2.25.2017

It's All About the Whites, No Yolk!

New Year's Day in London was perfect. It rained hard all day long, which is exactly what we wanted.

As if we were prescient, we had decided several weeks earlier that we would spend the entire day at home in our rented apartment. How could we have guessed that would be our only rainy day during our three weeks in Europe?

The flat had a few cookbooks through which to browse. I put on some classical music, went right for one of Jamie Oliver's books, and settled in for the day,

Jamie, in this book, talks about his extramarital affair... with his garden! I am assuming his wife not only understands, but encourages it. With Mark’s love of gardening, I feel her pain.

Jamie is into everything fresh and natural and homegrown these days. His garden (there are lots of photos in the book) is pretty stunning.

One dessert that stood out to me was tray-baked meringues with cream, pears, hazelnuts, and chocolate sauce.

This was a bit ambitious for the resources we had on hand, so I snapped a photo of the page and decided it would be one of the first desserts I made upon returning to the U.S. And it was. I made avgolemono soup for supper one evening after we returned, so I was left with three reserved egg whites.

If you make avgolemono, use the whites to make pavlovas, and vice-versa.
Naturally, my version is an homage to Jamie's recipe because, well, mine is quite different. He made one large meringue, I made individuals. He baked his meringue an hour, I baked mine using my traditional method: 30 minutes of baking, then leave them in the oven to finish drying. He uses only dark chocolate for the sauce, I used a blend of dark chocolate and gianduia chocolate.

One place I followed his lead and wish I hadn't: his recipe calls for canned pears and I thought that was great - it would save a lot of time. In the end I really wish I had poached my own pears! The jarred ones I used (though highly recommended) were bland and tasteless. I can poach a much better pear. (And it occurs to me... if he is all gung ho on using fresh ingredients, what the heck is he doing using canned pears?)

Thanks, Jamie, for the inspiration. It was a hit with our guests and I will make it again, next time poaching my own pears.

~ David

Individual Pear and Gianduia Pavlovas

2 ounces dark chocolate (70%), chopped
2 ounces gianduia (hazelnut-infused milk chocolate) chopped
5-7 tablespoons pear poaching liquid
3 large egg whites, room temperature
pinch salt
1/2 cup superfine (bar) sugar
4 pears, poached (try this or this recipe)
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

Place 5 tablespoons of the pear poaching liquid in a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Add the dark chocolate and gianduia and whisk until smooth. Add another tablespoon or two to make a good drizzling consistency. Set aside. You may need to reheat the sauce before serving to make it the right consistency.

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Using a standing mixer with its whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm peaks form. With mixer running, slowly add the superfine sugar and beat at high speed for 2-3 minutes until the stiff peaks are glossy and smooth.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and divide meringue into six portions evenly spaced. Using the back of a spoon, smooth them into roughly 5-inch circles, leaving a shallow indentation in each center. Don't worry about them being perfect circles!

Place meringues in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave them to cool. If you can, leave them there till it is time to serve, as they will stay dry and airy.

Slice the poached pears in half, and each half in thirds. Set aside.

Using a hand-held mixer, beat the cream with the confectioner's sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.

Assemble the dessert: Reheat the chocolate sauce. Place a meringue on each of six dinner plates. Fill the indentations of the meringues with half of the whipped cream and top with half the pear slices. Divide the remaining whipped cream on top of the pears, then top with the remaining pears, a generous drizzle of the chocolate sauce, and sprinkled with chopped hazelnuts.

Serves 6.



34 comments:

  1. David, those look lovely. But I agree with you, even the best canned/jarred pears are not even close to one's own poached pears. And I, too, prefer and always make individual meringues. One big one looks beautiful until you start cutting and serving; then it just looks a mess.

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    1. I can't believe I was duped into using jarred pears, Jean! Never again! And the idea of one big Pavlova being hacked at the table? Crime scene!!

