Sometimes in life you are absolutely, categorically allowed to make things easy for yourself.
I am a cook. A great cook. I love to try out new things, think up new recipes and watch others enjoy the food I’ve made… almost as much as I love just eating it myself! But whilst I can and do make a lot of things from scratch, it doesn’t mean I’m not open to the odd helping hand. In fact, I really dislike it when people get uppity over any use of a pre-made product. Get real!
It’s refreshing when the likes of Jamie Oliver can admit that sometimes shop-bought is absolutely fine; and Jamie is often seen tearing into a pack of pre-made puff pastry on screen. Yes, whilst I can and do make a lot of things from scratch, puff pastry is probably one that I can’t and won’t.
As a late twenty-something dinner parties have become a thing among friends and I recently hosted a group of six for a Summer feast. Catering for four people? No problem. But throw in a couple more and somehow it becomes this whole new logistical challenge, with all utensils vanishing from your drawer, your dishwasher piling up with every item in your kitchen and of course realising you haven’t actually got six of those ‘nice’ plates to set the table with.
At this point I am ready to welcome some assistance. An easy, crowd pleasing dessert with a bit of a twist, which is where my super delicious recipe for pear, ginger and dark chocolate pavlova comes in! And the base of said dessert? That’s where the assistance lies. I was recently sent a whole selection of Walkers Shortbread meringues, one of which was a large pavlova base – perfect for a party! All I had to do was top it with beautiful things.
Pear, Ginger & Dark Chocolate Pavlova
- Serves 6
- 1 Walkers Pavlova base
- 500ml double cream
- 4 tbs dark rum
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 100g 70% dark chocolate
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tin of pears, quartered.
- 6 brandy snaps
- 1 tsp ginger
On a medium heat, melt 1tbsp of butter in a pan and add the ginger and drained pears. Cook until the pears are warmed through and coated in the butter and spices. For sweetness you can add a sprinkle of sugar if your pears were not canned in syrup. Take off the heat and leave to cool. Melt your dark chocolate in the microwave with the remaining 1 tbsp of butter and stir together. Add to a piping bag with a thin nozzle, or if you don’t have this a freezer bag with the corner cut off will work just fine. In a large bowl, whip your cream with the rum and vanilla until a soft whip. Be careful not to overdo it and make the cream really stiff! We want lovely, pillowy rum cream.
Slather your cream on top of the meringue base in generous peaks. As well as lovely, spicy flavours this dessert has real wow factor in the presentation with lots of height! Begin by placing the pear quarters around the cream so that they sit upright. You’re aiming for a flower pattern. Once complete, shatter your brandy snaps and place shards in between the pears, with the curved edge facing outwards. Finally, take your piping bag and pipe dark chocolate into the nooks and crannies in even spacing. Finish with a dusting of ginger.
I mean when you plonk this onto the table, no one is going to start critiquing whether you slaved away on the meringue as well as the other two course you’ve served, and you will have saved yourself some serious time and oven space. In my opinion that’s worth the £3.60 RRP.
I have to say the base was ideal for pavlova; it’s a very light meringue which holds it’s structure lends itself well to being cut into slices… something which can be very tricky with a pavlova! It’s nice to offer something different to the usual berry routine too. No no: this one is boozy with lots of texture and spice.
And oh yes, we absolutely did eat the entire thing.