dancing in the clouds.

{ cream filled berry pavlova }

Named after russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, this beautiful dessert is a sure crowd stunner. The ideal pavlova meringue has a crispy shell and a fluffy marshmallow-like interior. Don't panic if your meringue cracks - there really is something perfect about such imperfection. Sublimity can be easily achieved with a thick layer of lemon twisted whipped cream and an overload of fresh berries. I finished mine by pouring over a little port wine reduction and, inspired by the happenstance of the first snowfall of the season, I dusted it all with confectioner's sugar.

If you follow me on Facebook, you may be already aware that I have just completed my twenty fourth spin around the sun, as I celebrated my birthday last weekend. I will talk a bit more about it on my next post, where I will share everything you need to know to throw a great brunch party! Stay tuned, because it is going to be totally worth it!

While that post is still brewing, I am first bringing you the beauté of the party, a delicious berry pavlova with a hint of lemon and port wine! I have to admit I have mostly overlooked pavlovas as a dessert and kind of cast them aside and thrown them into the "seriously beautiful but not that awesome to eat" category. This pavlova was a game changer. And to my surprise, long after the initial impression on how pretty it was had faded away, my guests were delighted at the taste of it! Even I was impressed, and that is not to say the least - I am quite strict with whatever comes out of my kitchen!

I hope you will try this recipe and send me pictures of your own pavlovas. Do not get put off by its prettiness - it's not that hard to whip up, and everybody will be deeming you chef pâtissier in no time!

But wait...
Before the pavlova, I would like to share a little something by one of my favourite writters with you. It was published on my birthday, and I have found it so impressive that I had a sudden urge to translate it to english. I hope I did a good job, because in portuguese it is quite something. The original version can be found on this link. Give it a try!


What hugs say.

To bring the tips of the shoulders together and give a couple of pats in the back is not a hug. To write “hug” at the end of an e-mail is not a hug either. Regardless of the social and technological development, a hug is still two people who come together and squeeze themselves one against the other.

These guys who show up in summer festivals holding posters offering hugs have wit and may even be well-intentioned, but they make misleading advertisement. It is not the hugs what draws the connections, it is the connections what draws the hugs. A hug is not merely two people who come together and squeeze themselves one against the other.

A hug has a lot of significance.

When I was a child, I would have been maybe nine or ten years old, my father gave me a hug in the kitchen of our home. It was early morning because that was the time at which, back then, one would leave my village on their way to Lisbon. My father had a surgical intervention scheduled at the hospital, he was wearing his new clothes and he was scared. As he hugged me, my father cried because, for a moment, he believed he might never see me again. My father’s arms run over my shoulders, my head sat on his belly, on the pullover. The lamp we had lit above us cast a light that painted everything it touched yellow: the table where we had dinner every day, the air that we had breathed there for so many hours previous to that one, for so many hours oblivious of that one. My father wore a very nauseating aftershave, a cheap one, which somebody had offered him for Christmas.

The surgery went good. After the shock, after the convalescence, my father returned home with a thick and purple scar on his belly, it came on display when his shirt slipped out of his pants or at the beach, even though he wore his shorts exaggeratedly pulled up. After that, we were entitled to nine years over which we did not have to think about goodbyes.

For a very long time I have sought in all my memory: the recollection of when he returned from the surgery or, after that, when we were the same height or, even later, when he got ill for the last time. But I have abandoned the hunt, I cannot recall another occasion in which we have hugged each other once more. That early morning in the kitchen, the yellow light, the aftershave, that was the only time we hugged each other in our lives.

I do not put it lightly when I affirm that a hug has a lot of significance. For almost fifteen years I’ve been writing books simply about that hug.

November 22nd, 2015
José Luís Peixoto
(translated by me)

And finally...

pavlova com natas batidas, mirtilhos e framboesas,
com redução de vinho do porto.

4 claras L
225g de açúcar
2 c. de sopa de maizena
1 c. de sopa de vinagre
1 c. chá de aroma de baunilha (opc.)

