Summer Fruit Pavlova

Summer Fruit Pavlova

I have to say successfully making this Pavlova was one of my finest moments in the kitchen. I remember thinking Pavlova was the fanciest dessert ever when I was growing up. But for as long as I can remember, the thought of making meringue has scared me. There are too many variables in meringue making and the fact that something can go wrong at any point in the process just stresses me out. I spent quite a bit of time reading old cookbooks and consulting the websites of chefs I trust for learning something new. The end result was a smashing success. I was so proud!

Summer Fruit Pavlova

I made this a bit earlier in the summer for my wonderful mother’s birthday, so depending on where you are peaches and cherries might not be at the peak. As far as  fruit selection goes, you can’t really go wrong. Personally, I would stick to berries and stone fruits, but there are endless combinations that would be delicious.

Summer Fruit Pavlova


Summer Fruit Pavlova


For the Pavlova
  • 4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon white wine or distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Whipped Cream
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Fruit Topping
  • 2-3 cups of mixed berries or fruits of choice.


For the Pavlova
  1. Preheat oven to 250°F (130°C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch (18 cm) circle on the paper.
  2. Pour the vanilla and vinegar into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
  3. In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar (if you didn’t use cream of tartar.) Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Gently spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges, making sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center. (You want a slight well in the center of the meringue to place the whipped cream and fruit.)
  6. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the outside is dry and takes on a very pale cream color. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven. (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.)
For the Whipped Cream
  1. Whip the cream in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar gradually and then the vanilla, beating the cream until firm. Be careful not to over-do it, or might end up with a bowl of sweet homemade butter.
  1. Invert the meringue disk onto a plate and spread the top completely with sweetened whipped cream. Spoon the fruit carefully into the middle of the Pavlova, leaving a border of cream and meringue.

Thirsty Thursday: Fresh Cherry Margaritas

Cherry Margaritas

It’s Fiesta time here in Santa Barbara (you might have noticed a subtle theme this week). This year I am planning on avoiding it like the plague. One day down, and 100% successful so far! I go through phases with Fiesta. It’s kind of a love-hate thing. Despite my avoidance of Fiesta, my love of all things Mexican will never diminish. Cherry margaritas might be the perfect combination of summer and Fiesta. It’s, tragically, the end of cherry season here, so I’m trying to use them in any form I can. Fresh cherry margs take it to a new level. Muddling the cherries creates an amazing juice (if only I could make it in mass quantities). If you live in an area where cherries are still available, I would highly recommend making these as soon as you can!

Fresh Cherry Margaritas

  • 12 fresh sweet cherries, pitted
  • 2½ tablespoons tequila
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1½ tablespoons (or more) simple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon maraschino cherry liqueur (or maraschino juice)
  • 1 fresh cherry with stem, for garnish
  1. Put the cherries in a cocktail shaker. Mash them with a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon until well crushed, about 1 minute. Add the tequila, lime juice, simple syrup, and 8 large ice cubes. Cover the shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Immediately strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with the fresh cherry.

Dried Cherry-Cranberry Sauce

I’m a big fan of cranberry sauce. Freshly made cranberry sauce, none of that canned business. Even though my friend Lauren tried to persuade me of the merits of canned cranberry sauce, I just don’t get it. Fresh is where it’s at. I don’t really have a go to recipe for cranberry sauce, I like to try something different every year. This one piqued my interest when I first saw it in Cooking Light and it turned out to be delicious, tart and not too sweet, which is perfect in my book.

Dried Cherry-Cranberry Sauce (from Cooking Light, Nov. 2011, p149 or here)

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup port wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange rind
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup cherry juice
  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté for 4 minutes. Add sugar and the next 4 ingredients (through cranberries); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 8 minutes or until cranberries pop. Remove from heat, and stir in orange rind.
  2. Combine dried cherries and cherry juice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Drain. Add drained cherries to cranberry sauce. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Blackbird Bakery Gluten Free Maraschino-Marzipan Kisses!

And we’re back! There have been a few speed bumps and lost of busy days in the real world, so this little blog has been very neglected. Now that trips are done, puppies are better, food allergies are diagnosed and things are getting back to normal, it’s time to get back to business!

Let’s talk about baking, because who doesn’t like baking? Nobody, that’s who!

Gluten-free baking can be super daunting to the uninitiated. Having to combine multiple kinds of expensive, flours with strange names (sorghum, millet, guar gum, xanthan gum, say what?) seems like way too much effort most of the time when you are just trying to whip up some treats in a hurry. While I absolutely love to bake, I’ve been very hesitant about getting involved in gluten-free baking. Nearly every store-bought gluten-free dessert or sweet I had tried has been absolutely horrible, unless oddly sweeten cardboard is your thing…

Enter Blackbird Bakery’s book! This is the first gluten free baking book I’ve bought and I really like it. As obsessed as I am with my Kindle, I still love the feel of a good book. Blackbird Bakery Gluten Free is a very high quality cookbook with great pictures and very interesting recipes. I like the fact that the author/baker Karen Morgan lays out the recipes in clear terms and makes it all seem very approachable. The beginning of the book contains a nice little glossary that explains all sorts of things about different type of gluten free flours and ingredients and how they might be used. It was such a useful thing to read and made me feel like I could understand and tackle any baking endeavor.

The first cookies I made were super simple and fast and very tasty.

Maraschino-Marzipan Kisses

From Blackbird Bakery Gluten Free

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3/8 tsp. pure almond extract
  • 2 cups sliced almonds, coarsely crushed
  • 1 lb. jar maraschino cherries, drained (I used the jarred cherries from Trader Joe’s, they aren’t maraschino)
1. Pre-heat oven to 375F and line two baking sheets with parchment or silpats.
2. In a food processor combine the almond flour and sugar and mix for a few seconds.
3. Add the egg whites and almond extract and mix on high until the dough pulls together into a sticky mass and forms a ball.
4. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop out dough and transfer it to a flat surface (the cookbook says you should have about 18 balls of dough, I had a lot more).
5. Take 2 shallow bowls or pie dishes, place the almonds in one and water in another. Dip the palm of one hand in the water and wet the other palm.
6. Take one of the dough balls and place it in the palm of your non-dominant hand. Gently press the ball into a disk. Place a single cherry in the middle of the dish and then carefully lift the edges of the disk up and around the cherry. Roll the cookie between your hands to form a ball. (Make sure to keep your hands moist with the water so the dough doesn’t stick!)
7. Roll the finished ball in the crushed almonds and try to coat evenly. Place the dough ball on one of the prepared pans. Repeat until all the cookies have been made.
8. Bake 1 pan at a time for 10 minutes, rotating halfway through.
9. Remove from the oven and let cool on pan for 5 minutes then transfer until wire rack to cool.
10. Serve and enjoy!
The cookies turned out to be rather delicious. The dough smelled slightly like marzipan, but tasted much better. The combination of cherry and almond was quite enjoyable. Despite looking kind of fancy, these cookies were easy to make.

Izzy wanted some too!