Tis’ the season to be baking

Dawn settles as shadows soften Holly’s spiky crown, peaking from a snowy blanket. The hedgerow glistens in the first glimpse of daily sun. A sweet silence fades into Robin song. Frost melts to reveal them a tasty breakfast…


Frosty Holly-Berry Snowballs

Winter Pavlova

Trialling a Meringue recipe from the book ‘Afternoon Tea’ by Susannah Blake. Altering the recipe, I have taken decoration recommendations from two authors to combine and produce the desert pictured above.

To create this pudding:

Ingredients: 2 x egg whites, 125g caster sugar, 1 teaspoon cornflour, 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar, full fat cream, 225g raspberries, a small bowl of white granulated sugar, 2 x bars of Sainburys basics milk chocolate, 24 holly leaves, 2 x baking sheets lined with grease-proof paper.

Makes about 12.

Instructions: Put the egg white in a clean bowl and whisk to form stiff peaks. Sprinkle over a couple of teaspoons of the caster sugar and fold into the mixture. Continue folding in the remaining sugar in the same way, adding the cornflour and vinegar with the last spoonfuls.

Drop heaped tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them slightly apart, swirling the mixture upward into a peak.  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 140 C (275 f) gas mark one for about 45 minutes until dry and just beginning to colour. Using a spatula, carefully remove the meringues from the baking sheets and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Adjusted recipe regarding decoration:

To transform this traditional summer sweet into a winter wonder, simple tweaks in decorating the meringues can achieve this. Using a whisk (definitely helps if it’s electric), fully whip the cream into peaks, and then continue to do so until extra thick and set in fridge. The texture of this depicts  fluffy snow. Once a tablespoon of this is added to each meringue, granulated sugar sprinkled on top adds a touch of frost. When biting into a pavlova , sugar and cream literally melt in your mouth, compacting into a crunch and slowly softening like disrupted layers of snow upon being wondered over.

Add two raspberries on top of each meringue to represent the red winter berries, create chocolate holly leaves to place next to them following these instructions:

Boil some water and sterilise 24 picked holly leaves. Dab these dry with paper kitchen towel, taking extra care around the spikes and place to dry on a clean tea towel. Melt two bars of chocolate in a pan over the hob (microwaving is easier but doesn’t have the same effect). Fetch two plates, and line one with grease-proof paper, this is to avoid the chocolate coated leaves becoming stuck to the plate whilst setting in the fridge. Use the other plate to cover the leaves in chocolate on, do this with a teaspoon and only on one side of the leaf. Try to make the chocolate layer as thick as possible, so as to be successful in peeling a chocolate leaf away upon completion. Set in the fridge for minimum of one hour to a maximum of one day. Once set, remove from fridge, and holding the stalk, peel the leaf away from the chocolate – instead of the chocolate away from the leaf. Flip over to reveal a holly imprint, this is the side you want to show off.

Holly Berry buried in the snow.

Alternative winter pavlova fruit trimming ideas: sliced nectarine, segmented orange, pomegranate, gooseberries, cranberries or autumnal blackberries.





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