Orange Cream Biscotti

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I could biscotti every day. Yes, I just used biscotti as a verb. You can verb any word, to be honest. See what I did there. But, in my humble opinion, the best words to verb are food words.

“Yo, guacamole dat.”
“Pizza me.”

I think you get the drift. Food is always the best choice. Anyways, back to biscotti teehee.

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As I wrote in a previous blog post, biscotti are the perfect sweet snack because there’s very little added fat. Plus, they’re super crispy and perfect for DUNKING. These biscotti are citrus flavored, orange-y to be exact. But they’re called orange cream because of the yummy vanilla I put in. The vanilla and orange create a flavor like those orange creamsicles you used to eat. Try ‘em out and they might just be a suitable substitute for those :)

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Recipe: (Makes 12 mini biscotti)

1 egg
1 vanilla bean
1/4 tsp. orange extract
1 tsp clementine or orange zest
2/3 cup APF
1/4 cup packed vanilla sugar*
2/3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

-Preheat oven to 300F
-Whisk egg, inside of 1 vanilla bean, orange extract, and zest  in a small bowl
-Mix together flour, vanilla sugar, baking powder, and kosher salt in a large bowl
-Add egg mixture to dry mixture and mix until uniform (don’t overmix!)
-Form the dough into a flat loaf shape (3 inches wide and about 1/2 inch high)
-Bake for 30 minutes at 300F
-Then reduce oven temperature to 275 and bake for 10 min
-Lastly, increase the oven temperature to 325 and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden-brown
-Transfer to a wire rack
-Biscotti will crisp up when cool!

*You can substitute regular sugar for the vanilla sugar (but to make vanilla sugar, stick the leftover bean after scraping out the seeds in a jar with granulated sugar)

Hope you guys love this recipe :)

Be healthy, eat healthy
Xo Navika

Fig and Almond Energy Balls

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Sitting in my research lab, waiting an hour for gel electrophoresis to finish this GOSH DARN Western Blot. If you have no idea what I’m talking about consider yourself thankful. As cool as this cardiovascular physiology research is there’s so little active working time and SO MUCH WAITING. Okay, so if I took that philosophy and applied it to all my recipes, I’d be a happy camper…little active time coupled with some wait time to yield a beautiful product. I’m okay with that. But when you’re sitting in a lab and can’t EAT the result, that’s my issue (hehe). Anyways, luckily this recipe requires MINIMAL active time and MINIMAL waiting time. Easiness on a plate!

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These snacks are called Fig Almond Energy Balls. They’re great to supplement a quick breakfast or for a sweet afternoon bite with coffee. I call them energy balls because they have lots of nutrients and natural sugars from the dried fruits, nuts, and seeds that give you a jolt of energy! The best part is you can make a bunch ahead of time and just store them in the fridge until ready to eat. Plus, they’re customizable and who doesn’t love customizable stuff forreal.

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The best part of this recipe is the seeds of the fig and chia seeds that add a slight poppy crunch to the smooth dried fruit bite and the almonds that add a creamy, crispy nuttiness to the sweetness. Yooooo gimme.

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I wrap them in plastic wrap when storing them in the refrigerator, so it’s easy to grab one and go. But you could totally store it in an airtight container in the fridge, as well.

Recipe (Makes 10 balls)
3 oz. almonds (about 24 almonds)
1- 1/3 cup of dried figs
1/2 cup of dried dates
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp hemp seeds (optional)

In a food processor, pulse the 3 oz of almonds until each almonds seeds broken up at least into quarters. Place in a large bowl
In the same food processor add dried figs and dates and pulse until a smooth paste forms. Add to almonds
Then process the dried cranberries, chia seeds, and cinnamon just until the dried cranberries are slightly broken up
Place into large bowl and mix until all ingredients are evenly combined
Roll into balls to make 10 even sized bites
Optional step: Roll each ball into hemp seeds to cover them (I did this once and they turned out nice! It also eliminated the slight stickiness of the balls)

To customize: switch out almonds for a different type of nuts (hazelnuts, pistachios, etc.) or switch out the cranberries for some other dried fruits (chopped up dried mango, apricots)

Now you’re done! Get yo energy balls to go.

