Friday, February 25, 2011
Pavlova's with Orange Curd
Connie was at the grocery and I was in the kitchen starting preparations for our Valentine's Day feast. I looked down and saw half of a bag of oranges. We'd not planned on a dessert but suddenly orange curd sounded good. After all, lemon curd is pretty darned good on anything. So, orange curd had to be equally good. And, there were a lot of oranges to use up.
Backtrack here for a moment. When I was in high school I was fortunate to be a part of People to People High School Student Ambassadors. With 28 other kids and three chaperones, we visited nine countries in the span of six weeks. It was an amazing trip. Back in those days, my experience with "international" food pretty much consisted of chop suey. So, getting to break bread with families in other countries was fascinating. My favorite new food find was lemon curd. Fast forward twenty years and I'd still never seen the stuff in the U.S. But, I did find a recipe. Did I make it? Nope. Never got around to it. Probably because it wasn't written in traditional American measurements and I didn't want to deal with translating it. So easy to do now with the internet... Then, magically, it appeared in the grocery in the British specialty section. It was just as good as I remembered. Finally, a couple of years ago, I made homemade lemon curd. It was easy and oh, SO much better than the preservative packed jar type. At that point I decided lime curd and orange curd would be on my list of things to make. I'd just never gotten around to making either of them. Until our Valentine's Day feast.
I checked my blog to see if I'd posted the lemon curd recipe I made. No such luck. On to Word where I have loads of recipes stored. Again, no luck. Cookbooks or the internet? Cookbooks are more fun. There's something about hunting for a recipe and getting to stroll down the index and see other possibilities. But, the internet is quicker and I knew time was short. I found an Alton Brown recipe and figured it could be modified for oranges.
The orange curd turned out to be wonderful in spite of two things. First, I didn't think through the fact that lemons are considerably more tart than oranges. I should have reduced the amount of sugar. Second, I was using up eggs from Sam's. I'd bought the 36 pack for Samantha's bridesmaids brunch. The eggs weren't large so I needed a couple extra yolks to get the curd to set up.
So, there I was. A lovely bowl of orange curd. And seven egg whites in a bowl. I hate to waste egg whites but I didn't want to toss something else in the freezer. What to do? How about a meringue? OHHH, how about a Pavlova. I'd read about Pavlovas but had never made one. Back to the internet. I found one on FoodNetwork by Gale Gand. Perfect. And, even better we had kiwi and blackberries to top it off.
The meringue went together really easily. It was glossy and beautiful. The recipe called for drawing a 9" circle on parchment paper and spooning the meringue into the circle, then baking it. I really wanted something individual. So, I filled a plastic bag with the meringue, snipped the corner and piped four individual Pavlovas. Now, I've never piped meringue before. This was quite the experience. The Pavlovas weren't gorgeous, but they certainly tasted wonderful!
5 large egg yolks or 7 medium
3/4-1 c sugar
2- 3 oranges, zested and juiced - enough to make 1/3 c of juice
1 stick butter, cut into pats - keep the butter cold
Put the egg yolks and sugar in a double boiler set over simmering water.
Make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl. Whisk them until smooth.
Add the juice and zest and continue to whisk. It'll take about 8 minutes of whisking for the curd to thicken. You want it to coat the back of a spoon. Now, it's time to add the butter.
Remove the bowl from the heat and add the butter one pat at a time. It's rather a race to get the butter incorporated while the curd is still warm enough to melt it but still add the butter one pat at a time, waiting to add the next pat after the prior one has melted in...
You can refrigerate this for up to two weeks. We love it slathered on good toast.
1/2 c egg whites at room temp (4 large eggs or 5-6 medium eggs)
1/8 t cream of tartar
1/8 t salt
1 c granulated sugar
1 1/2 t cornstarch
1 T red wine vinegar
1/2 t vanilla
kiwi and blackberries, for serving
Preheat your oven to 350. Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until frothy.
You want to make sure your bowl and beaters are clean and dry. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until stiff peaks form. The meringue will be very glossy.
Now you can either draw a 9" circle on parchment paper or draw four smaller circles.
If you use the single, spoon the meringue into the circle, smoothing the top. If you use the four smaller circles, spoon the meringue into a plastic bag. Snip the corner off and pipe the meringue into the circles.
Bake the meringues for 10 mintues at 350 then reduce the heat to 300 and bake them for an additional 45 minutes. The meringues will be lightly browned and will have cracked a bit on top. DO NOT open the oven door while you're baking them! Once the 45 minutes is over, turn off the oven and crack the door open.
Leave it that way for 30 minutes to allow the meringues to cool gradually. That'll help keep them from collapsing.
To serve, put one pavlova on a plate,
top with kiwi slices and blackberries.
Drizzle with orange curd.