raspberry pavlova

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Hope you’re having a wonderful week so far! I’m spending the morning and early afternoon working on various projects, then teaching two classes for Communication Academy later this afternoon, and then I’m headed into the city to go to a Giants game with Allyn and his business school classmates. It will be my first Giants game and I’m excited!

Before I leap into my writing for the day, I wanted to share this amazing dessert recipe from Easter that our family friend Diana made. It’s a Russian dessert named after the ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. We were all blown away! It is light and fresh — the perfect dessert for spring or summer.

I know it looks complicated, and there are a lot of steps to this recipe, but Diana assured me it is actually quite simple to make. And I can assure you it is quite delicious!

easter dessert

diana’s raspberry pavlova
{adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe}

– 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
– pinch of salt
– 1 cup sugar
– 2 teaspoons cornstarch
– 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
– 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 2 pints fresh raspberries {1/2 pint for the sauce, the rest for topping}

homemade whipped cream:
– 1 cup cold heavy cream
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

homemade raspberry sauce:
– 1/2 pint fresh raspberries
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 cup seedless raspberry jam
– 1 tablespoon framboise liqueur

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees F and place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking pan. Draw a circle on the paper, using a 9-inch plate as a guide, then turn the paper over so you can see the circle through the paper but won’t get any ink or pencil on the meringue.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the egg whites and salt. Beat the egg whites on high speed for about one minute until firm. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat for about two minutes, until it makes firm, shiny peaks. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

3. Sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites and add the vanilla and vinegar. Now fold ingredients lightly with a rubber spatula.

4. Pile the meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it within the circle, making a rough disk. Don’t stress out — it doesn’t have to be perfect!

5. Bake for 1 and 1/2 hours. Then turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven {will take about 1 hour.} It should be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.

6. While you’re waiting for it to cool, make your raspberry sauce: Place the raspberries, sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for four minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and framboise into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Chill.

7. Also make your whipped cream by whipping the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer or with a hand mixer. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until firm. {Diana adds a caution not to overbeat!}

8. To assemble: invert the meringue disk onto a plate and spread the top completely with your homemade whipped cream. Combine the fresh raspberries in a bowl with about 1/2 cup of your homemade raspberry sauce, enough to coat the berries lightly. Spoon the berries into the middle of the Pavlova. Slice and serve immediately with extra raspberry sauce if desired.

Enjoy! Diana also added that you can easily adapt this recipe to use other fruit of your choosing, such as strawberries or blueberries.

Hope you’re having a wonderful day, friends! Eat something delicious!

perfect pumpkin pie

Happy weekend, everyone! Sorry that I didn’t get a pumpkin recipe up yesterday … with Greg coming into town and my GRE test this morning, it kind of slipped by the wayside. But I’m happy to report that Pumpkin Week is back today!

I shared in a post last month that I made a delicious pumpkin pie … and that I also made a disaster of a pumpkin pie! Seriously, it was pretty gross. It never seemed fully cooked, so I kept putting it back in the oven for longer and longer, and then the top started to kind of peel away from the rest of the {still-uncooked-seeming} pumpkin mixture. Imagine a creme brulee or pudding sort of thing happening, only on pumpkin pie.

Not. Good.

I was so disheartened I didn’t even take pictures of it. The bad embarrassed blogger in me just tossed it into the trash. I wish now I would have taken pictures so I could have shown it to you. {Thanks to Bonnie at Recipes Happen for encouraging all of us to embrace our mistakes, laugh about them, and learn from them!} Alas, I did not take pictures, so you’ll just have to imagine it and take my word that it was baaaaad.

Here’s what I think happened: I tried substituting truvia for the sugar, and something about that mixture didn’t work out. I don’t know if I added too much of it, or too little, or if just my pie happened to be unlucky, or what. Have any of you tried baking with a sugar substitute like truvia or splenda? Any tips or advice? As you know, I’m always trying to find ways to make recipes healthier! But maybe sometimes, like in the case of pumpkin pie, it’s best to stick with the basics. 😉

I’ve also tried making pumpkin pie with both evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk, and I must say that I like the sweetened condensed version better. It’s a little creamier texture-wise, and has a good balance of sweetness and pumpkiny goodness. My latest experiment has been trying reduced fat sweetened condensed milk, which I’m happy to report tasted just as delicious with fewer calories! Hooray for small victories.

In the past I’ve always used pre-made graham cracker crust from the grocery store  but in the future I’m hoping to try making my own graham cracker crust {or even my own graham crackers after being inspired by this post by Jill at Reini Days!} I’ll keep you posted! I also am very generous with spices, particularly cinnamon. If you’re not the biggest cinnamon fan, you might adjust the spices to fit your tastes.

perfect pumpkin pie

– 1 graham cracker crust {I like the reduced fat version just fine}
– 1 can pumpkin
– 1 can reduced fat sweetened condensed milk
– 2 eggs
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp cloves
– 1/2 tsp ginger
– 1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Combine pumpkin with spices and vanilla.

3. Beat eggs and add to pumpkin mixture.

4. Add sweetened condensed milk and beat well.

5. Pour pie filling into graham cracker crust.

6. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake for another 40-45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.

Serve with whipped cream on top for the perfect pie experience!

YUM! I love pumpkin pie.

I’m in the mood for celebrating now that my GRE exam is over … hooray for the weekend! 🙂 Hope you are having a wonderful day!

-Dallas

marvelous monday & happy october! baked cinnamon-sugar donut holes

There has been a briskness in the air lately that feels just. so. autumn! It’s lovely. It makes me want to curl up under a cozy blanket with a cup of tea and a good book. {If you’re looking for a good book, I’ve been devouring Elizabeth Berg’s novels lately … I fell in love with her novels Durable Goods and Joy School back in high school, and she is an author I can always return to and feel like, YES, she gets it — this is why I want to be a writer, this is what I want my books to do for people! I nearly always have at least one good, full-hearted cry while reading her books, and I always feel sad to finish them because I don’t want to leave her characters. I’m reading Open House right now and it is wonderful!}

But, yes, back to autumn … I was thrilled when Maria at Two Peas & Their Pod put together this fantastic list of 50 pumpkin recipes! I found myself checking off every one: yes, I want to make that; ooh, that looks delicious; yes, that one, too! Like a kid in a toy store a week before Christmas: I want them all! 🙂

One of the recipes that immediately caught my attention was baked donut-holes. I’m always looking for a way to health-i-fy things. Hmmm, homemade baked donut holes? Why not give it a whirl?

I am SO glad I did! They are pretty much mini-muffins, but roll them in cinnamon-sugar and they do taste like donut holes. These are pumpkiny, cinnamon-sugary, and perfect for autumn. Make them for breakfast and eat them warm from the oven with a big glass of milk!

baked cinnamon-sugar donut holes

ingredients:

For the Donuts:
1 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned plain pumpkin {not pumpkin pie filling}
1/2 cup skim milk

For the Coating:
4 tsp unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a mini muffin tin with baking spray and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. In a separate, large bowl whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

3. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

4. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

5. While the muffins bake, melt butter in one bowl and combine granulated sugar and cinnamon in another bowl.

6. Remove muffins from oven and cool for 2 minutes. Dip each muffin in melted butter, then roll in cinnamon sugar to coat. Serve muffins warm or at room temperature.

{This recipe is adapted from The Craving Chronicles.}

YUM. And easy! And {for a donut} relatively healthy, too! Hard to beat that. 🙂

Happy autumn!
-Dallas

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Time spent: about 30 minutes
Cost: about $5