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Get ahead the festive season (and Jacqui Ackland's ultimate pavlova recipe)

The upcoming days of Christmas and New Year are always a frenzy at home. There’s always something happening (especially in my kitchen), and being prepared for all those drop-by guests, impromptu entertaining and other holiday obligations will help you have dinner for such important events under control.

You don’t want the holiday spirit to deflate with an awry-going recipe. Imagine your seemingly delicious dessert for this important family gathering, ending up like this week’s winner of the #TogetherWellMakeIt campaign “flatlova” - no one wants a disappointing result to ruin or delay your plans! That’s why, I’d like to share with you some tips that help me get through this cooking spree of a season:

Failed flat pavlova, submitted by the winner of this week's 'Together We'll Make It Campaign', celebrating cooking & baking fails and hopefully putting them right back on track with former MasterChef contestant, Jacqui Ackland, and the Total Control suite of hand blender products by Morphy Richards
  • Use everything you have, make space for the new. The lead up to Christmas is a great time to do some pantry cleaning. Sometimes I find ingredients I didn’t remember I still had, and that gets my creativity flowing. Diced tomato cans can give way to a refreshing ceviche, a few saffron strands left in that bag could make delicious paella.
  • Consider other appliances. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking ‘slow cooker’ is a hearty, heavy soup. How about I tell you it’s rather a perfect way of avoiding spending hot summer days in front of the stove? It’s also great to free some oven space, a coveted commodity during these times. There’s tons and tons of recipes for the warmer weather that can be done way easily in your slow cooker, you can even ‘bake’ dinner rolls there. Get some ideas from Pinterest, Instagram or the free Morphy Richards Slow Cooker E-book.
  • Do ahead. It’s not only about decorating or buying presents, but also about food. Whip up cream cheese, mix with smoked salmon, green onions and pinenuts, cover and refrigerate - voila! An absolutely irresistible smoked salmon spread you can serve with crackers or sliced veggies that will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Bake those Christmas puddings and mince pies now, and freeze them until needed. The more prepared you are for the unexpected, the more time you’ll have relaxing by the pool.
  • Trial any new recipes before the big days.  Found anything new you would like to prepare this year? Trial it! Some recipes require tweaking a bit the temperatures and times to adapt them to your existing kitchen appliances.
  • Get everyone involved. You shouldn’t be a slave to the kitchen. Christmas dinner is all about spending time with your loved ones, so get them involved. Give everyone a chore, and get yourself some time to enjoy this season too.

And now, for a perfect festive dessert, here’s my recipe for the ultimate pavlova. Light on the inside, with a crisp crust on the outside and topped with sweet fruits and mint:

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1½ cups caster sugar
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbl cornflour, sifted
  • Pavlova toppings*

NOTES

* For this instance, I decided to use some mango, strawberries, blueberries, honeycomb and fresh mint in a Spring combo; but you can use anything you like! Try some passionfruit and peaches in Summer, and throw in pitted cherries, salted caramel, shaved chocolate or pears during Autumn and Winter. If you remain seasonal, your dessert will not only taste amazing, but will also keep the costs down.

The author of this post is Jacqui Ackland, contestant of MasterChef Australia Series 7. Her pavlova recipe will be deliciously moist and crunchy, perfect for the holiday season and summertime.

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 120˚C in a conventional function, or 100˚C if using fan-forced.
  2. In a large bowl whisk egg whites until pale and frothy. Speed 8 of the Total Control Hand Blender will do the trick.

    Whisking egg whites as the base for the ultimate pavlova by Jacqui Ackland
  3. Add caster sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, whisking well between each addition.

    Caster sugar should be added 2 tablespoons at the time, for a perfect pavlova
  4. Once all the sugar is incorporated, whisk for around 10 mins until mixture is thick and glossy. The mix is ready when all the sugar is dissolved, you can test this by rubbing a small amount with your fingertips to feel for granules. Use speed 8 of the Total Control Hand Blender throughout this step.

    Mixture for pavlova should be thick and glossy. The Total Control Hand Blender Pro Set is perfect to whisk and dissolve all the sugar
  5. Gently stir in vinegar, vanilla essence and salt until combined. Use a lower speed for these ingredients, go for setting 2 if using the Total Control Hand Blender.
  6. Sift cornflour over mixture and fold in gently with a spachelor.
  7. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spoon meringue mixture onto tray in a 25cm circle.

    Jacqui Ackland scooping her pavlova mix on a baking tray
  8. Bake for 1½ hours until crisp on the outside. Turn oven off and prop door open with a wooden spoon and allow to cool completely.

    Jacqui Ackland about to bake her ultimate pavlova in a red Belling Richmond range cooker
  9. When cool, transfer to a serving plate and decorate as desired with your toppings and some whipped cream.
  10. Enjoy!

    MasterChef contestant, Jacqui Ackland's ultimate pavlova with a mango, berries, honeycomb and mint topping

Remember there's still more prizes to be won and recipes to be recreated during the Morphy Richards’ month-long #togetherwellmakeit baking & cooking fails competition. It's easy to participate through their Facebook and Instagram pages, and you could win a $129.95 Total Control Hand Blender Pro Set. Until the next kitchen disaster! Together we'll make it! 

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