Thursday, October 14, 2010

Grand Final fever – part deux

Only the delicious taste saves this from tragedy – gotta turn the oven down and use fresh raspberries!

Grand Final fever – part deux

So a few weeks back, it was the AFL Grand Final. If you’re not familiar with AFL, that’s Australian (rules) Football League. It’s kind of a cross between Gaelic football, football (soccer), basketball even, bit of rugby – it’s kind of a mash of things. But Grand Final day, traditionally held on the last Saturday of September, is a big deal. Over 100,000 people actually go to the match, held at the MCG, and millions more tune in from around the country and the globe. For AFL supporters, it’s a day where you get together with mates and snack on meat pies, hot dogs and sausage rolls – traditional footy fare.

This year was a bit different. The Grand Final ended in a draw – only the third time it’s done so in about a hundred years. In fact, it seems to happen roughly every 30 years – there were draws in 1948, 1977 and this year, 2010. The rules state that, unlike soccer where you would play extra time, the teams call it quits and come back the following week to slog it out and try again. Which is why, unusually, the Grand Final part deux was run – and won this time – on the first Saturday in October.

For the first Grand Final, Emperor D and I gathered a couple of our friends around for the standard footy snacks to watch the game. We threw it together kind of last minute, so I didn’t have time to put too much thought into what we’d serve. When it ended in a draw and we offered to host the game again the following week, I realised I needed to come up with something for dessert. I hit upon something I’d only made once before a few years ago – Nigella’s chocolate and raspberry pavlova.

Chocolate and raspberry pavlova - looks
kind of Christmas-y, doesn't it?
I’m not normally a fan of meringues and things like that. But chocolate and raspberry pavlova? You just know it’s going to taste delicious. Also, I liked the fact that the colours of the pavlova kind of matched those of the team I was going for, St Kilda, whose colours are black, white and red. I thought it would be a good omen. It wasn’t. Second time around, the Saints were thrashed to the tune of 56 points.

Because I’m not a fan of, and I don’t normally make, pavlova, this didn’t turn out as well as it could have. But it certainly wasn’t bad. I don’t think I beat the egg whites enough – or I knocked too much air out of it when I folded in the chocolate – so it ended up flat and collapsed in some places. Also, again, I think my oven is too hot; I turned it down 10 degrees more than I should have, took it out as soon as I could after the recommended cooking time had elapsed, and it still burnt a little in some places. And then fresh raspberries aren’t in season yet, so I used defrosted frozen ones, but I don’t recommend it. They’re a bit too tart in taste and also a bit soggy. Much better off with the perky fresh ones.

But still, it tasted wonderful. The meringue had a nice chocolatey taste and was crunchy on the outside and soft and gooey in the middle. Although fresh raspberries would’ve been better, the frozen ones served their purpose when it was all put together with the cream, meringue and chocolate shavings. I think this might be one I have to try again in summer; in fact, it would make a fantastic Christmas dessert. Might give that a go.

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