Posts Tagged ‘Nigella Lawson


A patriotic pavlova by way of my girl crush, Nigella Lawson

Not sure why, but I’ve been making pavlovas for the July 4th holiday for the past few years, which isn’t exactly the most American of desserts. Pavlova (a New Zealand concoction  named for a Russian dancer) is a huge meringue base or nest topped with whipped cream and fruit. Tart fruits like berries works best, since the meringue is so sugary.

Make the meringue right and you’ll get a crispy exterior with  a gooey interior. The key is the cooling process. Make sure to cool it in the oven to get the right texture. This one has cocoa and chocolate bits in the meringue, which add a level of melty goodness to the center (or as Nigella calls it, “squidginess”).

Here's what it looked like before it went into the oven.

Seriously, don’t be afraid to try this one. The hardest part of the recipe is separating the eggs. I love that Nigella’s version doesn’t even require obscure ingredients like cream-of-tartar (it uses vinegar instead). Just another reason why it’s so easy to crush on her!

Haters might say, isn’t this basically just sugar, cream, and fruit? Sure, but with the contrast between the crispy outer/oozy inner of the meringue, it takes those basic ingredients to a whole new level.

Voila! A dessert that's easier than it looks.

Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s chocolate raspberry pavlova:

For the Meringue Base:

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 2 cups superfine sugar (I recommend 1.5 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar (I used balsamic)
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the Toppings:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • A couple cups of berries, mangoes, passionfruit, or any other tart fruit
  • 1 to 2 ounces dark chocolate (optional)


Prepare the pan: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Draw a 9-inch-diameter circle on the paper with a pencil, tracing a round cake tin that size. Flip the paper over so your meringue doesn’t touch the pencil marks – you’ll still be able to see the circle.

Make the meringue: Beat the egg whites with a mixer until peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and glossy.

Add the chocolate: Sprinkle the cocoa, vinegar and then the chopped chocolate over the egg whites. Gently fold everything with a rubber spatula until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.

Shape the meringue: Secure the parchment to the baking sheet with a dab of meringue under each corner. Mound the meringue onto the parchment within the circle, smoothing the sides and the top with a spatula.

Bake the meringue: Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees F and cook for one to one and a quarter hours. When it’s ready, it should look crisp and dry on top, but when you prod the center you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers. It’ll probably be cracked in a few places, which is perfectly fine.

Let it cool: Turn off the oven and open the door slightly; let the chocolate meringue disk cool completely in the oven. When you’reready to serve, invert onto a big flatbottomed plate and peel off the parchment.

Decorate the pavlova: Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter the raspberries on top. Coarsely grate the chocolate haphazardly over the top so that you get curls of chocolate rather than rubble, as you don’t want the raspberries’ luscious color and form to be obscured.


food network’s “the best thing i ever ate”: totally fried episode

loladonutsHere are the donuts highly recommended by Giada “Bobblehead” De Laurentiis from this episode. I don’t have issues with people sensualizing food, but Giada comes off as over-the-top to me. Nigella does it so much more naturally. Speaking of Nigella, why are all her shows airing only at 7:30 AM lately? Did she piss off someone at Food Network?

Watch the Giada clip here and silently judge:

Back to the donuts–they come with two dipping sauces. I believe one is a mascarpone-based sauce and the other is cranberry.

Made To Order Doughnuts-Lola

2000 4th Avenue

Seattle, WA 98121



Another reason I heart Nigella: Chocohotopots

I don’t know why I haven’t seen Nigella Lawson on Food Network lately. Rumor has it that she gained so much weight, the production folks were ordered to only shoot her from the waist up. But really, who trusts a skinny cook? I mean, the recipes I’ve road-tested from Giada’s show have all come out sorta bland, if that tells you anything.

Nigella’s recipe for chocohotopots is ridiculously easy, has 5 basic ingredients (butter, sugar, chocolate, flour, eggs) and is a crowd-pleaser. You don’t even need a hand mixer. A whisk will do. Note: I find that the mini semisweet chocolate chips are easier to melt, which you can do in a glass bowl in the microwave. Just do it incrementally (about 15-20 seconds at a time? It really depends on your microwave), stirring a lot in between. Don’t overnuke it, or you’ll be crying into your chocolate-butter mixture.

These are basically lava cakes (molten middle). You can bake them a bit longer than her recipe says if you want the middle a bit more solid. The tops come out crispy, a nice contrast to the gooeyness that lies beneath. I like them topped with fresh whipped cream and a side of food coma.

Get the recipe here:


A (really long) word on British desserts


OK, so British food gets a bad rap. British desserts, on the other hand–well, I challenge you to leave empty-handed from the dessert case at Sainsbury’s, Tesco or Marks & Spencer. There are simply too many temptations for dessert-lovers like us.

The array of individually-sized UK goodies like trifles, puddings, fools, etc. will make your head spin. Then there’s the French influence: floating islands (merengue floating in a “sea” of vanilla custard), mousses, creme brulees, pot de cremes, etc.

What I particularly like about desserts you find in the UK are:

(1) the names. Believe it or not, there’s a dessert called spotted dick (a delicious suet-based concoction with currants, not an STD. It’s usually served with hot custard)

(2) the use of real whipped cream, butter, custard and anything that will clot your veins/make me reach for my bottle of lactase. I mean, they actually sell a product called “clotted cream” (you can also find it here at Dean & Deluca) that’s a super heavy cream for spreading on scones and such.

Around the holidays, there’s an entirely new crop of desserts you can only get for a limited time. Like Christmas puddings, which are liquor-infused, heavy fruitcakes (not those bricks like the ones from Safeway) usually eaten with melted brandy butter or custard. Or flute-shaped butter cookies called brandy snaps that are meant to be filled with whipped cream. British cannolis, anyone? BTW just to clarify, what we call dessert the British call “pudding.” But they also refer to specific desserts as puddings: toffee puddings, Christmas pudding, etc.–spongy, heavy cake-like confections. So yeah, it gets confusing.

Here are a few of my personal attempts at making British desserts. The bottom photo is a pseudo-trifle I made for July 4th last year. Making an American flag out of fruit was out of the question, so it got the French flag treatment (sorry, America). It was layers of custard, sponge cake, fruit and whipped cream. You’re supposed to put it in a glass bowl to show off the layers, but I didn’t have one handy. Also, I opted not to include liquor or jello in it.

The thing in the wine glass is something I learned from Nigella Lawson’s Food Network show: Amaretto Syllabub. It’s easy–you just whip together Amaretto liquor, whipped cream, sugar & lemon juice. Then layer it in a glass with shaved chocolate flakes and crumbled cookies. Recipe here:,,FOOD_9936_77083,00.html. Nigella, my taste buds thank you but my cholesterol doesn’t.

Anyway, the next time you decide to rag on the British culinary tradition, just think of all the spotted dick we’d be missing out on.