500 ml de natas frescas com 30% de gordura
1/2 chávena de açúcar
1/2 chávena de açúcar em pó
1 c. de sopa de maizena
sumo de 1 limão

mirtilhos e framboesas frescos q.b.

30ml de vinho do Porto
2 c. de sopa de açúcar
1 c. de chá de xarope de baunilha
açúcar em pó para polvilhar

Nota: Para obter os melhores resultados, as claras devem estar à temperatura ambiente e não devem entrar em contacto com quaisquer vestígios de gordura ou outros resíduos. Limpar todos os utensílios necessários muito bem com sumo de limão, utilizando um pedaço de papel absorvente. Separar as claras das gemas uma a uma, juntando-as apenas no final.

Pré-aquecer o forno a 170ºC.
Para fazer o merengue, bater as claras com uma batedeira eléctrica manual. Começar com velocidade baixa, até obter espuma, e aumentar gradualmente a velocidade, até obter uma textura branca e fofa, sem deixar que cheguem a estar firmes. Juntar o açúcar, uma colher de cada vez, batendo sempre, continuando em velocidade média-alta até obter uma textura bem firme e brilhante, sem grãos de açúcar - provar um pouco para o verificar.
Juntar a farinha maizena, a baunilha e o vinagre e envolver tudo cuidadosamente, sem esmagar o merengue.
Com a ajuda de um aro ou um prato, desenhar um círculo guia do tamanho desejado numa folha de papel vegetal. Colocar sobre um tabuleiro de forno e encher o círculo com o merengue, utilizando duas colheres para lhe dar a forma desejada, deixando o uma ligeira cova no centro.
Levar ao forno na prateleira inferior, reduzindo a temperatura para 100ºC, e deixar cozinhar cerca de uma hora e meia. Deixar arrefecer completamente no forno, cerca de 3 horas. Pode ser feito no dia anterior e mantido à temperatura ambiente, caso a humidade não seja excessiva.
Terminar a pavlova um par de horas antes de servir. Para isso, começar por misturar os açúcares do recheio e a maizena muito bem. Bater as natas em chantilly, acrescentando a mistura de açúcar aos poucos após começarem a firmar. À parte, numa frigideira sobre o lume, reduzir todos os ingredientes da calda até espessar.
Rechear a pavlova com o chantilly, decorar com os frutos vermelhos, terminar com um fio da calda e polvilhando com açúcar em pó.
Servir imediatamente ou manter no frio.


cream filled berry pavlova,
with port wine reduction.

4 large egg whites
225g sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla syrup (opt.)

500 ml cream, 30% fat
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
juice of one lemon

fresh blueberries and raspberries

30ml Port wine
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla syrup
confectioner's sugar for dusting

Note: As to get the best results, the egg whites must be at room temperature and they must not come into contact with any residues of fat or others. Wipe all tools with lemon juice with a piece of paper. Separate the eggs individually to avoid ruining all egg whites with one leaky yolk.

Pre-heat oven at 170ºC.
To prepare the meringue, whip the egg whites with a hand mixer. Start at a low setting, until the mixture is foamy, then gradually increase the speed, until soft peaks form. While beating at medium-high speed, add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating until silky stiff peaks form and the sugar is all dissolved - try it to be sure.
Carefully fold in cornstarch, vanilla and vinegar.
Using a dish as reference, draw a circle on a piece of parchment paper. Place over a baking tray and fill it with the meringue. Shaping it with the help of two spoons and make a small well in the center.
Place in the bottom rack of the oven and reduce the temperature to 100ºC. Bake for about one and a half hours. Leave in the oven to cool completely, about three hours. It can be done one day ahead and left at room temperature if the humidity levels are not too high.
Finish the pavlova a couple of hours before serving. Prepare the filling: sift sugars and cornstarch together. Whip the cream, gradually adding the sugar after they start firming up. In a pan, reduce all ingredients for the reduction to a thick syrup.
Fill the pavlova with the cream, top with the berries, finish with a drizzle of the syrup and dust with confectioner's sugar.
Serve immediately or keep in the fridge.


have a nice Sunday!
and hug those you should ;)


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