The weekend just ended with a slow roasted lamb shoulder that my friend Nicc nurtured all the way to amazing for 5 hours in the oven. Alongside a taster of Renaissance chocolate stout and two (two!) loads of washing, it's been a perfect Sunday night and a great end to the weekend.
I spent the weekend in Picton with a mix of new friends, and despite the slightly terrifying earthquake, and the slightly stomach-upsetting ferry ride, it was a very relaxing trip away. We ate a delicious brunch on the deck in the sun before the lovely Anna declared that lunch-pudding was totally appropriate, and that it was time for chocolate pavlova, a la Nigella Lawson. Lunch-pudding is ideal for the impending summer socialising, and this one is a treat.
A couple of us had to nap after the midday overindulgence. But that's what summer, and holidays, and weekends away and nearly-christmas is all about, right? YES.
(Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova, made here with strawberries, acquired from Nigella's website. She said it serves 8-10, and 7 of us comfortably polished this entire thing off after lunch. Mmmmm. )
For the chocolate meringue base:
6 egg whites
300g caster sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sieved
1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
50g dark chocolate, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar, and the chopped chocolate.
Gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.
Pile up onto the baking tray/paper in a fat circle approximately 23cm in diameter, smoothing the sides and the top.
Turn oven down to 150°C and put in your pav. Cook for about one to one and a quarter hours.
Nigella says: "when it's ready it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but when you prod the centre you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the chocolate meringue disc cool completely."
Invert on to a big, flat-bottomed plate and whip cream, and spread on top. Anna garnished hers with sliced strawberries and grated chocolate and my oh my it was delicious. A simple, impressive and seasonal dessert. Especially if it follows immediately after brunch. And especially if it's followed by swings, swims, sun and lots of laughter over some of the best couple-get-together stories I've heard in a while, amongst other things. 'Tis the season!