and add some raspberries and now you've got me hooked! Coconut, raspberry and chocolate are actually a match made in heaven. These little bites are perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the coconut, sharpness of the berries and bitterness of the dark chocolate. It makes for the perfect snack when you're feeling peckish between meals. The great thing about it is not only is it super easy to make, it's vegan, and it's pretty healthy too! These bites don't contain much sugar due to the minimal use of a natural sweetener. I chose maple syrup for my sweetener but you could always use stevia, or honey if you're not vegan. I used 78% dark chocolate which is also quite low in sugar, you can of course up the cocoa percentage if you're a fan of dark chocolate. 

This is actually my take on a recipe from Nadia's Healthy Kitchen. The recipe is fairly simple and can easily be adapted to suit your needs. Nadia makes hers into chocolate bars, but I decided to portion control mine and make them bite sized. You can of course make yours in any shape you want. You can even get creative and use different shaped chocolate moulds if you're in the mood. If you really couldn't be bothered though, you can easily turn this into a slice by simply putting the coconut mixture into a loaf tin and then pouring the chocolate over, freezing the whole thing, then cutting it into your preferred size. Voila!

I've actually made this more than once! The first time I made a two layer bounty bar with a vanilla layer and then a raspberry layer on top. It was ok, but my taste buds weren't satisfied. I really wanted to up the anti with the raspberry flavour and make it shine. I ditched the layers and played around with the quantities a bit. I eventually found a good balance by using more raspberries and adding some freeze dried raspberry powder to add more depth of flavour. This is optional but highly recommended. Not only does it make the bites look pretty, but the taste is phenomenal! The rest of the ingredients are fairly basic so you shouldn't have a problem sourcing them. Now you really have no excuse not to make this!

Raspberry Bounty Bites (Adapted from Nadia)
Makes 36 bites
2 cups (235g) desiccated coconut
1/2 cup (56g) coconut flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (235ml) full fat coconut milk
1 cup (140g) raspberries – fresh or frozen
1/3 cup (75g) coconut oil
1/3 cup (80ml) maple syrup
3 Tbs raspberry powder
200g dark chocolate
freeze dried raspberries to decorate

Place all the ingredients, except the chocolate, into a medium saucepan on medium heat. Stir the mixture and mash the berries as you go. Once it's all combined take it off the heat and place into your mould of choice. I used silicone mini cupcake moulds. Place the mixture in the freezer for one hour to freeze completely. 
Once the coconut mixture if frozen, pop it out of it's mould. Cut into slices if you didn't use individual moulds. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and set aside. Melt your chocolate either in a bain marie or in the microwave. Generously coat each bite with the chocolate and set on the lined tray. Decorate each bite with some crushed freeze dried raspberry. Once all the bites are coated and decorated place them back in the freezer to set. It should take about 30 minutes to set. Once it's set you can have it immediately and store any left overs in the fridge for up to a week.

Enjoy!
xx
Ugeshni