A Grand Christmas

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The sweet smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, brandy and molasses wafts through my mind reminding me of every Christmas past from my childhood. My mom, without fail, would bake her famous heavily-soaked brandy Christmas cakes on order for family or friends every year, these were the scents I recall wafting out of her kitchen, that would announce only one thing: CHRISTMAS IS HERE! As you can tell from the excitement, I loved and still do love this time of year, one thing I however did not care for much was funny enough, Christmas cake because of it’s richness in so many spices and of course ageing the cakes makes it that more pungent in taste and smell. One thing I learn as I am getting older, is a lot of the things I disliked as a child I strangely begin to have a newfound liking for now. I’m going to go ahead and say my palate has (thankfully so) evolved and for the better!

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Opening up a bottle of Groot Constantia’s Grand Constance, the scent fondly reminds me of so many great festive seasons past. So in the spirit of creating my own traditions, starting this year I have vowed to make my own pavlova wreath every year to celebrate the festive season or have it as a great showstopper on my table at Christmas lunch, sure to wow any guest! To keep it light and seasonal, I made a Pavlova topped with boozy peaches and cranberries, roasted in a mixture of maple syrup, vanilla extract and of course Grande Constance. The marshmallow texture and taste of the Pavlova pairs so incredibly well because of the hints of marshmallow on the palate and nose of this Grand Dame.

Being an avid fan of Groot Constantia, they approached me to ask if I would like to be a part of their Grand Constance Festive Table campaign, naturally I jumped at the chance and said yes! I had so much fun styling my bespoke festive table and pairing the Grand Constance with something as equally delicious and sweet.

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Top wine tip: pair sweet wines with something sweet. This ensures both the food and wine complement each other.

There’s only one holy grail recipe I always revert to when making pavlova, this is without doubt the queen of pavlovas, Donna Hay. Her recipe I find works best and is the most consistent in terms of outcome. The other pairing that I find works so well with Grand Constance are mince pies. Again, equally sweet and spicy. Serve with a scoop or two of your favourite vanilla ice cream, and you have an entire dessert! Warm the mince pies for best results. Yes, there are some of us that enjoy them cold (I won’t mention any names. *gives the fiancé the stink eye*).

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The colour of the iconic Grande Constance reminds me of amber Christmas trifles with dollops of the famed caramel spread and warm twinkly lights that set the tone for festivities galore. To get well into the spirit of the festive season I naturally paired this delicious natural sweet wine with a dessert and even used some of it in the making of it.

Top Entertaining Tip: Pairing idea – use the boozy roasted peaches along with the sticky sweet syrup on a cheeseboard to wow guests this festive season. The sweet, tart flavours will complement pungent Stilton easily or Brie or better yet bake together with a wheel of Camembert.

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Pavlova Wreath with Grand Constance Roasted Peaches

Ingredients:

  • Eggwhite of 6 eggs
  • 330g caster sugar
  • 11/2 teaspoons of white vinegar
  • 4 dessert or cling peaches, chopped into wedges
  • 1/4 cup of dried cranberries
  • 50ml of Grand Constance
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • Double cream thick yoghurt to serve or whipped cream if you wish.
  • 100g chopped pistachios
  • light dusting of cinnamon and nutmeg

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C . Place the eggwhite in a bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks begin to form. Gradually add the caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking for 30 seconds before adding more. Once all the sugar has been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and whisk for a further 6 minutes or until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
  2. Add the vinegar and whisk for a further 2 minutes or until the mixture is glossy and combined. I used my silat and freehanded this part, but if you like a little more neat looking wreath, you may take a pencil and draw intertwining circles resembling a wreath, very important to turn the baking paper over and then spoon the meringue accordingly into the circles (it’s okay of a little is not coaxed perfectly in the shape of the wreath, a bit of imperfection is what makes it stand out!) onto the baking tray lined with the non-stick baking paper. This recipe makes 2 wreaths which you can stack and dollop yoghurt in-between to keep in place and of course to make It homogenous.
  3. Place in the oven, reduce the temperature to 120°C and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and allow the meringue to cool, with the door closed, for 1 hour do this with both wreaths.  Serves 6. (or in my case 2!)
  4. Set both Pavlova wreaths aside until assembly. Heat the oven up to 180°C and in a roasting dish, add the chopped peaches and cranberries, drizzle with the Grand Constance, maple syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg. Roast for 15 minutes until soft, but not completely macerated. Set aside to cool.
  5. To assemble, place your first wreath (in my case the wonkiest looking one) at the bottom, then dollop with double cream yoghurt taking a teaspoon take some of the liquid in the roasting dish and drizzle a little over the yoghurt. Place the show stopping perfect wreath on top, dollop with more yoghurt however much you would like, use your discretion, place the peach wedges on top as well as dotting the cranberries around, drizzle again with the Grand Constance infused liquid, then finish off with the chopped pistachios and seasonal pansies if you wish. I tend to go a little overboard, so of course I added edible glitter, gold stars and shimmer for good measure too! Because what’s Christmas without a little sparkle!

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From my home to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Dominique x

**Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.The bottle of Grand Constance was supplied to me by Groot Constantia. All views and opinions are my own**

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