Eat healthy, be healthy
xo Navika

Banana Granola

IMG_0411I am honestly so proud of this recipe! This is the recipe I’ve made the most test batches for and I’ve had a crazy lot of people taste it. So, if any of my recipes are good, I’d bet it’s this one! Okay, banana granola originally came about because of how our household works. We always have WAY too many bananas. Like there’s 5 people living here, only 2 of them eat bananas, and there will be literally like 2 dozen in the fruit bowl. See my problem?! There’s only so much banana bread and smoothies one can make. That’s how this granola recipe materialized! Plus, using ripe bananas helps you cut down on the added sugar and fat in this recipe! YAY.

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The other awesome thing about this recipe is that there’s a base and a multitude of options to make it to your taste! Also, you can double, triple, etc. this recipe.

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Lol more pics.

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Recipe: (Makes about 4 cups)
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup dried fruit (cranberries work the best–other dried fruits seem to release moisture and possibly soften granola. If you use other dried fruit, chop into the size of dried cranberries!)
1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1 tsp. orange zest
2 medium bananas
1/2 heaping tsp. cinnamon
4 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
1/3 cup cacao nibs or dried coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Mix together oats, fruit, quinoa, chia, hemp, and zest in a large bowl
In a blender/food processor blend bananas, cinnamon, syrup, oil, and vanilla until smooth
Add liquid blend into the oats mix and combine completely
Bake on parchment paper on baking sheets in the middle rack of the oven for 15 minutes
After 15 minutes, flip the granola so that the bottom pieces are now on top
Bake another 15 minutes
Decrease oven temperature to 350F, add optional cacao nibs or dried coconut, and bake for 5 minutes

Now you have a yummy, fun, cool, awesome, healthy snack! YAY

Be healthy, eat healthy xo Navika

Lavender and Vanilla Bean Biscotti

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Wow, it’s literally been 4 months since I last posted. Dang, now that I think about it, a lot has changed in these four months! I finished my first year at college, started a research position at my school, and learned that cleansing is so not the way to go (see last blog post jaja). One thing that has not changed, though, is food heh. Still cooking, still eating. When I say the cleanse didn’t work, I realized that Madi and I do eat really well and exercise regularly. We don’t need fad cleanses to reign us in. Just eat home-cooked and natural and you’ll be golden :)

This blog post is on Lavender and Vanilla Bean Biscotti. This shows that you CAN eat dessert and live healthy! I think it’s really important to know what’s going in your food and avoid unnecessary additives. This recipe is so simple and contains so few ingredients that you know exactly what you’re getting! Also, the awesome thing about biscotti is that since you bake it twice (da definition of biscotti), you don’t needed added fat. Read on for summer yummies.

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Recipe: (Makes 12 mini biscotti)

1 egg
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 level tsp. lavender buds, crushed*
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup packed vanilla sugar**
2/3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

-Preheat oven to 300F
-Whisk egg, inside of 1/2 vanilla bean, and lavender buds in a small bowl
-Mix together flour, vanilla sugar, baking powder, and kosher salt in a large bowl
-Add egg mixture to dry mixture and mix until uniform (don’t overmix!)
-Form the dough into a flat loaf shape (3 inches wide and about 1/2 inch high)
-Bake for 30 minutes at 300F
-Then reduce oven temperature to 275 and bake for 10 min
-Lastly, increase the oven temperature to 325 and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden-brown
-Transfer to a wire rack and they will crisp up when cooled!

 

WEEEEEE! Hope you love these flavors and this sweet snack! Be healthy and happy :)

*Two things! One, lavender buds are hard to find at your regular grocery store so you might have to try a grocery store that has a gourmet products section (or a tea shop!) Two, make sure to crush lavender buds so that they are not overwhelmingly floral. To crush them, just chop them up with a large knife and crush with the flat side of the knife to break up even more.

