Mini Pavlovas with Blackberry Sauce

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“Too much of a good thing is wonderful” …. hmmm… like dessert!

Yay for easy summer desserts! And these are naturally gluten free! These desserts are great because you can make most of it a day ahead – so they are perfect for your summer soirées – when you have too much to prepare and not enough time.

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Mini Pavlovas

4 egg whites

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp vanilla extract

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Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 225F.

For the next part you can use a double boiler or a large metal bowl over a saucepan of just boiling water. In the bowl, add the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar and whisk until the sugar dissolves.

Next transfer this to your stand mixer and beat with whisk attachment until frothy. Add vanilla. Beat to stiff peaks. Use a large round tip to pipe out a tiny bit of the meringue under each corner of the parchment paper to keep it form moving while you pipe the pavlovas. Pipe out the meringue in 6 circles on each baking sheet, leaving space in between them. It’s ok if your circles aren’t perfectly neat. Alternatively, if you like the more rustic look (as I did in this case), use large spoons to dollop out semi-round pavlovas. Use the back of one spoon to create a nest at the top of each pavlova – where you will place your filling.

Bake for about 1 hour – or until pavlovas are dry to your touch. (Do not open the oven until the hour is up).Once they are done, turn off the oven and leave the oven door slightly open for at least 2 hours, up to overnight.

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Whipped cream topping

 1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tbsp. sugar (optional)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat heavy cream in your stand mixer with whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add vanilla. You can also add sugar if you prefer a sweeter cream. Beat until stiff peaks form.

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Blackberry sauce

2 boxes of fresh blackberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/8 cup water

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Lower to simmer and allow to cook for another 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain the sauce. Let cool. Save some of the whole cooked blackberries to add to your pavlovas as well.

Assembly

Pavlovas

whipped cream

blackberry sauce

fresh berries

mint leaves (optional)

Chopped pistachios (optional)

Lemon zest (optional)

Remove Pavlovas from parchment paper and place on plates you would like to serve them on. Fill nests with dollops of the whipped cream. Add some of the cooked blackberries and fresh berries on top of the cream, as well as pistachios. Pour on the blackberry sauce. Top with mint leaves and lemon zest. Ready to serve!

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Mini Lemon Cupcakes with a toasted Marshmallow Frosting (gluten free)

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“When life gives you lemons…bake cupcakes”.

Actually, that’s not really a quote. You should just always bake cupcakes…because…cupcakes! I don’t have as much experience with gluten free, so I was afraid these would taste different than my normal cupcakes – but, everyone loved them! They are soft, and quite lemon-y, but also sweet. The lemons were picked fresh and smell divine as you work with them in your kitchen!

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Gluten Free Lemon Cupcakes

1 cup gluten free flour or ¾ cup coconut flour

1 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

½ cup butter

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

½ cup milk

4 tbsp fresh lemon juice (approx 1.5 lemons)

Zest of 1.5 -2 lemons

½ tsp vanilla

Zest lemons in one bowl, and then juice them in another bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine flour with baking powder and salt until mixed well. Preheat oven to 350F and set out 48 cupcake liners in cupcake tins and set aside. Meanwhile, cream butter and sugar together in stand mixer with paddle attachment. Once smooth, mix in eggs, milk, lemon juice, zest, and vanilla. In three parts, mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Fill liners a bit more than ¾ full. Bake for 13-14 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from the middle of cupcakes. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.

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Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

4 egg whites

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ tsp cream of tartar or ¼ tsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp lemon juice for flavor

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Place a large metal bowl over a saucepan of just boiling water. In the bowl, add the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Transfer this to your stand mixer and beat with whisk attachment to firm peaks. Add vanilla and lemon juice and beat to stiff peaks. Pipe onto room temperature cupcakes. For the toasting, you can either use a hand- held kitchen torch or you can place in a 450F degree oven for 2 minutes. I actually did both. I did the oven first, which gave the cupcakes a light brown even color. Then I used the torch to get some darker accents so it really looked toasted. (Be sure not to hold the torch too long or too close in one spot at a time, and keep it away from the liners.) Either one looks super pretty and tastes great! Bonus when you use the kitchen torch – it smells like s’mores as you work—yummy!

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Peanut Butter-Banana-Bacon Pupcakes – a Cupcake for your dog!

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“Some of our greatest treasures we place in museums. Others we take for walks.”

It’s National Puppy Day! I am a huuuuge animal person, and dogs are probably my favorite. The loyalty, kindness, companionship, and love these creatures give us is nothing short of amazing – so today, let’s hear it for the dogs. 🙂

Your little furry friend deserves a cupcake as awesome as he/she is, so without further ado, I give you the Peanut Butter Banana and bacon Pupcake!

The Cake

(makes a dozen mini pupcakes)

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 mashed, ripe banana

2 tbsp. cottage cheese

1 egg

1/2 tsp raw honey

1/4 cup brown rice flour*

1/4 tsp baking powder

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*you can also use whole wheat flour. However, some pups can have allergies to wheat so I used the brown rice flour to be safe.

