Monday, December 27, 2010

Pavlova Roll with Berry Basil Salad

The dessert traditionally eaten on Christmas day is the Christmas Pudding. Christmas pudding is a steamed or boiled (we steam ours) spiced pudding with glace cherries, dried fruit (mainly raisins and sultanas, dates, currents) and sometimes candied fruit peel (we don't put any in ours). It is delectable and I will be sharing my Grandma's recipe here later on this week. But in our house we have some strange people. They do not like raisins or sultanas, or they just flat out don't like dried fruit. It is a true horror. So normally what they do is have a tinsy bit of cake and pile it with Brandy Butter and Double cream (what one serves with Christmas pudding) and be done with it. This year I was employed to provide another dessert to appease those strange folk who don't like pudding. So I decided on a Pavlova roll, a different take on the classic Pav and a favourite in our house. (some people in our house also don't like berries, so I only put the salad on half, as you can see...sillies)

For those of you among us who are not acquainted with the glory that is Pavlova, let me enlighten you. A pavlova is a bit like a meringue in that it is baked whipped egg whites. But it is not hard. It is soft and airy on the inside with a delicious chewy outside. Normally served with whipped cream and fruit of some kind (normally passionfruit, strawberries, raspberries or mango). This pav is baked flat and then covered in a filling and rolled up. Then dressed with a berry salad. Delicious. I cannot even begin to impress upon you how delicious this dessert it.

Now, as far as the salad goes, you have to trust me. It is AMAZING! Basil and strawberries/ raspberries are a match made in heaven! And the balsamic just ties it all together. It is an amazing amalgamation of flavours that just lends itself perfectly to the filled pav. It is not tart as you might think, the balsamic brings out the natural sweetness in the berries as well as their colour, making the berries a deep, luscious red that simply smells divine!

See the pretty colours!!! Yummy.

This Berry Salad is good on it's own as a dessert, just serve it with some whipped cream or vanilla cake. Also goes well with a traditional Pav or use it to give a quirky spin to a traditional dessert such as Eton Mess. (and if you still don't believe me, just google it)   

You have to trust me with this one folks. Eat this and you will think you have gone to heaven.

Pavlova Roll with Berry Basil Salad

For the Pavlova: 
4 Large Egg Whites, at room temperature
125g (4.4oz) Caster Sugar (Raw or White) (This needs to be super accurate, so I can't sub a cup measurement)
1 teaspoon (heaping) Corn Flour (starch)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon White Wine Vinegar (or any white vinegar)
1 cup Icing Sugar (for dusting)

For the Filling:
250g (1 1/4 cups) Mascarpone Cheese
120g (1/2 cup)  Plain Tangy Yoghurt 
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or beans of one vanilla pod)  

For the Berry Basil Salad:
1 cup fresh raspberries
2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup chopped basil leaves
1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons (4 US or UK tablespoons) caster sugar

Heat the oven to 165C (150 Fan Forced, 330F (or 300F fan forced)), grease a 30cm (12in) Swiss roll tray and line with baking paper.

Separate your eggs, making sure to get no egg yolk at all mixed in with the whites. Even an minuscule amount and the pav will not work. It is also important for the eggs to be at room temperature, leave them out overnight or if you are in a bind set them in some warm (not hot or boiling!) water for 5-10 minuets.

In the (clean!!) bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl add the egg whites. Beat until stiff peaks form and then add the sugar one third (1/3) at a time beating well after each addition. Once the sugar has all been beaten in, stop the mixer and add the corn flour, vanilla and vinegar. Mix in quickly.

Spread the mixture out evenly over the tray using a spatula and place in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes (the top should have a nice bit of colour to it, but not be overly brown). Do not open the door during the cooking time! Turn off the oven and leave the pavlova in the cooling oven for 15 minutes or so. remove from oven and leave to cool in the tray.

To make the berry salad, hull and slice the strawberries and place in a medium bowl with the raspberries. Sprinkle over the caster sugar, chopped basil and balsamic vinegar. Mix together gently and allow to stand for a good 5-10 minutes, stirring the berries occasionally to coat in the balsamic. 

To make the filling simply mix the mascarpone, yoghurt (you want a good tangy yoghurt here, sheeps milk, Greek or something of the like) and vanilla bean paste (or beans scraped from one pod) together in a medium mixing bowl using a spatula until well combined.

Once your Pavlova has cooled, spread out a clean tea towel and dust well with the icing sugar. Turn out your pav onto the towel and gently remove the baking paper. Spread the filling mixture over the pav leaving 5cm (2in) at one end so that the filling doesn't spill out when you roll the pav up.

Now, using the tea towel, start at the end that has filling all the way to the edge and roll your pavlova into a log shape (as if you were making a play dough sausage) and place directly onto the serving platter with the rolled edge on the bottom. Dust the top with more icing sugar and spoon the Berry Basil Salad over the top, not leaving those lovely balsamic juices behind. Serve immediately. (I make all the components of this before dinner and then just quickly assemble it before serving.)

Serves 6. Approximately 2hrs prep to table (including cooling time).
Adapted from a recipe by Karen Martini.

This roll, with the same filling also works with passionfruit pulp, or with mangos, but it's not as good as the berry salad.

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