**Vanilla sugar can be made by putting granulated sugar into a jar with empty vanilla bean pods. If you don’t have vanilla sugar, just mix granulated mixture with 1/2 tsp vanilla extract!

Pizza Pull-apart Bread

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My friend Madi and I are starting a cleanse next week. Only fruits and veggies. Monday – Thursday. See, college food takes a toll on you. A diet of pasta, cereal, and granola is less than ideal. *Ashamed at how much chocolate milk and cereal I’ve eaten* So, to feel fresh, clean, and not groggy all the time, we’re doing this cleanse!

So that we don’t cheat, I’m going to outline our greatest struggles:
Skip the cookie butter….MADI
Pass on microwave nachos
Extra no to dining hall cookies

So, liiiike, if we can overcome those three, we can overcome it all. With the right balance of vegetables: dark green, anthocyanin-containing, and starchy veg. we should be able to obtain our essential vitamins and minerals. CLEANSE HERE WE COMEEEEEE.

Anyways, in honor of the cleanse, I thought I would post this carby, cheesy, pizza deliciousness. I’ll miss you soft, crusty bread and herb-y cheese, but I’ll see you Friday, promise.

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Recipe: (Yield: 1 loaf)

2.25 tsp. yeast
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
2.75-3 cups APF
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup marinara
1 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese
4 cloves roasted garlic
1/4 cup asiago or parmesan cheese
1 tbsp italian seasoning

Mix together yeast in 1 cup of 120-130F water and 1/3 cup sugar
In a kitchen-aid mixer, add in 2.75 cups of flour, salt, and the yeast mixture
Mix until dough comes together into a round, but not smooth yet, ball
Flour a clean surface, take the dough out and knead it for about 6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and in a ball
Let it rise in a covered bowl, until it has doubled in size
Once it has risen, roll it out in a 11 x 18 rectangle
Spread on the marinara, roasted garlic, seasoning and cheese
Cut into 24 mini rectangles and arrange in a greased loaf tin
Cover loaf tin and let rise until doubled
Preheat oven to 350 F and bake for 40-45 minutes

Srsly pull apart when done, yum yum xoxo enjoy. You can live a healthy lifestyle, but still indulge in recipes like this :)

Spice Cupcakes

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Lol, I fake hate seasonal recipes. Okay, so let me deconstruct that sentence. “Fake hate” means I love hating on something, but I truly don’t hate it…oftentimes I don’t even dislike it, so there’s that. Now, you know seasonal recipes. Like berry trifles during the summer, peppermint bark during the winter, citrus macarons in the spring, and spice cupcakes in the fall. So, my issue with seasonal recipes is that people feel that they can ONLY make/eat/crave them during that particular season. WRONG. I’m posting these spice cupcakes in January for all of you that missed the short period of time where people eat spice flavored things i.e. after Halloween to Thanksgiving.


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Okay, don’t hate me, but this recipe doesn’t include a recipe for the cinnamon frosting because I rarely use a real recipe for frosting. I just dump everything in a bowl, beat it with my hand mixer, and cross my fingers. For reference though, I used cream cheese, powdered sugar, cinnamon, a dash of vanilla, and some vegetable shortening.

So, anyways, these are a lightened version because they only use 1/3 cup of oil and absolutely no butter! This is because they use pumpkin puree in place of extra fat. Okay, I avoided calling these pumpkin cupcakes because you really can’t taste the pumpkin because of the spices. I can attest to this because my sister hates pumpkin. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, pumpkin rolls, pumpkin spiced lattes… IT ALL. So, that’s why I just call these spice cupcakes :)

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Recipes: (Makes 12 cupcakes)

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a medium sized bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices
In a large bowl, mix together sugar and oil until combined, then add pumpkin puree, eggs, and vanilla until smooth
Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until just combined (do not overmix!)
Transfer batter to lined or greased muffin tins
Bake for 23-25 minutes or until top springs back when you touch it

