Mainly because I was pretty hesitant for months about starting a food blog. I'll be honest, the word blogger is one that makes me cringe and the word blog is one I associate with this scene. There really wasn't much hope to begin with except that I love taking photos of the food I make (given that the lighting is decent and all that photography mumbo jumbo). In the end, I seriously thought about it for one month before pondering a name for another three months and finally wrote and posted about cake.
So here we are, one year later...
where I am pleased that people do come everyday (although my numbers may be small)
where I once got featured on Buzzfeed
where I've had many drastic kitchen mishaps
where I've had a chance to connect with new people
but mostly, where I've had the chance to just share the food I make and the adventures I've been on with whoever stumbles across my corner of the internet
I've also learned more about image optimization, social media, Google Analytics, coding, spam emails and SEO than I'd like.
But, I've also grown in photography, writing, design and general food making which makes up for all the other back end stuff that is such a bore.
So, for my second year, I strive to get even better at all the above things, share more (I photograph way faster than it takes me to write a post), make my site the best it can be (I'm looking at you a mess of a Recipes page) and most of all continue to have fun with this. Me a year ago wouldn't have thought blogging was as fun as I find it now.
Now, about this pavlova...
I've had a vision of this for several months. It began with a macaron-type cookie I had at the Vail Farmer's Market in Colorado. The cookie is not pictured in those photos (probably because it was consumed too fast on the road), but I remember it being about 6-inches in diameter with a deep chocolate flavor. It was chewy, nutty, gooey, and did I mention chocolatey? I've never had a cookie like that and I wasn't quite sure how to recreate it so it's been in my noggin for months. Since watching The Great British Bake Off, where meringue desserts are in abundance, I thought I could recreate that cookie starting with pavlova.
The first time I ever had pavlova was during a baking class I took when I was in 9th grade. It was more on the high end of baking classes with lots of stainless steel, convection ovens and professional looking equipment. One of the desserts we made was pavlova with mango. Needless to say, that was the day I also had the best pastrami sandwich I've ever had, but that pavlova stuck in my mind because I liked the chewiness of that meringue in contrast with the soft whipped cream and tangy mango. Unfortunately, that chewiness was lacking in the pavlova I had during our last group meal when I studied abroad. And I haven't had it since then.
So maybe I was inspired by this pavlova or childhood memories of making meringue cookies. Whatever it was, I'm pleased my vision came to life even if I still haven't figured out the cookie.
This dessert is actually a lot easier than it looks and requires very few ingredients. For the meringue, whip together some egg whites and then fold in the flavorings after. Depending how large you make your pavlovas (these were about 6-inches), they bake for about 50-55 minutes. Then, let them cool completely, whip up the cream, slice some strawberries and layer it up!
It's a gorgeous dessert and rather a shame to cut into but you do what you gotta do. I'd actually recommend letting it sit for a few hours before diving into it. The flavors will meld better that way. But either way, it's not as heavy as cake but just as sweet. The strawberries help to balance that out. It's pretty much the perfect birthday "cake" for this informal occasion.
And because I figured I needed an updated in-action-food-related profile, here's a little behind-the-scenes action.
In other news, fresh, in-season, non-apple strawberries are back!
Chocolate Pavlova with Fresh Strawberries
Yields: 6-inch, 3 layer pavlova
3 egg whites, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1½ tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
1 oz chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 punnet fresh strawberries to garnish
Preheat oven to 300ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and trace three 6-inch circles, spaced about an inch apart. Flip over the parchment paper so the lined side is down and set aside.
In a mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on high until soft peaks form. Then, slowly add the granulated sugar, one tablespoon at a time until stiff, glossy peaks form. Gently fold in the sifted cocoa powder, finely chopped chocolate and balsamic vinegar until no streaks remain.
Dab a bit of the meringue on the bottom of the four corners of the parchment paper to hold it down. Evenly distribute the rest of the meringue in the three circles, smoothing the sides and the top.
Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the meringue looks crisp and dry on top but with a little bit of give on the bottom.
Remove the parchment paper with the meringues to a cooling rack. Let cool completely.
In the meantime, make the whipped cream. Whip the cream until soft peaks form and then gradually add in the granulated sugar and vanilla extract.
When ready to assemble, alternate with layers of meringue, whipped cream and strawberries. Dust with cocoa powder if desired. Enjoy immediately or let sit in the fridge for up to three hours for the flavors to meld. Leftovers keep in the fridge for up to one day but the pavlova will have softened by then.