Berry Nice

With the holiday weekend coming up, there is a likelihood that you are attending a barbecue where you are being asked to bring something.  Well, your search ends here.  I have a dessert that will knock their socks off. 

If they are wearing socks, that is.

This recipe is not the healthiest of ones as it does contain a lot of sugar and heavy cream.  However, it is made with egg whites and loads of berries, so I wouldn’t put it on the lowest tier of nutritionally deficient foods just yet. 

The berries in this are packed with nutrients. The raspberries, specifically, contain a good amount of fiber, a high amount of Vitamin C (almost as much in 1 cup as there is in orange juice!), and are a good source of Vitamin K and Magnesium.  And there is a lot of them in this recipe, between the sauce and the topping. 

One thing with washing and storing raspberries – they are very water absorbent.  Do not wash them unless you are ready to eat or cook them.  In fact, I have even read that raspberries should not be put under water, but if you are concerned about the bacteria/pesticides, lightly pat them with a damp cloth, like mushrooms. 

With whipping the eggs and cream – you want stiff peaks, like the picture on the right.  The picture on the left shows that it still is not stiff enough. It should not move when you hit the side of the beater with your hand.

Make sure you get yourself a piece before serving as this will go fast!!  If you have any leftover raspberry sauce, it goes great over vanilla ice cream. 

 

Mixed Berry Pavlova

(Source: Ina Garten from Barefoot Contessa)

Warning: I do not know the nutrition facts for this recipe.  I think it’s safe to say enjoy in moderation! 🙂

Ingredients:

  •  4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature (note: this is very important for the eggs to whip to the right consistency)
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Sweetened Whipped Cream, recipe follows
  • 1/2 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1/2 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 pint fresh raspberries
  • Triple Raspberry Sauce, recipe follows

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees F.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw a 9-inch circle on the paper, using a 9-inch plate as a guide, then turn the paper over so the circle is on the reverse side. (This way you won’t get a pencil mark on the meringue.)

Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 1 minute. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 2 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula. Pile the meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it within the circle, making a rough disk. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.

Invert the meringue disk onto a plate and spread the top completely with sweetened whipped cream. Combine the strawberries, blueberries and raspberries in a bowl and toss with about 1/2 cup of raspberry sauce, or enough to coat the berries lightly. Spoon the berries carefully into the middle of the Pavlova, leaving a border of cream and meringue. Serve immediately in large scoops with extra raspberry sauce.

Sweetened Whipped Cream:
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until firm. Don’t overbeat!

Triple Raspberry Sauce:
  •  1 half-pint fresh rasperries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup seedless raspberry jam (12 oz. jar)
  • 1 tablespoon framboise (raspberry) liqueur

Place the raspberries, sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and framboise into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Chill.

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Oh Chocolate, how I love thee…

Let me count the ways.  I think you can put chocolate on or with just about anything and it would taste good.  Chocolate drizzled over strawberries?  Yes, please!  Chocolate cake? Can I have seconds? Chocolate Chip Banana Bread? drools… Chocolate and nuts? Just give me the recipe already! Chocolate and broccoli? Uh, maybe not anything.

These are by far my favorite cookie.  I just can’t get enough of them.  I mean, I love nuts as it is (the title of the blog has many meanings :)) but the combination of cocoa, chopped chocolate and nuts is simply divine!!  They are a little crunchy and a little soft, so they please everyone’s texture expectations.  Plus, we all need to please our sweet tooth every once in a while, so why not do it with something a little healthier and packed with nutrients?

Chocolate, derived from the cacao bean, is not only packed with antioxidants, but it is also filled with flavonoids, phenylethylamine, caffeine, fiber and other essential nutrients. Antioxidants reduce the risk of cancer by counteracting any free radicals in the body. Flavonoids have been shown to reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks through their anti-clotting benefits.  Phenylethylamine acts as an antidepressant and is similar to our own production of dopamine and adrenaline.  However, because of the amount of sugar and fat that is contained in chocolate, it is wise to watch your intake of this brown gold.  Dark chocolate is the better way to go, but should still be enjoyed in limited portions.

 

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Source: Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave  and FoodNetwork.com

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate (2 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped milk chocolate (2 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans, optional

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mash together the butter and sugars with a fork until well combined. Add the oil and egg and beat until creamy. Mix in the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Stir in the dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and the pecans and mix well. Using a tablespoon, scoop the batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.