Cool, frost, and enjoy your timeless cupcake the light way xox

Honey Avocado Smoothie

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Blah, I’m back in school. Oddly enough, I thought I’d missed it much more than I really have. There’s still something really nice about waking up in your own room, opening up your own fridge, and lazy around looking REAL ugly. That’s not to say I’m not liking it right now. I actually love this winter semester (sometimes more than the regular fall semester eep). I mean, there’s about 75 percent less people here. So, my large research university of 16,000 undergrads now feels like a small, cozy 4,000 seater. The best part that no one tells you is that OK…the bathrooms are deserted. No more awkward small talk when you go in to do your business or to brush your teeth or to wash your face or fix your hair. I think I’ve mumbled a toothpaste-y: “Good, how are you?” way more times than I can count. Another thing, I’ve been in my room alone for 5+ hours today and I don’t feel the least bit bad about it. It’s nice being alone sometimes :) (Especially if you need to catch up on the Bachelor *cough* Juan Pablo *cough cough cough times a million*).

Anyways this is a smoothie recipe that I love because the avocado makes it so creamy that you don’t need any dairy! It makes you feel clean and refreshed. Plus, it’s super simple so if you are in a college dorm I’m sure you can whip up one, granted you haven’t just prepared a new bowl of ramen…for the 5th day in a row hehe.

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Serves 2

1 avocado
1 frozen banana
1.5 cups of water
1.5 cups of spinach
1 tbsp honey

Add all the ingredients into a blender and mix well!
Yup, that’s really it.
{Side note: If you don’t have frozen bananas, put a regular banana in and about 1/2 – 1 cup of crushed ice. Does the trick}

Have a lovely, healthy, and happy New Year :)

Garlic and Cheese Pull Apart Bread

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My mom asked me to make “those Pizza Hut garlic sticks” the other day. I refused.

Well, I mean I refused to make those butter-laden, factory produced bars of dough. Instead I made garlic and cheese pull apart bread. Is that an okay replacement? Hm, yeah. This bread is soft, chewy, cheesy, herby. So, like, basically awesome.

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IMG_8463I stole an inch strip of dough and rolled it into an individual cinnamon roll. Don’t judge. Post-bread baking snack, chyeah.

Recipe: (Makes 1 loaf)

1 1/4 oz packet of yeast (2.25 tsp yeast)
1 cup warm water (120-130 degreesF)
1/3 cup sugar
2.5-3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp olive oil

1 bulb of roasted garlic (Cut off the top so the cloves are showing, cover in aluminum foil, bake for 30 minutes at 350degreesF)
1 cup chopped  basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/2 cup low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt

Mix the water and sugar together and sprinkle the packet of yeast on top
In the meantime, add 2 cups of flour and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer and pulse to combine
When yeast mixture becomes frothy, add in olive oil and add to the stand mixer
Mix on medium speed until a soft, but not necessarily smooth, ball of dough forms, adding upto 1 cup of flour as necessary (Personally, I used about 2.5 cups total)
When a soft ball forms, take out of the stand mixer and knead on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes or until a smooth, elastic ball forms (if you push on this ball, it will bounce back, leaving barely an indent!)
Put in an oiled bowl and cover, leaving to rise until doubled (about 1 hour)
Once proofed, roll into a rectangle so the dough is 1/8 inch thick
Slather (love that word lol) with 1 tbsp of olive oil
Then spread with roasted garlic
On top of the roasted garlic push in  the cheese and herbs and a light sprinkle of salt
Cut into 12 rectangles

Line a loaf tin with parchment paper at the bottom, oil the sides, and stack the dough pieces
To stack dough pieces, rest the first one on the edge of the loaf tin and lean each piece after on the one before. If it isn’t centered (mine wasn’t hehe) drag the side with more parchment paper a little away from the other side until the bread centers, cut the parchment paper, and add to the other side to patch up the missing paper. Sounds insane, but works)
Cover the loaf tin and let rise for an hour or until pieces look doubled in width
After proofing, lightly salt the top and bake at 400degreesF for 45-55 minutes. To check for doneness, stick a thermometer into the thickest part and look for the magic number 190 degreesF!) If it’s browning too early, just tent with some aluminum foil (I had to!)

