HAZELNUT PAVLOVA WITH APRICOT COULIS

My mom used to make this incredible dessert for dinner parties when I was little. It’s a fantastic winter version of a traditional meringue Pavlova, but actually even more delicious. I think it’s a perfect Holiday Dessert because of the nutty fall flavors. As we come closer to the Holidays, I love to use Hazelnuts in both desserts & salads. Not only do they have that sweet & earthy flavor that is utterly unique, but they are also really good for your heart.

I made one last weekend and it was inhaled around the table with requests for another asap – so if you want to wow your family and friends – this might well be the way to go.

Yes- there is sugar and dairy in it – but it is gluten-free!

I have included the cooking method for those of you who live in high altitudes – I’m off to Boulder, CO this weekend and will be making this – thank Goodness my mother-in-law reminded me to adjust the recipe accordingly so I don’t wind up with pancakes instead of meringues.

 

Hazelnut Pavlova With Apricot Coulis

½ cup raw hazelnuts

2tbsp cornstarch*

12 oz caster sugar

1pinch salt*

1cup water*

6 large egg whites

6 oz ground hazelnuts

10 oz dried apricots

1/4cup water

Juice of 1 large orange

1” cinnamon stick

2tbsp soft brown sugar

4tsp tapioca starch or arrowroot mixed with 4tsp cold water

*Only use these ingredients if you are baking in a high altitude.

Serves 8

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

 

Soak the apricots overnight and drain them but retain the soaking water.

 

Toast the hazelnuts in a small skillet on a medium heat for about 5 minutes, turning them around the pan to avoid burning. Remove them from the heat and set them aside.

Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, slowly add the sugar while still beating. Using a metal spoon, fold in the hazelnuts.

 

*If you are baking in a high altitude:

Stir together the salt, sugar and cornstarch and mix in the water. Microwave this mixture for 2 minutes and then allow it to cool. When you are beating the egg whites – when they are beginning to form soft peaks, beat in this sugar mixture.

Use 2 8” round cake tins. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and grease the whole pan really well.

Divide the egg white mixture between the two pans, piling the mixture up in the center.

Place in oven for 25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for a ½ hour in the pans before carefully turning out onto 2 plates.

 

You can make these meringues a couple of days in advance and keep them in an airtight container.

Place the apricots in a small heavy saucepan with the cinnamon, sugar and ½ cup of the soaking water. Simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes. Mix the tapioca starch with cold water and stir into the apricot mixture. When the mixture has started thickening, remove and allow to cool completely.

Whip up the cream until stiff.

Now you are ready to assemble: place one meringue on a large platter and spread the apricot mixture evenly over it.

Now top with ½ of the whipped cream.

Place the other meringue on top and finally top with the rest of the cream. Decorate with the toasted nuts, which I break up a bit with a large knife. It’s looks pretty to have some whole nuts and some pieces.

In the unlikely event that you don’t manage to finish eating it, it keeps really well for up to 2 days in an airtight container.

PAVLOVA

I’m just back from vacation and have jumped right back into the kitchen with an Al Fresco lunch today – some great friends who are into food as much as we are. I wasn’t at all sure what to make for dessert and almost caved in and grabbed a store bought flan as time was running out – but a Pavlova is always a crowd pleaser and easier to make than it looks. It also allows us to make use of the wonderful organic Summer berries that are about to go out of season.

I sometimes make it with assorted berries, which is really pretty, but since I could only find organic raspberries (and all berries really MUST be organic,) I just went with them.

The trick with a good Pavlova is to have the meringue be slightly chewy – I think meringues that are hard and dry are rather unpleasant. The best Pavlovas need to cave in as you cut them and have a good goo-factor. This obviously isn’t for vegans or those of us who are radically anti-white sugar!! I very rarely eat cream and almost never eat white sugar, but a Pavlova is the one and only time that I make an exception.. it’s worth it!

Raspberry Pavlova

Serves 6

2tsp cornstarch

2tsp white wine vinegar

1tsp vanilla extract

4 egg whites

8 ounces sugar

TOPPING:

10 ounces heavy cream

3 1/2 cups raspberries

Pre-heat oven to 300 F

 

Cut out a large circle of parchment paper – about the size you expect your Pavlova to be (mine is about 8″ in diameter.) Don’t worry, circle doesn’t have to be perfect and as you can see from mine – it works fine roughly cut.  Place it on a baking sheet.

Mix together the cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.

While still beating, add the sugar. Using a metal spoon, fold in the cornstarch mixture and then spoon the mixture onto the parchment paper, swirling it into a circle.

 

Bake in the oven for 1 hour. You can make it ahead of time as the meringue will keep in an airtight container for up to a week. If using right away, make sure it is completely cool, before adding the topping.

Transfer the meringue to a serving dish. Whisk the cream until it just holds it’s shape and spoon onto the meringue base. Add the berries.