Hazelnut Praline, Nutella and Salted Caramel Pavlova

Quite often I am asked to bake stuff that is gluten free. My tendency until now has been to use GF flour mixes and hope for the best. Results have been pretty mixed. Then I started thinking about meringue and how yummy it is obviously it doesn’t contain gluten.  So I decided to make a pavlova for a Thanksgiving potluck I was going to (and a cheesecake, forgot to take pictures so will blog that next time I make it) It turns out Nutella and salted caramel go really well together. I had been thinking about the combination but it was only when I doubled them up on a spoon, I realised they are REALLY GOOD. The pavolva was topped with fresh cream, Nutella sauce, salted caramel and homemade hazelnut praline crushed up and sprinkled over.

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The recipe:

For the meringue

  • 210g free-range egg whites (about 6 large eggs)
  • 420g caster sugar – I used golden for a more caramelly taste.

(weigh the egg whites and then do 60g of sugar per 30g egg white)

  1. Draw a 10 inch circle on a sheet of baking paper (to serve as a template for you meringue) and turn it over so the pencil mark is on the other side
  2. Line a roasting tray with baking paper and heat 420g caster sugar at 200C until the edges are just beginning to melt. Heating the sugar helps it to dissolve in the egg white more quickly, creating a glossy and more stable mixture. Now, turn the oven down to 110C.
  3. Add egg whites a bowl (you will find this much easier if you have a stand mixer). At first whisk slowly allowing small stabilising bubbles to form, then increase the speed until the egg whites form stiff peaks (and you could hold the bowl over your head – if it starts to go cotton wooly stop – it is becoming over whisked)
  4. Using a large spoon, add the sugar spoon by spoon while continuing to whisk. It is ready once you have a full bodied, stiff and glossy mixture (about 5 minutes). Don’t put in the melted edge clumps
  5. Spoon onto a lined baking tray making sure it is slightly higher around the edges to hold all the filling.
  6. Bake for around 3 hours at 110c. Its good to keep our meringues mallowy and soft in the middle, so take them out of the oven as soon as they lift off the baking paper with the base intact

Toppings:

  • 100g Nutella with 3 tbsp cream or milk stirred in to make a sauce
  • 1 quantity of Nigella’s salted caramel
  • 300ml of double cream whipped
  • Hazelnut Praline

For the hazelnut praline:

  • 200g white caster sugar
  • 50g toasted chopped hazelnuts
  • 2 pinches of salt
  1. Put the sugar in a smallish heavy bottomed pan and cover with 75ml water and stir gentle so the sugar is wet
  2. Heat the sugar until is is 105c – use a sugar thermometer and watch it like a hawk
  3. While the sugar is heating, line a baking tray with baking paper and put a thin layer of the hazelnuts on the tray and sprinkle salt evenly over them
  4. When the sugar is ready pour it over the hazelnuts
  5. Allow to cool and smash up two-third fairly finely and leave one-third in larger pieces to decorate.

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To assemble:

Put half the caramel and Nutella sauce in the centre, top with the cream and then drizzle the remainder of the sauces over the top using disposable piping bags if you want it to look neater, sprinkle with the crushed up and larger praline pieces

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Salted Caramel Brownies

This evening I did some advance baking for some friends’ birthdays at the weekend. I baked some lactose-free carrot cupcakes that I will ice on Saturday – I will share those next week assuming it is not a massive disaster. Also if anyone has any Vitalite butter icing tips, I would really appreciate them. I also made some gooey salted caramel brownies – not lactose free but you can easily make them gluten free by switching the flour. Mmm… Salted Caramel. These brownies are amazing, seriously. They don’t look as pretty as some of the other stuff I make but they taste so good.

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Again, these use Nigella’s salted caramel sauce recipe, which is super easy – no sugar thermometer required. Just remember to use decent salt.

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The caramel is added to my failsafe brownie recipe. I use this brownie recipe all the time and add in whatever I fancy (chopped up Bounties, finger of fudges, Dime Bars, pecans etc)

  • 185g unsalted butter
  • 200g decent chocolate (I use one bar of Green and Blacks dark and one milk)
  • 85g plain flour (regular or gluten-free Doves Farm)
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 275g golden caster sugar
  • 2 quantities of Nigella’s salted caramel (make it with slightly less cream to make sure it is thick enough) made in advance and totally cooled (although in an emergency the freezer works – don’t let it actually freeze)

Method:

  1. Cut butter into cubes and put into a pyrex type bowl with the chocolate (broken into small pieces) Melt them together by putting the bowl over a pan of simmering water but make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir occasionally until they are combined. You can also do this by shoving it in the microwave but watch it really closely because chocolate burns easily. Leave the melted mixture to cool to room temperature.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 160c. Line your tin with tin foil or baking parchment. I use a tin that is about 6 x 12 inches.
  3. Break the eggs into your bowl and add in the golden caster sugar whisk on high until light and thick and creamy – it should become pale and double in volume. It takes a while and is the most important step, this is what makes them light.
  4. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture in, then gently fold together with a spatula.Be careful not to knock the air out.
  5. Add in the sifted cocoa and flour mixture and fold in really gently until just combined. If you are making regular brownies, now would be the time to add in chopped up chocolate bars and whatever else you fancy.
  6. Pour the half the mixture into the tin and push it out into the corners making sure it is even. Then add the caramel. Try to avoid getting it too close to the edges if you can. Then add the other half of the brownie mix and smooth it over.  Pop it in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes or so. To test if it is done shake the tin a bit, it shouldn’t wobble like jelly. I find the skewer test a bit redundant for brownie making because if it comes out clean you have probably over cooked them or missed a caramel seam.
  7. Leave them until they are totally cold. In this case, I mean it, they firm up and become manageable when cold. You can always reheat them later if you like.

So there you go… Enjoy!

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