There’s no dessert which screams summer louder than a strawberry Pavlova, and I had to make one at the very first opportunity I had this year with some left over egg whites, having been experimenting with mayonnaise as part of a practical session at uni. Squeezing in this recipe between making three different kinds of pastry recipes was no mean feat but we managed to pull it off.
For this recipe you will need:
- Four egg whites
- 250g caster sugar
- A tea spoon of white wine vinegar
- A tea spoon of vanilla essence
- A tea spoon of cornflour
- Vegetable oil
For the cream
- A tub of cream
- 50g of icing sugar
- Vanilla essence
For the topping
- Kiwi fruit
There’s a couple of steps when it comes to making the meringue base that are absolutely vital. First things first Pre heat the oven to a low heat around gas mark two. Then whisk the egg whites until the mixture forms “peaks” – you’ll notice you go to a white fluffy stage where the eggs look bubbly and you have to go beyond this so that it almost looks like a creamy shaving foam consistency.
Then you need to whisk and add in the sugar, and take this very slowly, one spoonful at a time to ensure that the consistency remains constant. You’ll notice that the mixture changes and becomes shiny but should still be light and fluffy, and you can mix in the vinegar, vanilla and cornflour at this stage.
Line a flat sheet with baking paper and then brush it with a light coating of vegetable oil and gently spoon your mixture in a round shape, making a dip in the centre to form a natural bowl for your cream and fruits. Then bake this in the centre of the oven for an hour. Once the hour has come to an end turn the oven off but leave the meringue until it is cooled down completely. If the oven starts to develop condensation on the inside of the glass then open the door slightly.
During this time you can prepare your fruits and cream.
Whip up a whole tub of cream with a couple of heaped spoonfuls of icing sugar and then add in your vanilla essence. You’re looking for a rich and thick consistency.
Slice up your fruits and then leave these in the fridge until you’re ready to serve the pavlova. Spoon the cream in to the well in the centre of the meringue and then pile it high with your fruits before serving immediately for a fabulous summer dessert.
This weekend marked the Spring Equinox and so we decided to start with the Easter bakes. This indulgent mini egg cheesecake is a fun one for little ones to make because it involves lots of bashing with a rolling pin.
You will need:
For the base
- Digestive biscuits – 300g
- Ground almonds – 50g
- Honey 2tbsp
- Crushed hazelnuts 50g
- Mini eggs – a handful
- Butter 200g
For the filling
- Nutella 3tbsp
- Double cream 300ml
- Icing sugar 120g
- Full fat cream cheese 700g (two packs)
- Vanilla essence 5 drops
- White chocolate – 70g
For the topping
- Mini eggs
- Chocolate shavings
When it comes to quantities it’s almost impossible to be accurate with a toddler – I try my best to stick to easy proportions so to begin we smashed up an entire pack of digestives give or take two and a pack of mini eggs too.
This amount was enough to fill the base of a large spring form tin and three ramekins – so in total 15 portions. You might want to scale this back if you’re not feeding the five thousand this Easter but for us “more is more.”
Add the mini eggs, biscuits, nuts and honey and mix well to distribute. Melt the butter in short bursts in the microwave and then mix this in – it quickly creates a nice ball which is cookie dough like in consistency. I cut a grease proofpaper circle in to size and add this to the base of my spring form tin before piling the mixture in and patting it down with a spoon.
We had lots left so used the extra in ramekins to make some individual portions. Then we popped this in the fridge whilst me mixed up the filling.
This is done in two stages. Melt the white chocolate in short bursts in the microwave and leave this to cool slightly. I whip the cream up with vanilla and icing sugar using an electric whisk until it forms nice peaks and then I leave that to the side whilst I mix up the cream cheese. It’s best to work with this at room temperature as it mixes in nicely. (If it’s cold then it goes lumpy). Pour the white chocolate in with the cream cheese and then a handful of crushed mini eggs too. I then combine the cream and the cream cheese together by folding them gently and taste testing at this stage. You want it to still form peaks and this is how you know it will set nicely.
For added indulgence we spread Nutella over our biscuit base before topping up with the filling. This is Arlo’s second favourite thing to do, and then it’s simply a case of leaving this all in the fridge to set overnight before decorating. This is where the little ramekins come in handy….. no one likes to wait for a taste and so if you’re impatient like us, you can dig in to these straight away.
We decorated our cheesecakes with more mini eggs, chocolate shavings and then some extra sprinkles for good measure. The result was a super rich and indulgent cake which has us all excited to dig in. I leave the spring form collar around until just before serving.
Here’s a slice profile for you too. I can’t even explain how delicious this is. Now that spring has arrived we are going to use the base of this recipe and adapt it with some different flavours – I’m thinking lemon and raspberry next!
These love bug cookies are a twist on our super simple sugar cookie recipe which is the basis for all of our fun themed biscuit bases.
You will need:
- 200g butter
- 100g sugar
- 300g flour
- Vanilla essence
- Red food colouring
- Choc chips
- Edible eyes
- Heart cookie cutter
You begin by combining the sugar, flour and butter in a bowl with the red food colouring. At this stage you can add vanilla essence or another flavouring of choice. Then roll out the red dough and sprinkle your chocolate chips on randomly before cutting out heart shaped pieces.
Lay all your hearts out on a baking sheet covered with grease proof paper and bake in the oven for about 12 mins at gas mark 6. This varies from oven to oven. Whilst the cookies are baking melt down some chocolate in a bowl and leave it to one side to cool down slightly and then fetch the cookies from the oven to cool down too.
Once the cookies are cool enough to handle dip the top half in to your melted chocolate before carefully placing them down on fresh grease proof paper. Add your edible eyes to the chocolate whilst still wet. If you have any chocolate left then you can carefully use the back of a spoon to draw a line down the centre.
This mixture makes about twenty heart shaped cookies. We popped a couple each in to bags for nanny and grandad and delivered these with a hand made clay ornament as their surprise valentines gift and the rest have gone down a great here.
Here’s a really simple way to incorporate winter in to your baking….. melted snowman cookies.
You will need:
- Icing sugar
- Food colouring pens
I made a batch of cookies using our three ingredient sugar butter and flour recipe but you could just as easily use a digestive or similar biscuit as a base if you’re short of time.
Simply decorate your marshmallows with your icing pens – orange for noses, black for coal mouths we used blue for eyes – unfortuanlty some of our snowmen didn’t make it last this stage and were consumed as they were!
Stick the marshmallows to your cookies with some icing made up as per the pack instructions and gently spooned over the cookies – the messier the better to create the dripping snow effect.
Did you know that daddy is a chef! At 21 months it’s about time that Arlo started learning a trade and so daddy picked up a packet of Pastry and set up an invitation to play on the kitchen table (apparently this is also called “mise en place” and is quite a professional set up.
Basically he chopped up lots of ingredients and set them up in little dishes ready for Arlo.
First of all they spread the included tomato sauce all over the dough base which they rolled out onto an oven tray.
Then they chucked on a mix of ingredients which work well together – leftover chicken, sliced red onion, peppers and cherry tomatoes along with chunks of mozzarella.
There’s no set way to do this – everything just got chucked on and then daddy sprinkled on some herbs and popped them in the oven for just shy of 15 mins.
These tasted delicious and the activity kept Arlo amused for quite a while. Lots of interaction with daddy and chatter about colours, vegetables and food items.
Have you tried cooking with your little one yet? Share some of your ideas in the comments – we would love to try them out!