Well, whether you celebrate today or not (I mean even when being with someone), a Sunday is always a good occasion for some desert to go along with your late-morning coffee.
I never really celebrated Valentine’s day, as in my mind it was always associated with those awkward days in elementary school, when the popular boy would bring a rose to the blond girl in class and everyone would be surrounding them, giggling (and secretly wishing they we in their place instead). Since that day, a lot has changed, many boys and girls passed from our lives, we all got in that place and many of us just decided not to have a day to celebrate it. It isn’t just the fact that it is just another commercial occasion for stuffed animals and hearts to be sold, it is also weird to have “a day” for everyone. Your day with your special person is supposed to remind you of things. And be special. So Valentine’s day is just another occasion to just eat heart shaped deserts and have great expectations. I say, let’s just stick to the desert. It will never disappoint us and it sure is sweet. Plus it has all the right ingredients for the day. Chocolate, orange, Grand Marnier and the light texture of a Pavlova base. Will you fall in love tonight? I think you will. I did.
Pavlova base ingredients:
- 75g orange-flavoured chocolate
- 4 large egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 225g icing sugar
- 1tbsp cornflour
- 1tsp white wine vinegar
- ½tsp vanilla
- 150g blackcurrant sauce (in a can)
- 3tbsp icing sugar
- 1tbsp orange-flavoured brandy liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
- 1 large orange, zested then peeled and segmented, and a little of the juice
- 300ml whipping cream
- 50g dark chocolate
- Break the orange-flavoured chocolate into a small bowl and let it melt in a pan, over shimmering water. Leave it for a while to lower its temperature as you will later pour it over the meringue. Preheat oven to 200°C.
- Place the 4 egg whites and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Use an electric mixer to whisk until you see soft peaks in your mix. You should add the sugar in small quantities until the end of the process, whisking gently after each addition and reserve 2tsp of sugar for later. Once the sugar has been added, the meringue should be very stiff. Sift the cornflour over the meringue and fold through very gently. In another bowl, mix the 2tsp of icing sugar with the vinegar and vanilla essence and then fold into the meringue until well mixed.
- Take a tablespoon of mixture at a time and place 4 piles on the tray (it makes 2 trays). Drizzle a little melted chocolate over each with a teaspoon and swirl the chocolate into the meringue to form a 9cm circle. Take another spoonful of meringue and add to the top of each circle. Drizzle over more chocolate then swirl to spread the mixture into 12cm circles, making a slight dip in the centre of each for the filling.
- Cook for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to 110°C and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the pavlovas. Place on cooling racks. When just cooled, place them on a tray in the fridge until completely cold. Peel off the paper and store in a cold place until needed.
- To make the topping, put the blackcurrant sauce in a pan with the sugar, orange liqueur, orange zest and any juice left behind from segmenting the orange.
Heat gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the cranberries just start to burst. Continue to cook until the mixture is no longer wet. When removing from the pan into a bowl, extract any excess fluid in the mixture. You want it to be as chinky as possible. Put in the fridge for up to 1 hour before using.
- To make the chocolate flakes, just take a sharp knife and slide it on the back of the chocolate, scraping off the top layer. Be careful in the process, and hold the knife carefully to protect your hands.
Whipping cream filling:
Whisk the cream until it just holds its shape but is still a little floppy. Add a teaspoon of icing sugar if you think it smells too much like milk, but not more than that, as the rest of the topping is quite sweet on its own. Pile some of the cream into the centre of each pavlova. Place the orange segments on top of the cream and arrange the cold blackcurrant-Grand Marnier topping over them. (If you want the desert to be a bit less sweet, add more orange pieces and less blackcurrant topping. Top with chocolate flakes.