Recipe tip: Do not shed a tear when your freshly baked bread cools down, (we know it’s the best right out of the oven sigh…) pull a slice off and toast it! It becomes crispy on the outside while being soft as a pillow on the inside. Speaking of bread, I’m going to toast myself a piece of this loaf right now! Happy baking, and more importantly, happy eating :)

Lovely Sour Cream Lemon Bars

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I’m on a challenge. It’s slightly self-issued and slightly mandated by my mother. It’s a challenge to finish up our food storages before I go to college. Because, really, after that, who else will? Okay, so here are a few things you should understand about our food storage. We have not only 1 fridge and freezer, but two. The insides of the freezer are stocked with various frozen fruits, cheeses (yeah, you can freeze them!), and sauces. So, I must deplete those stores. But, oh wait, I forgot to mention the TWO pantries full of dry ingredients. So, yeah, I admit I have a problem when I go to the grocery store. I buy stuff… a lot of it….and it goes in storage. There are pastas, different types of grains, cookies, and much more. One of my “worst” purchases is a bulk box of graham crackers. Like the 6 pack of graham cracker boxes from Costco. I really don’t know what I was thinking….6 boxes of graham crackers. OTHER THAN SMORES FOR EVERY MEAL WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THAT. Well, using up graham crackers was my mission today and I made a nonconventional graham cracker crust to go with these lovely lemon bars. And they were delicioso. Mission accomplished. Anyways….

It’s not often recipes go straight from the oven to the computer. These lovely lemon bars have hit that mark.

“Oh, these are good,” is a direct quote from my sister who rarely compliments a dish unless it’s up to her super high standards. So, I like to think this hits the bar. Also, my mother took nagging to a new level when she nagged my little brother to actually eat dessert. Go figure. Anyways, these are not your average lemon bars; they are lovely lemon bars. What makes them so lovely, you ask? They’re THICK, unlike most basic bars, and FLUFFY, unlike most basic bars. But even while being thick and fluffy, they’re still gelatinous and totally reminiscent of those thin lemon bars you are thinking of. Except for the graham cracker crust!

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Yum, look at that full shot. These are so soft and fluffy, cutting while warm becomes really tricky. (Day 2 observation, cutting while cold is soo much easier and yields clean lines YESSS)

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I took two bites out of that piece. They were delicious. But look at that ratio of lemony goodness to crispy crust….perfection!


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This shot is so you can see the fluffiness. I’m *not* ashamed of posting four pictures of these hehe.

Recipe: (1 8×8 or 9×9 pan)

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tbsp sugar

1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp lemon extract
5 tbsp all purpose flour
7 tbsp low-fat sour cream
3 eggs
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
In a food processor or in a large bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar
Pack into the bottom of a parchment paper lined dish
Bake crust for 15 minutes or until edges are browned
While crust is baking, in a large bowl add the next ingredients in the order listed. So, add the sugar, then lemon zest, then lemon juice, etc. (I find that adding eggs and lemons and letting them sit “cooks” the eggs because of the acid and makes them smell funky, so that’s why I put eggs in at the last possible moment)
Mix well until everything is combined
When crust comes out of the oven, pour the mixture onto the hot crust
Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes
Lower oven to 325 for about another 20 minutes
It will be done when the edges turn brown/the mixture is set and not liquidy/a toothpick hits a relatively set center

So, I just typed let cool before cutting, but let’s be real…we’re all going to dig right into this :) Enjoy!

Chocolate and Berry Pavlova

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Two days ago my mother came home from work and asked if I had “taken a break.” I had no idea what she meant, I had been on summer break for the last month and a half literally doing nothing. Then she glossed her arm across our dining table. Ahh, I had taken a break from cooking. So, I usually make either lunch, dinner, or dessert every day! However, the past two days I hadn’t made really anything. (Edit: I tested out a recipe for “small-batch cupcakes” yesterday which failed miserably so I like to not count those) But yeah, I hadn’t made anything! And I was craving dessert because last night the MasterChef pressure test was making eclairs (which I made before–check out the My Random Musings tab at the top!). So, that brings me to this lovely pavlova.

