You can buy presents for your loved one based on what you think they would like or need.
But Valentine’s Day is different.
Apparently a new hoover or an ironing board just doesn’t hack it.
You need to be, well, romantic. And you can't buy romantic, you either are or you aren’t.
And, although I like to think otherwise, I reckon I fall into the latter category.
But my saving grace is that I’m a decent cook, and when my wife wants romance and passion, I head straight for the passion fruit and make her something special.
What more could a woman want.
I discovered this recipe in a cookbook from the Bourke Street Bakery I got recently, and thought it would be ideal to get me Valentine’s Day romantic brownie points without having to make brownies - again!
It looks great on the plate, all mallowy inside and crisp outside, bound together with a thick custard (pastry cream) and the sweet tartnesss of passionfruit and strawberries.
This is a dessert that is all romantic and lovey-dovey, and if that means I don’t need to be, then this is the one for me come Feb 14th!
For the roulade:
5 egg whites at room temperature
180g caster sugar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
3 tsp cornflour
200g Crème pâtissière
100ml whipping cream
150g strawberries, small dice
70g passion fruit pulp, about 3 fruit
For the Pastry Cream:
250ml milk (I used semi skimmed)
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out, or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
3 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
15g plain flour
Make the Pastry Cream first:
Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the vanilla bean paste or vanilla pod and seeds. On a medium heat, bring up to just starting to boil. Take off the heat and leave to cool a little. Discard the vanilla pods if using.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, adding the sugar and flour and whisk until everything is nicely incorporated, pale, a little thickened and smooth.
Pour the warm milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking all the time, then return to the saucepan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring all the time, either with a whisk or a wooden spoon.
It should thicken quite quickly, then simmer gently for a few minutes or until the desired consistency is reached. It needs to be reasonably thick.
If it seems lumpy, don’t worry, just give it a good whisk until it becomes smooth.
Transfer the custard to a bowl, allow to cool and cover the surface with clingfilm or baking parchment to stop a skin forming. Refrigerate until needed.
Make the Pavlova Roulade:
Heat the oven to 150℃ and line a baking tray (I used a 15” x 11” tray) with baking parchment.
Using a balloon whisk, (or a stand mixer, if you have one) add the egg whites and sugar, and whisk for about 6-7 minutes until you have stiff peaks. Add the vinegar and cornflour and gently fold through until combined. Carefully pour into your baking tray and level out until smooth and flat.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes without opening the door until the surface is crisp, but without colour. It may puff up as it bakes but don’t worry about that.
Take the pastry cream out of the fridge to come to room temperature. Remove the meringue from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes.
Turn it out onto a sheet of baking parchment lightly sprinkled with caster sugar. Peel off the lining paper now on the top and leave to cool.
Whisk the whipping cream to soft (but not too soft) peaks and fold through the whipped cream until incorporated and a good spreading consistency.
Turn the meringue so a short edge is facing you, and spread the pastry cream over the surface but not up to the top edge (about three quarters the way up). Evenly sprinkle the strawberries and passion fruit pulp over the pastry cream.
Using the sugar coated baking parchment to help you, roll the meringue away from you towards the top edge, trying to keep as tight a roll as possible without losing too much of the filling.
A tip to help you start the rolling is to score a horizontal line (do not cut all the way through) about an inch in from the bottom edge.
Make sure the meringue is resting on its seam, and sprinkle with icing sugar.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge until needed and cut into thick slices to serve.