There are nine chapters: soups and starters, fish & shellfish, meat, poultry, weekend lunches, vegetables and salads, desserts, quick nibbles & drinks, bits, bobs & basics. There are so many great dishes in this book and they come with 'Get Ahead' tips showing you how far you can prepare before the meal. This is an ideal book for anyone who new to entertaining or is concerned about which dishes to make and getting their dishes to the table on time! You can wow your guests with Vietnamese Herby Chicken with Nutty Green Rice Salad or Salmon en Croute with Lime and Coriander Sauce
Even if you don't do much entertaining, there are some great recipes to eat with the family, like the Quick Creamy Smoked Haddock Saffron and Chive Risotto and Spicy Sausage, Lamb and Bean Bake.
However, I was drawn to one particular dessert, not only because it contains some of my favourite flavours, but also because it fits perfectly with the July 'We should Cocoa' challenge which requires a combination of Blackcurrants and Chocolate.
Chocolate and Berry PavlovaServes 8-10
4 egg whites
a pinch of salt
280g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp cocoa powder plus extra for dusting
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp white wine vinegar
500g frozen mixed berries (I used frozen blackcurrants and redcurrants and fresh raspberries)
50g good quality plain or white chocolate
425ml double cream
Icing sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 140C (275F), gas 1 and line a flat baking sheet with foil or baking parchment. Whisk the eff whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, then add 225g of the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking it in well between each addition. The mixture will be very thick and shiny. When all the sugar is incorporated add the cornflour, cocoa powder, vanilla essence and vinegar and whisk well again.
Pile the mixture onto the lined baking sheet and mould it into a flattish round shape, roughly 20-25cm across and 4cm deep. Make a dip in the middle using a metal spoon. Cook for 45 minutes, then turn the oven off leaving the pavlova inside until cold, without opening the door. Carefully peel off the foil.
Put the frozen berries into a non-reactive pan with the rest of the sugar. Warm gently over a low heat, just until the fruit has thawed, trying not to break it up. Tip into a sieve over a bowl and leave to drain for 15 minutes or so. Pour the juice back into the pan and boil fast, giving it the odd stir, until it has reduced to a syrupy consistency and just coats the back of the wooden spoon. Leave to cool. It will thicken up much more when cold.
Melt the chocolate in a small bowl suspended over a pan of hot water or in a microwave and carefully brush over the inside of the pavlova. Dust the outside with cocoa powder, then icing sugar (I forgot to do this!)
Whip the cream lightly into soft peaks and spoon into the centre of the pavlova. Mix the berries and the sauce together (this is when I added the fresh raspberries) and spoon over the top.
The pavlova can be made several weeks in advance,wrapped tightly in clingfilm and kept somewhere cool and dry. The chocolate can be brushed over a few days in advance. Make the fruit compote several days in advance and keep the fruit and sauce covered separately in the fridge, or freeze. Only mix together just before using. The cream can be whipped as early as you like on the day but should be under whipped as it will thicken up whist in the fridge.
Hints and Tips
Leave out the cocoa if you prefer and the chocolate too.
Cracks don't matter at all and most of them can be concealed by the filling if you so wish
I've never brushed chocolate on my pavlovas before, but it is absolutely brilliant and really adds to the rich, earthy flavours of the berries without overpowering them. I would highly recommend this recipe and will be bookmarking more recipes in Make it Easy which is available through a popular on line bookshop for £14.99.
Chocolate Log Blog
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinion expressed is my own.