Perhaps many of you have reached that point in your lives where you’d really love to entertain your friends with a little more flair and sophistication, but feel quite intimidated by the prospect. Maybe your children are nagging you to arrange really fun birthday parties for them, but the very thought has you quaking. Possibly someone is getting married and would love a beautiful wedding reception, but simply can’t stretch the budget to include an expensive wedding planner or caterer.
Well, to the rescue comes Janet Kohler. Janet is a perfectionist with an attention to detail that is quite breathtaking. With the assistance of stylist extraordinaire Penelope Mitchell, in ‘Perfect Parties’ she presents a dazzling array of inspirational party ideas, complemented by delicious recipes. She also guides the reader through every aspect of a party, whether it’s a birthday, engagement, picnic, baby shower, wedding or high tea, or just the family Christmas celebration. From choosing a theme; through décor and preparation countdowns; right down to the step-by-step recipes – it’s all there, lavishly illustrated with beautiful photography.
Originally an economist, Janet decided to follow her heart and train as a cordon bleu cook, but now as a stay-at-home mother of young children, she runs her own cookery school from her home in Durban.
Chocolate and cherry cream meringue gâteau
“The inspiration for making a chocolate Pavlova (which is, in essence, what this gâteau is) came from our dear friend and a wonderful cook, Stephanie Pattinson, who I regard as a second mom. It is a really special dessert: meringue stacked high with layers of cream and melted chocolate, finished off with cherries. True decadence, but so worth the effort.” – Janet Kohler
Ingredients for the chocolate meringue:
- 8 egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 450g castor sugar
- 10ml vanilla extract
- 20ml white vinegar
- 40ml cornflour, sifted
- 30ml cocoa powder, sifted
Ingredients for the layers:
- 180g good quality dark chocolate
- 200ml cream (for melting with chocolate)*
- 10ml vanilla extract or seed scrapings of 1 vanilla pod
- 300ml cream, whipped until just stiff*
- Fresh cherries or strawberries for garnishing
- Grated chocolate for garnishing (optional)
- *500ml cream in total is used in this recipe
Method for the meringue:
Preheat the oven to 140°C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
Whisk the egg whites with the salt until just stiff. Gradually mix in the castor sugar, one spoon at a time. Whisk the mixture until glossy and thick.
Using a metal spoon, fold in the vanilla, vinegar, cornflour and cocoa powder lightly but thoroughly.
Spoon the meringue mixture onto the prepared baking sheet (make 4 circles, each with a 20cm diameter, with a fairly thick base and a raised edge).
Bake for 1 hour, then turn off the heat and leave in the oven until completely cold (preferably overnight).
Method for the filling:
Place the chocolate and 200ml cream in a double boiler and stir over low heat until the chocolate has just melted. Leave to cool completely.
Stir the vanilla into the 300ml whipped cream.
Place a meringue disc on a serving platter, spread with a quarter of the chocolate mixture followed by a quarter of the whipped cream. Top with another meringue disc and repeat three more times. Garnish the final layer of chocolate and cream with fresh fruit and grated chocolate (optional).
Coffee and hazelnut alternative
Omit the cocoa powder from the meringue recipe and add 20ml instant espresso coffee powder to the mixture instead. Once the meringue discs are baked, layer them with whipped cream and caramel-dipped hazelnuts.
Note: For one large Pavlova, halve the ingredients for the chocolate meringue. Top with melted chocolate and cream (optional).
© Janet Kohler ……….. Perfect Parties 2014 … Published by Struik Lifestyle