in season

Pistachio Meringues with Strawberry and Black Pepper Compote

Shake up the classic British pavlova by combining seasonal strawberries with black pepper, tangy creme fraiche and pistachio meringues; the combination of sweet, spicy and savoury balances beautifully and is a great dessert option for casual summer evenings.

Ingredients (makes 12):

  • 300g caster sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • pinch salt
  • 125g chopped pistachios
  • 400g strawberries
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  • splash water
  • cracked black pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line 2 trays with greaseproof paper (you can secure this down with a little meringue once it’s made).
  2. Put the sugar on a baking tray and heat for 10 minutes in the oven until hot to the touch (not melting), then set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 120c.
  3. Place the egg whites in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk until you reach medium peak. Add one third of the hot sugar and increase the whisking speed until well incorporated. Add the remaining sugar in 2 additions, whisking well between each. You should eventually have a thick glossy meringue with no grains of sugar. Tip the chopped pistachios onto the meringue and fold in gently. Spoon the meringue into piles on the prepared trays and smooth into your desired shapes.
  4. Bake for 1-1/2 hours until the meringues can be peeled from the paper with ease. Once baked, turn the oven off and leave to cool with the door closed (to prevent cracking).
  5. Now make the strawberry compote; place the strawberries, sugar and water in a saucepan and heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts and the strawberries release some juices. Now just cook until your desired consistency is achieved (I like to keep the fruit whole where possible but you can break down the strawberries by cooking for longer if a smoother result is what you’re after).
  6. Cool the compote and serve up with a generous spoonful of creme fraiche (or lightly whipped chantilly cream) and a crisp but chewy pistachio meringue.

Enjoy!

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Rhubarb and Custard Eclairs

After catching up with last weeks Patisserie round on Bake Off, I decided to whip up my own eclairs using some rhubarb from the garden… What I came up with combines crisp choux pastry filled with stewed rhubarb and a delicious vanilla custard- what’s not to like?

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First, make the vanilla custard filling. For this you will need: 300ml milk, 2 egg yolks, 50g caster sugar, 1 vanilla pod, 4tsp plain flour, 4tsp cornflour, 300ml double cream (lightly whipped).

Mix together your egg yolks, caster sugar and the seeds from the vanilla pod in a bowl. After these are well combined gradually add the flours a little at a time, making sure you mix well between each addition.

Now heat your milk in a saucepan until just boiling. Add to the paste-like mix in the bowl and whisk, then return to the saucepan and heat for 3-5  minutes (or until well thickened). If it becomes lumpy, just whisk more vigorously.

Transfer to a bowl and cover with clingfilm to avoid a skin forming. After half an hour the custard will become almost set- now you need to stir to loosen then fold in the cream- your filling is now ready for piping!

Now prepare the rhubarb element of the filling; you will need: 3 sticks rhubarb, 3tbsp ginger syrup, 4tbsp caster sugar.

Heat the oven to 180c (fan).

Roughly chop the rhubarb and spread onto a baking tray. Drizzle over the ginger syrup and sprinkle on the caster sugar then cook for 15-20 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft.

Using the back of a fork squash the rhubarb and transfer to a bowl. It should be sticky and soft. Leave to cool.

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For the choux pastry, I followed Paul Hollywood’s basic recipe. You can find that here .

To assemble the eclairs, you will need: your choux buns, the vanilla custard, the roasted rhubarb, a sprinkling of ginger, 5tbsp icing sugar with a little water and food dye, and some crystallised ginger for decoration (optional).

Slice your choux buns in half horizontally. Take a piping bag and fill with the vanilla custard. Pipe little dots of the filling inside the bottom half of the bun until covered.

Now take your rhubarb and place on top of the custard layer (as pictured above). Close the lids on top.

Mix the icing sugar with a little water and food dye and drizzle over the tops of the buns for added sweetness, then place a piece of crystallised ginger at one end with a mint leaf as a final flourish.

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I hope you enjoy this latest recipe!

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