Monthly Archives: December 2015

Balsamic Vinegar Golden Pavlova

Balsamic Vinegar Golden Pavlova :: The Scandinavian Baker

Just because Christmas is over (phew) doesn’t mean you have to stop celebrating, right? Down here in the Southern Hemisphere it’s hot and bright and the heartily-warm comfort-food style Christmas desserts sometimes just don’t cut it on a breezy summer afternoon; we turn to our summer favourite, Pavlova… with a twist.

Classics and favourites exist like fairytales, we love them and bring them out time and time again to the delight of our wide-eyed guests. But once in a while a slight nudge in an unexpected direction reignites the passion and is as welcome as that summer breeze after a hot December day. It’s certainly clear that Pavlova is by far the fairest of them all, but who wants fair all the time!

I’ve posted about Pav before and this recipe is based on the classic. All that is required is a tweak, to the sugar and the vinegar. The addition of the golden brown sugar and dark vinegar transforms this classic from snow white to wicked queen but still maintains all the goodness.

Begin with the basic Pavlova recipe based on Stephanie Alexander’s from The Cook’s Companion.

Balsamic Vinegar Golden Pavlova :: The Scandinavian Baker

The Pantry

4 egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
200 grams of golden caster sugar combined with 50 grams of light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
A few drops of pure vanilla

 The Topping

250ml of thickened cream (for whipping)
250 grams of strawberries, hulled and roughly sliced
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of golden caster sugar
1/2 cup each of raspberries and blueberries

Balsamic Vinegar Golden Pavlova :: The Scandinavian Baker

Preheat your oven to 180c. Beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form. Add the golden sugar a little at a time and beat until shiny and stiff (and no longer gritty). Add the vanilla, balsamic vinegar and cornflour and gently fold into the mixture until combined.

Transfer the glossy and wickedly-tinted meringue onto a prepared baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

Gently flatten the mound a little and smooth out the sides. Don’t worry too much about the look of it at this point as you’ll invert this one after cooking.

Place into the oven and reduce the temperature to 150c and bake for 30 minutes. Then reduce again to 120c and bake for an additional 45 minutes. Switch off the oven and allow the meringue to cool completely. I often bake it the night before the party and leave it in the oven overnight.

Two hours before you’re planning to serve, place the chopped strawberries, additional sugar and balsamic vinegar into a bowl and mix well to coat. Allow the fruit to steep in the vinegar mixture for at least 2 hours, longer if you have the time. This magically transforms the berries into a new taste sensation and transforms the vinegar into a delicious syrup.

Assembly required

Whip the cream to soft peaks and dollop onto the meringue base. Arrange the marinated strawberries on top, followed by the other berries. Drizzle the reserved vinegar syrup over the fruit for a delightful twist on the original.

If it’s terribly hot, pop the Pav back into the fridge for 30 minutes to chill. Enjoy with an evening breeze and a dip in the nearest pool.

Balsamic Vinegar Golden Pavlova :: The Scandinavian Baker
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Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta, Sea Salt… and a ridiculous amount of herbs.

Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta :: The Scandinavian Baker

Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta with Sea Salt… and a ridiculous amount of herbs. 

I was recently reminded of a much loved favourite. I used to bake it for all manner of parties with such success it started receiving invitations itself, and disappointed looks if it didn’t appear. Oh you brought cake instead… I’m sure it’ll be fine… 

It has been part of the repertoire for so long I can’t remember where it originated from. What I do know for sure is that it has certainly evolved into the mouth-watering punch in the mouth flavour-bomb  it is today.

Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta :: The Scandinavian Baker

Last week an old friend asked me for the recipe and the on-line discussion thread developed with calls of glee from others at the same party (5 years ago!) at the memory of this now legendary delight.

For the life of me I can’t remember why I stopped making this extraordinarily simple but delightful dish.

Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta :: The Scandinavian Baker

Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta with Sea Salt… and a ridiculous amount of herbs. 

The Fridge

1kg of fresh ricotta – from the deli not from a tub – tub cheese is way too soft for success
Sea salt crystals
Dried chili flakes to taste (trust me, err on the side of too much as the cheese will mellow the heat)
A few generous slugs of extra virgin olive oil
Great big bunches of oregano, sage, rosemary and thyme*

Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta :: The Scandinavian Baker

Preheat the oven to 200c. Line a loaf tin and press the ricotta into the tin. Bake for 20 minutes until firm and the edges have the slightest hint of gold.

Allow the cheese to cool in the tin for at least 30 minutes, in which time it will become firmer.

Meanwhile in a shallow baking tray make a bed of half of the herbs and dress with a little olive oil and set aside.

Once cool enough to handle, cut the loaf in half and invert onto the green bed of waiting herbs.

Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta :: The Scandinavian Baker

Separate the halves slightly and drizzle with olive oil. Liberally sprinkle the crystalline flakes of salt over the two slabs. Don’t be shy, ricotta can handle the salt.

Follow with the chilli flakes and the rest of the herbs. Douse with olive oil and return to the oven to bake for a further 30-40 minutes.

After 15 minutes baste the cheese with the sizzling herb infused oil. Repeat every 10 minutes until the blanket of herbs are soaked and scorched and the cheese is a deep burnished gold.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving – just ever so slightly warm.

Sit back and let the praise wash over you between greedy mouthfuls.

Fiery Twice Baked Ricotta :: The Scandinavian Baker
* All available at Scarborough Fair (see what I did there)