Cocoa Swirl Pavlova (from my YouTube channel)

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Video recipe for this beauty is HERE

Pavlova is a much loved dessert from downunder. Some argue it originated in Australia, others will say it is an invention from New Zealand. It doesn’t change the simple fact that this culinary marvel is the easiest showstopper you could possibly present your guests with! The mounds of whipped meringue, both gooey and crunchy is enough to send my head spinning, and when paired with cream and cherries, well, that is just heavenly! Did I mention it is also gluten free?…

Please visit my YouTube Channel to watch me make it and find out more about how to whip egg whites properly, and don’t forget to subscribe, so you can get all my new video recipes!

xxx

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4-6

4 large egg whites at room temperature

1 small pinch of salt

t 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1-1/4 cup of caster sugar

1 tablespoon of vinegar

1 table spoon of corn starch

2 tablespoons of Dutch cocoa powder

200 ml of whipped cream

cherries to top

METHOD

1. Preheat your oven to 120 C (250 F), conventional. Line a rectangular oven dish with baking paper.

2. Whisk the egg whites with salt and cream of tartar in a clean, dry bowl until frothy. Start adding the sugar, whisking continuously, until a glossy and slightly stiff meringue forms. Add vinegar and corn start and fold in with a spoon. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cocoa on top and ripple, without mixing through.

3. Gently dollop the meringue in the tray, creating a slightly higher rim around the edges.

4. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the heat down to 100 C (210 F) and bake for a further 30-40 minutes, or until dry. Leave to cool in the oven, with the door left ajar. When ready to assemble, whip the cream to soft peaks, dollop on top of the meringue base. Top off with the cream and crown with cherries.

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Vegan Banana, Coconut and Raspberry Bread (ok, cake!!)

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Yes, let’s be honest here. When I say “bread”, I mean cake. I am not quite sure how this kind of preparation got its deceiving name from, but the fact of the matter is, it’s got sugar, therefor it must be cake! This particular loaf happens to be vegan. I would like to say it is because I have resolved to be ethical and just this year, but really, it has to do with the lack of eggs and dairy in my fridge when the craving for baking hit me the other day. However vegan this cake may be, I dare you all to try it, vegan or not, and tell me the difference! Did I mention it’s a one-bowl/no fancy equipment wonder and the batter comes together in a matter of minutes? You are welcome. xxx

INGREDIENTS, serve 8-10

2 soft bananas, peeled and mashed with a fork

1 cup of shredded coconut

1-1/2 cup of self-raising flour (you can also use Gluten free self raising flour)

3/4 cup caster sugar (super fine sugar)

1 cup almond milk

zest and juice of 1 lime

1 cup of raspberries

METHOD

  1. Preheat your oven to 170 C, 340 F
  2. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.
  3. Mix mashed bananas, milk, flour, sugar and shredded coconut together until a batter forms. Add lime zest and juice and mix though. Add 3/4 cup of raspberries in the mix and stir gently. Pour the batter into the tin.
  4. Dot the top with the remaining berries.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden and cooked though. Cool on a rack before slicing

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SILVIA’S CUCINA is available in stores and online!

MADE IN ITALY is available herehere   and here

LA DOLCE VITA is available online  on Amazon  and here

9781921384417.jpg

Silvia’s Cucina is on Facebook Twitter and Instagram

 

 

Apple, Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and Ricotta Muffins

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We Italians are very opinionated, bordering on fastidious, when it comes to cakes and all things sweet. We proudly cook family recipes that have been passed on for generations without so much of a written note and each family strongly believes to be the sole keeper of a perfectly moist cake recipe. And then, one day, only a few decades ago, we heard about this miracle cake batter, an Anglo-Saxon recipe sure to produce the lightest, fluffiest afternoon tea treat: the muffin recipe! It was love at first bite. We all make muffins now, just as proudly as we whip amaretti cookie dough. We may have swapped the melted butter for extra-virgin olive oil and, in this case, added a few tablespoons of ricotta, but the miraculous principle has remained the same: lumpy batter=moist cake.

That’s Amore!

INGREDIENTS, makes 12

2 1/4 cups of self-raising flour, sifted

1 teaspoon  ground cinnamon, plus extra for dusting on top

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

2 eggs

2/3 cup caster sugar

70 ml Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

4 tablespoons of full cream ricotta

2/3 cup of milk

2 handfuls of semi-dried apples, chopped up (or 2 fresh apples, chopped up)

Demerara sugar and almond flakes for sprinkling

HOW TO

  1. Preheat  your oven to 170°C (390 F)
  2. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with 12 muffin cases or baking paper.
  3. Put flour, lemon zest and cinnamon into a large bowl. In separate bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until apple and creamy. Add the ricotta, oil and the milk, mix well, then pour the liquids into the flour, lemon zest and cinnamon mix. Stir until just combined. The batter should be a little lumpy and slightly sticky and thick. Add a n extra splash of milk if too thick or another 1-2 tablespoons of flour if too runny. All flours then to vary, according to how they are milled and to how they react to humidity, so feel free to adjust quantities to suit your needs. I always do it.
  4. Add the chopped apples and spoon the batter into the muffin tin. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and almond flakes * and bake for 2-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool at room temperature, dust with cinnamon and consume with unrepentant pleasure!

