An epiphany for the senses

GET IT: Love Laugh Bake, by Silvia Colloca, published by Pan Macmillan Australia, RRP $39.99
GET IT: Love Laugh Bake, by Silvia Colloca, published by Pan Macmillan Australia, RRP $39.99

Pavlova might be a contentious issue between Australians and Kiwis, but Silvia Colloca’s three ways with pav shows we all share the love of the pillowy dessert.

Colloca is an Australian-based professional opera singer and actress who is also well-known as a home-cook and baker.

She has hosted television shows and written recipe books based on the Italian recipes that have been passed down through her family for generations.

In her latest book, Love Laugh Bake, she shares her love of baking and her take on gluten-free and vegan baking from easy one-bowl cakes to crusty sourdough loaves and jam-filled cornetti, pizza bases, tarts and cakes.

In her chapter on special occasion baking, she could not resist adding three versions of pavlova as she adores every step that goes into making the dessert.

“From whipping the egg whites into shiny meringue and giving the mixture a whimsical shape, to the final assembly, when the crunchy base, soft creamy peaks and tangy fruit come together, creating an epiphany for all the senses.”

The beauty of pavlova is that it is naturally gluten-free so perfect for providing a dessert option for everyone at a gathering.

“Whatever the occasion, it is important to remember that making a special dessert to mark the day is, in itself, a gesture of love, which to me is what sharing food is all about.”

Classic pavlova base

In my experience, no other dessert gets the same enthusiastic reception as a pavlova. Frankly, I could have included about 10 versions of this evergreen in this chapter, but I had to limit myself to three due to word count restrictions.

My strongest advice when making pavlova is to use a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, or electric beaters. Although I am sure the pioneer cooks who first created this recipe would have relied entirely on elbow grease, no amount of vigorous hand whipping can quite replicate the lighter-than-air texture provided by a little piece of kitchen equipment.

Photo: Rob Palmer
Photo: Rob Palmer

Hazelnut pavlova tray with raspberries

One of my favourite ways to present pavlova is in the shape of a rectangle. Spreading the mixture in this way accommodates a generous amount of topping, which in the case of this gorgeous combination of hazelnut and raspberries can only be a good thing.

SERVES 8-10
Gluten free

cornflour, for dusting
2 Tbsp hazelnut meal
70g (½ cup) roasted, skinned hazelnuts, roughly crushed
300ml thickened cream
50g icing sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped, or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 Tbsp hazelnut liqueur (optional)
200g (1 cups) raspberries

Method

Heat your oven to 150degC. Line a 40 x 30cm baking tray with baking paper and dust with cornflour.

Make the pavlova base as instructed, then stir through the hazelnut meal.

Spread the pavlova mixture evenly over the prepared tray, creating soft peaks around the edges. Sprinkle with two-thirds of the crushed hazelnuts.

Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 120degC and bake for a further 45 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the pavlova to cool and dry in the oven for 45-60 minutes, leaving the door ajar. The top will crack and the middle will stay soft like a marshmallow.

Whip the cream and icing sugar until soft peaks form, then gently stir in the vanilla and liqueur, if using. Transfer the cold pavlova base to a platter or board and dollop the cream mixture on top.

Crush 70g (½ cup) of the raspberries with a fork. Scatter the whole raspberries over the pavlova, then drizzle the crushed berries and their juices on top. Crown with the remaining crushed hazelnuts.

 

Photo: Rob Palmer
Photo: Rob Palmer

Tiramisu brown sugar pavlova nests

Using brown sugar in place of white caster sugar will tint the meringue nests a pale, golden caramel colour, creating the perfect vessel for a rich mascarpone topping spiked with sweet aromatic Marsala and the warmth of espresso-soaked savoiardi biscuits.

SERVES 6
Gluten free

1 classic pavlova base (made with brown sugar instead of caster sugar)
250g mascarpone
50g icing sugar
100ml thickened cream
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped, or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 Tbsp Marsala
2-3 savoiardi biscuits, broken into small pieces
3 Tbsp espresso coffee
Dutch cocoa powder, for dusting

Method

Heat your oven to 150degC and line two baking trays with baking paper.

Make the pavlova base as instructed. Spoon three mounds of the mixture on to each lined tray, shaping six nests in all. Make an indent in the centre of each nest, creating a rim to accommodate the filling once baked.

Place the trays in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then swap the trays and bake for another 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 120degC and bake for a further 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the meringues to cool and dry in the oven for 45-60 minutes, leaving the door ajar.

Whip the mascarpone, icing sugar and cream to soft peaks. Add the vanilla and Marsala and mix to combine.

Dunk the savoiardi biscuits into the coffee for 1-2 seconds, then drain on paper towel. Fold the soaked biscuits into the mascarpone mixture.

Place the pavlova nests on serving plates, top with the mascarpone mixture and dust with cocoa powder.

 

Photo: Rob Palmer
Photo: Rob Palmer

Peaches and cream pavlova

This pavlova celebrates the divine union of peaches and cream. Poaching the peaches may seem a little laborious, but I strongly recommend giving it a try to experience the sublime texture they bring to this dessert.

The other perk is that you will be left with the poaching liquid, some of which can be drizzled over the pavlova, and the rest stored in the fridge ready to be poured over vanilla ice cream or mixed with vodka and gin for a martini with a peachy twist.

SERVES 8-10
Gluten free

cornflour, for dusting
1 classic pavlova base
25g (¾ cup) flaked almonds
4 large white peaches
100g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 Tbsp thyme leaves
300ml thickened cream
50g icing sugar
1 Tbsp almond liqueur
4-5 amaretti biscuits, crushed

Method

Heat your oven to 150degC. Draw a 20cm circle on a piece of baking paper, then flip the paper over (so the circle is visible but the pavlova mixture won’t touch the pencil) and place on a baking tray. Dust with cornflour.

Make the pavlova base as instructed. Spread the pavlova mixture over the prepared tray, creating soft peaks around the edges.

Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.

Bake the pavlova for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 120degC and bake for a further 45 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the pavlova to cool and dry in the oven for 45-60 minutes, leaving the door ajar.

The top will crack and the middle will stay soft like a marshmallow.

Place the peaches in a saucepan and cover with water. Add the caster sugar, vanilla bean and thyme and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave the peaches to cool in the liquid for 10-15 minutes. Lift out the peaches, reserving the poaching liquid, and peel off the skins, then cut them in half and remove the stones. Cut each half in half again and set aside.

Reduce the poaching liquid over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until syrupy. Set aside to cool.

Whip the cream and icing sugar until soft peaks form. Gently stir through the liqueur.

To assemble, place the pavlova base on a platter and top with the cream and peaches. Drizzle over some of the poaching liquid and crown with the crushed amaretti.
 

Add a Comment

 

Ask a Chef Recipe Book ON SALE NOW! $29.99

The all-new Ask a Chef is available now! With fantastic recipes from the popular newspaper series, there is inspiration for everything from salads to chocolate cakes and quiches to sausage rolls - sure to impress at your next family or social gathering!

With a delicious mix of recipes from around the region including Riverstone Kitchen and Fleur's Place, there is something for everyone. Get your copy of Ask a Chef today !

 

Buy now from ODT Shop 

ODT subscriber only price - $25