I have always wanted to cook with roses. For me, it started with the book “Like Water for Chocolate”, by Lara Esquivel. Definitely the book, not the movie. The part in the book when the main character is making the Quail in Rose Sauce, in my mind, I could taste every salty tear. I could smell the roses as she plucked the petals. The fragrance getting stronger with each touch of human hands. I imagined the slightly bitter taste that each diner experienced as they bit into their meal.
Ever since, I’ve tried to work with roses. I’ve tried rose-water, rose jelly and even real rose petals. I always seemed to be heavy-handed and believe m, you can have too many roses!
Whenever I have the chance I try rose flavored foods. The flavor, when done right, is so delicate. I love just the hint of floral sweetness. Too much and it can be bitter, or taste like someones perfume. Yuck! Too little and you don’t know it’s there.
I have friends that learned to cook, growing up in Iran. Their ability to balance flavors, seems to be in their DNA. When I studied writing and cooking, in France; I could sense that years of study and apprentice were responsible for their balance.
Recently, while purging my pantry, I came across rose-water and rose jelly. I remembered enthusiastically purchasing them and I was going to use them right then. Ha! The other day I was t my local farmer’s market and overheard a woman buying rose petals to decorate a cake. These all conspired to make me want to try to cook with roses, again. So today I present to you a rose scented Pavlova!
Pavlovas are relatively easy to prepare and I like the wow factor the serving. Because of the color of this recipe it is ideal for Christmas or Valentines Day. It is so good, though, you should serve it today!
Rose Water & Pomegranate Pavlova
Preheat oven to 400° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Trace a 9" circle on the parchment paper, and turn over so pencil side is down.
In a small bowl mix cornstarch and vinegar until smooth. This helps make the pavlova the perfect blend of crispy and creamy.
Whisk eggs and salt in large CLEAN bowl (You can use a stand up mixer or handheld electric mixer), until stiff peaks form. Gradually add sugar, alternating with vinegar mixture. "Meringue" should be thick, smooth and shiny. Fold in rose water and pomegranate seeds, if using
Mound meringue mixture inside center of circle on parchment. You can do this in layers to get more height. I like to make a well in center and create swirls. This is pretty and will hold the whipped cream and decorations.
Turn oven down to 200° and bake meringue for at least 2 hours. It should be crispy when tapped and have a firm bottom. The bottom should not feel damp or soggy. Turn oven off but leave meringue in, until cool.
While meringue is cooling, make whipped cream.
In a cool mixing bowl pour 1 pint heavy whipping cream. Use an electric mixer and start beating, when it starts to bubble and get a little thicker add 2 Tbs. confectioners sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form.
To assemble, mound whipped cream in well of meringue. Sprinkle with additional pomegranate seeds and drizzle with pomegranate molasses.
This year I am making Passover seder both nights. While that may seem daunting, I am doing a lot of it ahead of time. This is new for me. I am no martyr. I give out assignments, everyone brings and I make the recipes that are better if they don’t travel. My point is I usually do everything the day of. This year I will join legions of cooks, some that started weeks ago, and freeze and thaw.
I am making my matzoh ball soup early in the week. As long as you freeze the balls in the soup and defrost in the refrigerator, it will still be delicious. Same for the brisket, chicken, macaroons, and popovers. I can make my hard boiled eggs early in the week and even get my tables set. The only things I’ll have to do the day of is put together my seder plates and make my desserts. This year’s desserts won’t necessarily work better made ahead of time.
When going gluten-free became popular, it opened a world of recipes for Passover, too. Not all gluten-free recipes are kosher for Passover, but the flourless chocolate cake is. The one bummer of some of the flourless cakes is they tend to collapse int he middle, after baking. This year I will use that collapse to my advantage and fill with a mascarpone chantilly cream. You can dust it with some chocolate shavings or add some fresh fruit and mint for garnish. It is beautiful a tastes divine.
This cake can be made a day ahead of time. I am making this on Thursday so picture to come
Preheat oven to 350° and lightly butter springform pan and dust with extra sugar. Be sure to tap out excess.
Combine chocolate, oil and butter in heat proof bowl and place over simmering water. Water should not be touching bowl. Stir until chocolae is melted and incorporated. Remove from heat.
In a bowl whisk the 4 yolks plus 2 whole eggs, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt. Temper the chocolate with the egg mixture then whisk all together, until smooth.
Use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites until frothy then gradually start adding 1/2 cup of sugar. Continue beat until you have firm peaks. Fold egg whites into chocolate mix, until just incorporated. You may want to do this in two steps.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top level. Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbs. sugar.
I like to put pan on a baking sheet and then bake for 35-45 minutes. The top of the cake should be cracking and the edges pulling away, slightly.
Cool completely on a wire rack. Dont worry the cake is suppose to fall inthe center.
Use an electric mixer, start beating the mascarpone then add the heavy cream and sugar. Beat until soft, cloud-like, peaks form.
Once cake is completely cooled, loosen sides of springform and remove from cake.
Mound whipped cream in center of cake and garnish with chocolate shavings or fresh fruit and mint leaves. Enjoy!