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* If you’d like to top the muffins with a piece of semidried apple, like in the pictures, make sure to cover the muffins tray with oven paper for the first 15 minutes, otherwise the apples may color too much. Remove the paper after 15 minute to allow the top of the muffins to rise evenly and develop a healthy sun-kissed look.

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Christmas Meringue Nests and Wreaths (mini X’mas Pavlovas, anyone?)

You know Christmas is in the air when you rummage the cupboard for ground cloves to be used in conjunction with brown sugar. Those two best friends create that unique scent that bring the frivolities of the holiday season ever so close. Think Christmas fruit cakes, mulled wine and puddings all sorts. Or, in this case, little festive meringues. Then, why not turning them into one of Australia’s most loved Christmas dessert, Pavlova? Topped with generous dollops of sweetened cream and scarlet berries, you have secured yourself a mono-portion of jolly Christmas spirit!

Ingredients

6 egg whites

pinch of salt

2 cups of brown sugar (can use white sugar for a snow-white meringue)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or paste

1 tablespoon of ground clove plus some for dusting

1-1/2 teaspoon of corn flour

1/2 tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar, or regular white wine vinegar

How to

Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until slightly frothy. Add the sugar, a little at a time and keep whisking until soft peaks form and the meringue is shiny and elastic. This will take about 3-4 using electric beaters…a lot more , and a sore arm, if doing by hand!

Add vanilla, cloves, corn flour and vinegar and mix gently to incorporate them into the meringue.

To make the nests, spoon 1 tablespoon of meringue mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, create a rim so that the centre can accommodate berries and cream after baking. Allow room for rising in the oven.

To make the wreaths, dollop teaspoons of mixture to create a disk that is hollow in the middle. Again, create a dent in the middle to accommodate the topping you prefer or keep smooth if no topping is required.

Bake in a low oven (150 C, 300 F) for 35-40 minutes or until the base is set, the top is lightly cracked and bronzed  but the middle is still soft.

Allow to cool at room temperature.

Top with whipped cream or mascarpone, berries, ruby red cherries or whatever your imagination suggests.

The cooked meringues will keep well if stored in an air-tight container lined with baking paper, at room temperature for 1-2 days in hot climate and up to three days in colder temperatures.

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Ciambellone della Nonna (Nonna’s Marble cake with Oil and Yogurt)

Those of you who have travelled to Italy know how much we favour a sweet breakfast. Cafes are crowded with Italians standing by the counter dipping a pastry into their morning coffee before they set off to work. Admittedly, this is not the healthiest way to start the day and it it possibly one of very few things Italian get wrong about food. These days I have become an advocate of oatmeal  and home-made muesli, however I do like to indulge on weekends and allow myself and my family the undeniable pleasures of white starch and refined sugar! There is hardly anything I crave more on a Saturday morning than diving a freshly baked, large slice of Ciambellone into a coffee artfully prepared by Richard. I feel no guilt, it is part of my DNA, it is my legacy. I have to oblige, at least one a week. So I say, if you  truly want to be Italian, get yourself a cake and practise an infallible dunking motion.
Any tea-cake or cookie will do, but my loyalty lies with this very cake my Mamma used to make for us on Sundays.

INGREDIENTS:

3 eggs

200 gr (1 cup) of caster sugar

250 gr (2 and 1/3 cups) of self-raising flour

2 tablespoons of corn starch

60 ml (1/4 cup) of grape seed oil (or lightly scented olive oil)

125 gr (1/2 cup) of Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

How To

1. Whisk eggs and sugar until pale and creamy.

2. Add the oil , Greek youghurt and the vanilla

3. Gently fold in the flour and the corn starch, well sifted. Mix until the batter is combined.

4. Pour 2/3 of the mix into a ring-cake tin (I used a silicon one so I didn’t have to grease it.).

5. Add 3 tablespoons of bitter cocoa and a good splash of Galliano* to the remaining cake batter and mix until smooth.

6. Dollop the cocoa mix on top of the vanilla mix and , using a fork or a chopstick, swirl the two batters together.

7. Bake in a preheated 170 C (340 F) oven for about 35/45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Let the cake cool in its tin for about one hour before serving.

Make yourself a good coffee, and get stuck in….

* Galliano is an Italian vanilla-scented liquor. You can omit or substitute with rum.

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