Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Persuasion+Dessert

We had book club at my house last week. It was reminiscent of my days as the co-pastry chef of our Book and Dessert group in Charlottesville. Every month Amy and I would cook the dessert for our book group and everyone would pitch in some money. I don't know if we ever came out even, but it was a lot of fun. Some things we made were Pear Cranberry Sorbet in Frozen Pear Cups, Coconut Tarts with Lime Curd, Chocolate and White Chocolate Fondue, Crepes...the list could go on.

This month the book was Jane Austen's Persuasion and I will tell you that I didn't have to persuade anyone to eat the food I made:

Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Chips, Carrots and Cucumbers
Chocolate Flourless Cake
Pavlovas

Are you wondering what Pavlovas are? My mouth is watering just thinking of them. My mother-in-law found this recipe for her only daughter's (M.) wedding reception. M. got married in New Zealand in November, so the reception was in VA in December. Her five brothers couldn't make it to New Zealand (let me tell you how SORRY I was that WE couldn't). But, what would one expect with Dr. Oldest Brother, Attorney S., Law Student 3rd, Missionary in Japan, and Freshman at Princeton. We're all either creating debt, in debt, or paying off debt.

These Pavlovas are great for Easter because they look like little nests.

Pavlovas

2 egg whites at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Put the egg whites in a large, clean bowl and whisk until soft peaks form (I use my electric mixer).

Add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition. Continue whisking until eggs are stiff and glossy. With a rubber spatula, fold in vanilla and additional flavoring, if you are using.

Meringue variations:
Fold 2 tsp sifted cocoa powder in with vanilla
Fold 2 T ground blanched hazelnuts in with vanilla
Fold 1 T dark brown sugar in with vanilla
Fold 1 T chopped, unsalted pistachios with vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use the tip of two teaspoons to place small walnut-sized spoonfuls of meringue 1 inch apart on parchment paper. Make an indention on the center of each meringue with the back of a teaspoon. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn temperature down to 250 degrees. Continue baking until firm to the touch, 20 minutes. Cool completely before removing from parchment paper.

**You can make up to this point two days in advance. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

1/3 cup whip cream
1 T sugar
1 kiwi
20 raspberries, blackberries or strawberry pieces
2 tsp powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Whip cream until it holds soft peaks. Add sugar. Set aside. Peel and cut kiwi into 6 slices, then each slice into fourths. Wash and dry berries. Place whip cream on meringues, and top with one kiwi slice, one berry and dust with powdered sugar. (Can be assembled up to 3 hours in advance, store at room temperature. I usually just have everything cut and whipped, and put them together just before serving). These are SO easy, but they are such a hit. My kids can DOWN them!

4 comments:

Domestic Chicky said...

What a great site! The pictures are amazing! I am looking forward to exploring more-thank you for stopping by my blog!

Stephanie said...

Julie, I just noticed your comment on my blog, Stephmodo, and the funny thing about you posting a comment today is that I was just thinking about you and your husband Sam yesterday (strange I know given that I don't really know you and have met you only once at Reb's).

Here is how the train of thought went....first I started thinking about dear Rebecca and her upcoming surgery...and how Dan was doing...and how ironic it is that my freshman year roommate at BYU (in 1995) was in love with Dan's brother's friend (Sam is the brother)...a tall blond friend--I don't remember his name but anyway. There's my stream of consciousness. Then of course I started thinking about my roommate and it went on.

Your blog looks fun too. I love to cook and entertain, although these days with 3 kids it doesn't happen as much as it used to. I look forward to checking your blog often...in fact I'll bookmark it!

Have a great day "Jules"!

....Stephanie

Amy Whisenant said...

Thanks Julie! I made them for the Book and Pudding club and doubled the recipe. I threw the rest of the uncooked stuff out after 70 were out of the oven. I shouldn't have! I put aside about ten for Rob and he ate all of them in about 3 minutes!

AmyWS said...

making these again tonight! any new good fruit recipes you are dying to share??