Monday, 16 December 2013

Pavlova with Clementines in a Cointreau Syrup

Inspired by my previous post, where I used clementines with chocolate in a marble cake, I decided to explore other ways to use this delicious fruit. If I’m being honest, I purchased a very large crate of clementines, because they were so inexpensive as they are in season. This is one of the great benefits of buying in bulk and also in season…the unit costs are so much lower!

Anyway, I now have a mountain of clementines that I will be using to experiment with in various recipes over the next couple of weeks. But, in truth, I’m not going to apologise for the amount of recipes to appear in the near future which will include clementines, because this is what canny cooks do – they buy what’s abundant and good value at different times of the year and find creative ways to use the produce.

I have decided to keep it simple here and I am giving a recipe for a pavlova. Pavolvas are essentially just meringues but they also include generous amounts of lightly whipped clouds of cream and are usually served with whatever fruits that are in season.  Nuts and chocolate can also be added but as I have already announced, I have kept it simple with this recipe and used clementines alone. To enhance the clementines and accentuate their orangey, citrus flavour, I soaked them in advance in sugar syrup laced with Cointreau – an orange flavoured liqueur.

What I aim to show here is that with minimal skills in the use of a piping bag, the most gorgeous and delicious dessert can be created.
      

Ingredients:

For the Cointreau soaked clementines:
5 clementines, peeled, white pith removed and segmented
100ml water
100g caster sugar
2 tablespoons of Cointreau
For the pavlova discs:
175g caster sugar
3 large egg whites
For the meringue kisses:
225g caster sugar
4 large egg whites
To finish:
500ml single cream, lightly whipped
 

Method:

To make the Cointreau soaked clementines:
1. Put the water and caster sugar into a small pan and heat until boiling. Let bubble away for about three minutes without colouring until you have a clear syrupy mixture. Remove from the heat and allow cool for three or four minutes. Add the Cointreau and stir through gently. Add the segmented clementines and set aside to cool. Once cool, cover with cling film and refrigerate until required.
For the pavlova discs:
2. Preheat the oven to 140C/Fan Oven 120C/Gas Mark 1. Mark out three 18cm circles on three pieces of non-stick baking parchment and place each piece of baking parchment on a baking tray.
3. Place the egg whites in a spotlessly clean bowl and whisk them until they are standing in soft peaks in the bowl. Gradually add the caster sugar and whisk well between each addition to ensure that the sugar is fully incorporated.
4. Divide the mixture evenly between the tree circles and using the back of a metal spoon, spread out to form three discs, using the pre-drawn circles as a guide.
5. Bake for 90 minutes until the meringues are crisp and dry. Turn off the oven and allow the pavlova discs to cool, with the oven door slightly ajar for about an hour.
To make the meringue kisses:
6. Pre-heat the oven to 140C/Fan Oven 120C/Gas Mark 1. Line three baking trays with fresh non-stick baking parchment.
7. Following the method given above, place the egg whites in a bowl and when you have reached the soft peak stage, gradually incorporate the caster sugar.
8. Once the meringue is made, spoon it into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe out approximately 60 meringue kisses about 4cm in diameter.
9. Place into the preheated oven and bake for an hour. Again, turn off the oven, leaving the door slightly ajar and allow to cool for about an hour.
To assemble:
10. Whip the cream lightly until it is standing in softly billowing peaks which just hold their shape. Place one of the pavlova discs on your serving plate and top with a layer of cream about 1cm deep.
11. Scatter over a third of the Cointreau soaked clementines. Place the second pavlova disc on top and as before top with a layer of cream and one third of the clementines. Top with the remaining disc.
12. Cover the side of the pavlova with the remaining cream and then gently press the meringue kisses into the cream so that the peak of each is pointing out. Top the pavlova with the remaining clementines.
 
Serves 8-10.