Australia Day ~ Mini Pavlovas with Lime Curd and Finger Limes

Mini Pavlovas with Lime Curd and Finger LimesEvery January, the good people Down Under celebrate Australia Day! It is summertime in the Southern Hemisphere, so much like we celebrate the Fourth of July, Australians enjoy barbeques, concerts, and fireworks on this summery holiday.

Those of us in the middle of winter in the Northern Hemisphere could use a little summer right about now! 😉 It is quite chilly, dark, and wet in Seattle. These little Pavlovas with lime curd and finger limes were just the things to brighten up a winter day. Pavlovas are a quintessential dessert of Australia, where finger limes are also native. I couldn’t think of anything more perfect to celebrate this special day.

Mini Pavlovas with Lime Curd and Finger Limes

For the curd:

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 eggs or 3 egg yolks

1/4 cup lime juice (juice from approximately 2 limes)

3 teaspoons lime zest, divided (zest from approximately 3 limes)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the meringue:

4 egg whites, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the finishing touches:

Approximately 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Approximately 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 large finger lime

For the curd:

In a medium saucepan, add the sugar, eggs, juice, and 2 teaspoons of zest. Heat over medium high heat. Whisk steadily until the mixture begins to bubble gently and thicken. Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the butter. Strain the mixture. Then add the remaining zest, and stir well. Chill the curd.

For the meringue:

Preheat oven to 225 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Wipe the bowl and whisk attachment of a stand mixer with vinegar to ensure it is free of any oil.

Add the egg whites and cream of tartar to the bowl of the stand mixer, and whisk until they begin to look frothy. Very slowly sprinkle in the sugar while continuing to whisk. The mixture will become thick and glossy with stiff peaks. Rub a small amount of the mixture between your fingers, and if it is smooth with no sugar granules remaining, you are there. At this point, add the salt, cornstarch, and vanilla, and whisk until just combined.

Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.

On the prepared baking sheets, pipe the mixture into small rounds, leaving a small indentation in the middle of each meringue.

Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Then turn off the oven, but leave the meringues in the oven for another 30 minutes. Let cool completely.

For the finishing touches:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and sugar until soft peaks form. (You want to whip it slightly less than you would like your finished product to be, since piping the cream will continue to stiffen it.) Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with the same star tip used for the meringues.

Dollop a little lime curd in the middle of each meringue. Pipe a little whipped cream over the top. Finish with a few pieces of finger lime on top of each Pavlova.Mini Pavlovas with Lime Curd and Finger Limes

Happy Australia Day! ~ Cheddar and Chive Dampers

Cheddar and Chive DampersHappy Australia Day! Every January 26th, Australia celebrates this national holiday. It falls in the middle of summer in the southern hemisphere, so much like the way we celebrate the Fourth of July, they celebrate with barbeques, fireworks and outdoor concerts.

Twenty years ago this month, I had the good fortune to travel to Australia through my university. (How did twenty years go by already? Wow!) It was an extraordinary experience I will never forget.

Cheddar and Chive DampersTo celebrate the holiday and the good times I had in Australia, I decided to make a special Australian dinner. We had split pea and ham soup with Cheddar and chive dampers. I chose the menu based on an article from CNN Travel about forty dishes Australians call their own. It is a fun article filled with many foods I have never tried before. There is much more to explore!

For the dampers, I was inspired by an Australian recipe website called Taste, but I ended up changing the recipe to a large extent for my own version. Mainly, I used 100% whole-wheat pastry flour combined with baking powder rather than self-rising flour, and I made individual dampers rather than one large one. I also made only half of the recipe, and reduced the portion size. They were the perfect accompaniment to the split pea and ham soup!

The cute little flags were printed from Jellyfish Prints. I couldn’t resist adding them for a festive touch. 🙂 They are completely adorable, and also free!

Cheddar and Chive DampersCheddar and Chive Dampers

1 ¼ cups whole-wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup Cheddar, coarsely grated

½ bunch chives, finely chopped

½ cup buttermilk

1 egg, scrambled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cheese and chives in a large bowl, whisking to combine. Add the buttermilk and egg, and stir until well combined. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until it comes together. Divide into 4 equal pieces, and shape each piece into a ball. Place each ball onto a parchment lined baking sheet, flattening the top slightly. Bake about 15 minutes, or until the underside of each damper sounds hollow when tapped.

Cool for 5 or 10 minutes, and serve warm.

Cheddar and Chive Dampers