Behold a dessert that contains one of the best flavor combinations in the world of pastry: chocolate and berries. Okay, I’ll admit I wasn’t too hot on this flavor profile a few years ago. But my sister LOVES chocolate raspberry anything. So, if I’m making desserts, gotta make what the fam will eat and, alas, that is a chocolate berry combo. The super awesome aspect of this dessert is its lightness…in both senses of the word. It’s barely caloric (so, lightand it’s made with whipped egg whites leading it to weigh next to nothing (so, light). It also utilizes berries which make it a perfect summer dessert.

Traditional pavlovas are shrouded with a mountain of freshly whipped cream. My twist, instead of whipped cream, which is so caloric, is putting a lighter raspberry flavored pastry cream on it. This desert desssert OMG dessert (Sorry, I’m listening to Muse right now, their old stuff is so good!) is a gem in the sense that there’s perfect balance: not too sweet, tangy from the berries, creamy from the pasty cream, crispy on the edges, and melt-in-your mouth center. Plus, there’s like barely any hands on work. So, for all the lazy bakers, whip out that stand mixer and get ready for a beautiful pavlova ;)

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Pavlova Recipe:

6-7 oz egg whites (1 egg white is also an ounces, so this could read 6-7 egg whites, I just used my scale for a batch of egg whites I had in the freezer. SPEAKING OF. I should mention, egg whites freeze beautifully! Just put them in a freezer safe air tight container. To defrost sit the container in room temperature water. It will be defrosted in about 2 hours, or you can stick the container in the fridge overnight!) (Also, do not discard yolks! You’ll need 1 for the pastry cream below and you can always make extra pastry cream and freeze it. It freezes well in a ziploc baggie–double bagged. For the rest, store in the fridge in a container and in the next 2 days make a lemon/lime meringue pie…delish!)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
Trace an 8 inch round circle on parchment paper. Put trace side down on a baking sheet–this is the mold for the pavlova
In an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until frothy
Mix salt into sugar and then start adding sugar 1 tbsp at a time until done
Keep whipping until the egg whites become thick and stiff peaks form (Do not let them get dry though, that means a lot of the air has been sucked out!)
Once the egg whites are stiff, fold in cocoa powder, vinegar, and vanilla without deflating too much
Create a circle on the parchment paper. The circle should have raised edges with a slightly indented center for filling.
Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes
After 1 hr. and 10 min. turn the oven off and let the pavlova cool in the closed oven. This will take anywhere from 3-6 hours. After about an hour you can opt to leave the oven door a crack open at this point the cold air shouldn’t affect the rise of the pavlova.

Raspberry Pastry Cream Recipe:

1/2 cup fat-free milk
3 tbsp white sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp vanilla paste
Scant 2 tbsp raspberry jam

Mix together egg yolk, cornstarch, and 1 tbsp of sugar
Heat fat-free milk and 2 tbsp of sugar in a saucepan until it starts to simmer in a large, heatproof bowl
At this point, stream the milk mixture into the egg mixture whisking vigorously so the eggs do not cook (it will get all bubbly and frothy, that’s okay)
Once the milk is combined into the egg, add the milk/egg mixture back to the saucepan and bring to bubbles, stirring constantly and all around
As soon as it starts thickening a little bit add in the jam
Keep stirring until it is fully thick and then add in vanilla paste
Take of heat immediately and transfer to a dish.
Cover dish with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the surface of the cream so that a film does not form

When the pavlova and cream have cooled, spread the cream onto the pastry, stopping about 1.5 inches from the edge (form a little pizza crust!). This keeps the edges crispy and chewy. Top the pastry cream with about 1/2 cup of BERRIES (I picked blueberries, which looked lovely in the color scheme and tasted amazing!)

Enjoy, dig in, and take pictures of your lovely dish!