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  2. Hmm, maybe the Jamie's recipe was originally from one of his 15 minute meals - hence the tinned pears. Or not. Can I tell you that I've NEVER made a pavlova? Why? Who knows. And I've never heard of gianduia chocolate. Now that I do, I need it.

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    1. Wait a minute, John... where are you from? Isn't the Pavlova your national dessert?

      You might be right about this being from one of his 15-minute receipts... but still, I couldn't do it again!

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  3. These look amazing! It's been ages since I've had a pavlova. I'm not usually a huge fan of cooked fruit so I'd probably swap out the poached pears altogether for some fresh berries!

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    1. Carolyne Dash this will be great with berries and the pears! You could try fresh ripe pears – that might be wonderful, too! The reason I say this is because the pears combined with the chocolate-hazelnut flavor is pretty wonderful.

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  4. A beautiful first go at pavlovas, David. I agree about the tinned pears... but what a beautiful combination of flavours. Actually, there's a dessert post on my blog that combines pears, chocolate and hazelnut.You might enjoy it. And how about that, John from HNF, has never made pav! xx

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    1. Lizzy - thanks for the compliment! I've never had a Pavlova before, but I know they usually use berries rather than pairs. However, this combination is quite wonderful!

      And, as for John, I think he will need to make one when he gets back from his trip!

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  5. What a fabulous dessert David . I love hazelnuts and chocolate. I have to look for the hazelnut infused chocolate . I have never made pavlovas. I will have to try this.

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    1. The combination of favors and textures is wonderful, Gerlinde! I hope you try it!

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  6. One of my favorite desserts: anything with meringue! I am rather surprised myself, that Jamie has a recipe using canned pears! This looks lovely and I'd LOVE to try it! Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. I was surprised, too, Christena. Especially since the book was about his garden! You should definitely try the recipe!

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    2. Now that's really unbelievable!!

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  7. Crispy meringues, soft whipped cream, the crunch of nuts, soft pears, and warm chocolate…love the textures and taste of this dessert.

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    1. Thanks, Karen. The company she did work beautifully!

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  8. Poached pears (instead of canned) are a good alternative to the berries for topping the pavlova. Will try it! ciao :) ANna

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    1. Thanks, Anna. I think you will also really like the gianduia chocolate sauce.

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  9. Mmmmmm....this is fabulous! Would you tell us which Jamie cookbook this was in, please? I know I can probably just google it, but it's time for another Jamie cookbook here at my house.

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    1. Hi, Caterina, I think it was called "Jamie at Home." I will try and find out for sure, but that seems to be the one.

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  10. That is just a stunning and unique pavlova!!!

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    1. Thanks, Mimi - definitely a fun way to use those leftover whites!

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  11. What a show stopper you have created, perfect for entertaining. I enjoy reading about your traveling escapades, always a treasure. Have a great week!

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    1. Thanks, Cheri - it is fun to share the travels, even though this story involved staying indoors on a rainy day!

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  12. Pavlova has never looked so good!

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    1. Thanks, Caroline! Should we make it next weekend?

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  13. I have never had good luck with these. Maybe I should try the little ones to avoid the uncooked center that plagues me. GREG

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    1. I cannot even imagine a large one, Greg! My nerves would shatter!

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  14. I love meringues! Love the chocolate over the top.

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    1. The chocolate is especially good with the added gianduia!

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  15. Dear David, I made a Pavlova for the first time last summer and the kids went crazy - decked out with tons of vanilla cream and fresh summer berries it was a nice dessert but I love the version you made so much - chocolate and hazelnuts are a match made in heaven, dessert heaven that is!

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    1. I can only imagine how much the girls loved their first pavlova! It is such a versatile dessert!

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  16. This is perfect David. Most of my recipes lately have used egg yolks and my freezer is full of whites! You did enjoy your holidays didn't you!

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    1. You know, Inger, I have never thought of freezing egg whites - that is brilliant! SO often, I keep them in the fridge till I am afraid they might become science experiments...

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