Hi Leah and Leah’s blog friends – thanks so much for having me here today.
My novel ONE PERFECT NIGHT is set at Christmas, so I thought I’d share a few Aussie Christmas traditions with you today. When it comes to Christmas, there are a lot of things we do differently down here in Australia.
For one thing, Christmas where I come from is usually HOT. Sometimes over forty degrees Celsius. Some people still cook the traditional turkey roast but I hear fewer and fewer people are taking this option. Even my Mum who is English through and through, doesn’t think the heat of having the oven on on Christmas Day is worth the tradition. People down under often have cold meats and salads or throw another shrimp on the barbie!
Instead of gathering round a cozy log fire, we’re more likely to be outside by the pool or at the beach beating off the mozzies (nasty little things that bite) and watching the kids splash about.
We even have our own Christmas Carols. A favourite at my kids’ schools is Six White Boomers, Snow White Boomers and Christmas Where The Gum Trees Grow. We even have our own version of Jingle Bells!
And when it comes to dessert, I think we are less traditional than some parts of the world. As we own a supermarket I happen to know the trend for fruit mince pies and Christmas puddings are on the downward spiral. In ONE PERFECT NIGHT the hero’s Auntie Kate cooks lots of yummy desserts and although I don’t name them, I’m sure one of them would be the Aussie favourite Pavlova.
So today I’d like to share with you my own version of Pavlova, which is less about fruit and more about chocolate. Cos let’s face it, what girl doesn’t like chocolate?
- 6 (59g) eggs, separated
- 1 1/4 cups (270g) caster sugar
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 300ml thickened cream
- 2 tbs icing sugar mixture, sifted
- One packet of Maltesers™ (or other fave chocolate) – cut in halves
- 50 grams of white chocolate melted
- A punnet of fresh strawberries, sliced.
- Preheat oven to 120°C (250°F.) Line an oven tray with foil. Brush with melted butter and dust with cornflour, shaking off excess. Mark a 24cm (9.5″) diameter circle on foil.
- Use an electric mixer to whisk egg whites in a clean dry bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition, until meringue is thick and glossy and sugar dissolved. Rub a little meringue between fingers. If still “gritty” with sugar, continue to whisk until sugar dissolves. Add cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and whisk until just combined. Spoon meringue onto the foil, using the marked circle as a guide. Smooth sides and top of Pavlova. Use a small spatula to forms little peaks around edge of Pavlova. Bake in oven for 11/2 hours or until Pavlova is dry to the touch. Turn off oven. Leave Pavlova in oven with the door ajar to cool completely. When completely cold, transfer to serving plate or store in an airtight container until required.
- Use an electric mixer to whisk the cream and icing sugar in a medium bowl until firm peaks form. Spoon cream onto the top of Pavlova. Decorate with Maltesers and strawberries, then drizzle white chocolate over the top.
- Refrigerate until serving. Can serve with ice-cream for extra luxury.
Book Blurb of ONE PERFECT NIGHT:
Peppa Grant’s fellow employees may call their new CEO Mr. McSexy, but she’s also heard that he’s aloof and distant. Cameron McCormac certainly seems cold toward Christmas when she meets him at the company’s annual party…but he’s also the sexiest man Peppa has ever seen. And when he offers to forgive the damage she accidentally caused to his expensive car in exchange for accompanying him to his family’s holiday get-together, she agrees.
Cameron needs a date to the family party to get his matchmaking relatives off his back. Their chemistry is instant and undeniable, leading to an incredible one-night stand. But Peppa wants love and family, while Cameron’s only interested in temporary pleasure. When their relationship takes an unexpectedly serious turn, will he run the other way—or will he give love a second chance?