Preheat oven to 350 F and line a mini cupcake pan with 12 liners

In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, banana, cottage cheese, and egg. Add the honey and continue mixing. In a separate bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour and baking soda. Then add this to the wet ingredients and mix well. Transfer to cupcake pan and bake for 10-11 minutes or until a toothpick placed into the middle of the cakes comes out dry.

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The Frosting and Bacon

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup low fat cream cheese

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 strips of bacon

Mix together the peanut butter and cream cheese, adding the oil until piping consistency. Add to piping bag with desired tip and pipe onto room temperature pupcakes.

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Turn stove onto medium heat and place bacon strips into pan. Once they start to curl, turn them over (This should just take a few minutes). You’ll want to fry them until they get a nice crispy consistency so that you can break the bacon into pieces that will stand up in the frosting.

Once bacon is done, turn off the stove and let the bacon cool to room temperature. Then break bacon into small parts and place into frosting. Next – let your pup enjoy (but remove the cupcake liner first)! One at a time, though 🙂

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Rose Swirl Meringues

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“Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you!”

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More like so are these cute little meringues! So there are 3 types of meringue – French, Swiss, and Italian. These are based on the Swiss kind, because the egg whites are heated over a double boiler. Anywho, I definitely recommend making these because they’re easy to make, Fat Free (!), can be eaten as a cookie on their own, or used to decorate cookies and cupcakes. They’re perfect for any old day, or a special day, like a bridal shower, wedding, or anything pretty!

Meringues

(makes 1 dozen 2 inch rose meringues)

2 egg whites

½ cup granulated sugar

¼  tsp cream of tartar

½ tsp vanilla extract

Pastel pink gel food coloring

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Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 175-200F.

For the next part you can use a double boiler – I don’t have one so I use a large metal bowl over a saucepan of just boiling water. In the bowl, add the two egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar until the sugar dissolves.

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Transfer this to your stand mixer and beat with whisk attachment until frothy. Add vanilla. Beat to stiff peaks. Divide meringue in two parts, and add a drop of pastel pink food coloring to half the meringue. Mix just until combined into a smooth color. Place meringue in piping bags with Wilton 2D tips and pipe swirly roses about 2 inches in width, and 1 inch apart. The meringues won’t change in size or shape so the way you pipe it is the way you get it!

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Bake for 1.5 hours – do not open the oven door! After this time, turn off the oven and prop open the oven door. Let cool for about 2 hours, up to overnight.

Meringues can be stored in an airtight container if you don’t finish them right away!

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Flourless Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Mousse Dome Cakes

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“A balanced life is chocolate in both hands.”

This is why I made brownies and chocolate cakes for breakfast. Sounds about right.

But really though – I recently learned to make mousse and it is amaaazing. Mousse is so light and fluffy and it almost makes you feel like you didn’t just eat a whole cake. For the record – these are mini dome cakes, so it’s all good!

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Flourless Chocolate Brownies

(This makes the base of the cakes and the extras make for ooey gooey brownie goodness just on their own)

4 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar (separated into two halves)

1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup butter

1/3 cup cornstarch

Melt chocolate in microwave safe bowl in 15 second increments, mixing in between until melted. Melt butter in microwave in separate bowl in 20 second intervals. (Butter will melt quickly!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk egg whites in stand mixer with 1/2 cup sugar until soft peaks form. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk yolks with 1/2 cup sugar.

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Mix together chocolate, butter, and cornstarch in a bowl, and then mix in the egg yolk/sugar. Fold in the egg white/sugar into this mixture. Pour into baking pan prepared with non stick spray or parchment paper.

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Bake for 15-18 minutes. It’s ok if the brownie is cracked when you take it out – it will be very soft because there is no flour. Let it cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Remove from refrigerator and cut out rounds to match the size of your dome bases. (I used something like this mold for the cakes).

The leftover brownies can be cut into squares and refrigerated for eating later 🙂

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Strawberry Mousse

1 box of fresh strawberries ( to make about a cup of strawberry puree)

2 tbsp. cold water

2 tbsp. unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup heavy cream

Blend strawberries into puree in food processor. Boil with sugar in saucepan on medium heat while stirring. Remove strawberries and allow to cool completely. Place gelatin into water in small bowl and allow to bloom about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile whisk heavy cream in stand mixer to soft peaks.

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Strain strawberry juice from puree into large bowl. Place gelatin mixture into strawberry juice and stir until thickens. Next fold cream into strawberry gelatin until well combined.

Spoon the mousse into the domes and cover with brownie bases. Place into freezer and freeze well!

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Remove cakes from molds and prepare chocolate. Normally you might pour a chocolate ganache over the cakes, but I wanted some crunch to complement the softness of the mousse; so I used dark chocolate candy melts. Melt those in the microwave – allow the chocolate to cool just a bit, then spoon over cakes. I placed a strawberry on top, and then refrigerated overnight.

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 These seriously taste so light and flavorful – I hope you enjoy them!

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