Valentine’s Day sweet treats

With Valentine’s Day on February 14th approaching fast, here are a couple of ideas to treat that special person in your life with a sweet tooth. (with thanks to http://www.berryworld.com).

Strawberry rose petal and pistachio pavlova

This is a slight Middle Eastern take on  Lashings of sweetened cream flavoured with a dash of rose water, loaded onto a huge sticky meringue round, filled with fresh halved strawberries, topped with crushed pistachios and fragrant rose petals – it’s like summer on a plate!

Serves: 8

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour, plus cooling

 

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp rose water extract
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp corn flour
  • 100g crushed pistachios
  • 475ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 450g strawberries cut in half (keep 3-4 whole strawberries aside to garnish)
  • handful of pale pink rose petals (can buy dried petals from specialist food shops including Waitrose).

Line a baking sheet and pre heat the oven to 180c.

  1. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form, then slowly add the sugar, rose water, vinegar, corn flour and whisk again until the mix becomes very thick and shiny.
  2. Gently fold in half of the pistachios then carefully spoon the mixture onto the lined baking sheet, forming a circle and working the mixture outwards to form an edge and leaving a slight dip in the centre.
  3. Drop the oven temperature to 150c and bake for 1 hour, then turn off the oven, leaving the meringue in there to cool. If you have time, make the meringue the night before, and leave it in the cooling oven overnight. The parchment should pull away easily now and you can place the meringue on a plate.
  4. Whip the cream adding in the icing sugar and spread generously over the cooled meringue. Scatter the strawberries over the top, arrange the whole strawberries in the centre, sprinkle with the rest of the pistachios and finally scatter with the rose petals and serve.

Raspberry and white chocolate tart

image008If you are short on time, use ready-made shortcrust pastry, or even a ready-to-eat pastry case.

Serves: 6-8
Prep time: 20 minutes (plus 30 minutes resting time for the pastry and 1 hour for dessert to set in the fridge)
Cooking time: 20 minutes

You’ll need:

For the pastry:

  • 110g plain flour
  • 55g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes

For the filling:

  • 400g white chocolate
  • 200ml double cream
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 400g raspberries

What to do:

  1. Make the pastry by whizzing the flour and butter in a food processor to form fine crumbs. Add just enough cold water to bring it together, just two or three tablespoons should do it. Wrap in cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5.
  3. Lightly grease a 23cm tart tin and roll the pastry into a circle big enough to line it. Don’t worry if it cracks a little, just patch it up in the tin using a little water if you need to stick it together. Prick the base all over with a fork, line with baking paper and baking beans and bake blind in the oven for 20 minutes until crisp. Remove the pastry case from the oven, take out the baking beans and allow to cool completely while you make the filling.
  4. Make the filling by breaking up 350g of the white chocolate and adding to a heatproof bowl, along with the double cream, butter and vanilla. Set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and allow the chocolate and butter to melt, stirring frequently until you have a thick shiny sauce. Pour into the baked and cooled pastry case and put in the fridge to set firm, about an hour.
  5. Once set, remove from the fridge and decorate the surface of the tart with the fresh raspberries, either in a pretty pattern or randomly, as you like. Melt the remaining white chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Using a teaspoon drizzle the melted chocolate over the raspberries.

 

Bruce McMichael

I am freelance journalist and published author focusing on food and drink; business startups and enterprise; culture and travel. I have also written about the global upstream oil and gas industry, shipping and current affairs. Based in London, I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur.

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