So first things first happy new year everyone! Now we can all happily wave goodbye to 2016 with a general sigh of relief and look towards a hopeful 2017 with it’s first few sober and sweaty months at the gym until we all discover wine and chocolate again. Let’s face it, it’s going to happen, and I will be here with my blog helping you all fail along the way (cue evil laugh). But on a more positive note, I hope you all had a wonderful new years eve (and I do wish you luck really). Anyway, back to the baking…
I spent my new years eve with some of my Westfield girls who I did a dinner party for in a post a few months back and it’s safe to say it didn’t disappoint. Sophie threw us all a great evening, complete with Marguerita’s and her Mum’s famous Paella. After a few bottles of Prosecco, some questionable dancing and a poor rendition of Robbie Williams’Angels’ we all made it home in one piece. However, the reason any of this is even relevant to my blog is because I was asked to make a dessert. It needed to be special without resulting in too much trauma on my behalf, so I eventually decided to go with a hazelnut and salted caramel pavlova. Although in some ways it was quite similar to a Dacquoise (bake off you have taught me well), it was definitely a lot more simple and a lot less refined.
Again I based my recipe unsurprisingly on a few different ones from BBC Good Food, but on the whole it consisted of 3 hazelnut meringue layers sandwiched with a salted caramel infused cream and topped with a hazelnut praline, a chocolate amarula sauce and a few Malteasers and Lindors etc.
After feeling like I had finally cracked meringues in my post for Lauren’s Vegas Cake, I felt brave enough to tackle them again and, to an extent, they went well. I still get my baking times confused between electric and fan assisted ovens and how temperatures in recipes are based, so mine could have been cooked a little more as they still stuck to the greaseproof. However, I will consider this in my recipe below. Otherwise I basically just added some hazelnuts to the meringue, some amarula to the chocolate sauce and some whipped cream to salted caramel and viola! Although it didn’t look quite as pretty as I’d hoped it tasted delicious and is perfect for an event or celebration. The meringue was crispy but soft inside and the caramel had the perfect balance of salt without being overpowering. This, I will admit, is largely down to taste, but as long as you are careful with the amount you add you should be fine. Either way I hope you enjoy!
Hazelnut and Salted Caramel Pavlova (Serves approx. 9)
For the Hazelnut Meringue:
- 4 egg whites
- 225g caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- Pinch of salt
- 50g Hazelnuts.
For the Salted Caramel Infused Whipped Cream:
- 45g light soft brown sugar
- 75ml double cream
- 15g butter
- Salt, to taste
- At least 250ml whipped cream
For the Chocolate and Amarula Sauce
- 25g dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids
- 15g butter
- 60ml double cream
- 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1tbsp amarula (optional)
For the Hazelnut Praline
- 50g caster sugar
- 50g hazelnuts
- For the meringues preheat your oven to 170C/ 150C Fan/ 340F.
- Whisk the egg whites in a stand mixer on a slow speed until they form small peaks. Increase the speed and then add all the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time. Once all the sugar is added continue to whisk until all the sugar has dissolved. You can tell when the mix no longer feels grainy when you rub it between your fingers; this will take a few minutes.
- While the meringue is whisking blitz the hazelnuts in a food processor. When the meringue is ready gently fold in the hazelnuts until evenly dispersed.
- Draw 3 circles, all the same size, onto some greaseproof paper and lay on 3 baking trays. Share the mix evenly between each layer, spreading the mix so each one fills the circle. Bake all the layers for 25 minutes, but do not open the door. Leave the meringues in the oven for at least another hour so they can continue to cook slowly.
- While the meringue is cooking, make the salted caramel cream, the chocolate sauce and the praline. These can be done in any order as long as the caramel and the praline are cool before assembled.
- For the caramel cream combine all the ingredients except the whipped cream in a saucepan and set over a low heat. Stir until all the sugar and butter has dissolved, then turn up the heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring until the sauce has thickened. Take off the heat and leave to cool slightly before adding the salt to taste, being careful not to burn yourself. I would suggest roughly a quarter of a teaspoon, but this is up to you. Once you have added the salt leave to cool completely.
- For the praline put the sugar in a saucepan over a low heat and leave to melt. Do not stir the sugar at this time as it will crystallise. Once melted, add the hazelnuts and carefully coat them in the caramel. Leave to cook for another couple of minutes and turn out onto some greaseproof paper to set.
- To make the chocolate sauce melt the chocolate in a microwave. Put the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. When thoroughly combined add the melted chocolate and stir. This will need to be slightly warm when you assemble the pavlova, but if it cools too much you can easily warm it through again.
- Once everything has cooled you can start putting it all together. Whisk the caramel sauce into the whipped cream, again adding enough to taste. Then sandwich each layer of meringue with the cream and add a final layer on top. Arrange your praline and decorations on top of the pavlova. I used lindors, malteasers, dark chocolate savings and more chopped hazelnuts. Once you are happy with your decoration, drizzle over the chocolate sauce with a fork.