I once committed a pàtisserie faux pas, in other words a mistake but it sounds better in French. I made some meringue nests and posted them as pavlovas!!! Oh dear. Months later I realised the error of my ways: pavlovas look like meringues and also involve egg whites and sugar but unlike meringues they’re soft and marshmallowy inside due to a little added cornflour and vinegar and a long slow bake. Mine is a result of various kitchen experiments, with a yummy sugar-free passion fruit mousse of greek-style yoghurt laced with orange liqueur or juice. Tada! Pomegranate and passion fruit yoghurt pavlova. Glistening with red jewel-like pomegranate seeds with optional physalis fruit for a decorative touch. Finally, drizzle with honey. Light, tangy and delicious! And like a lot of my stuff, kind of half-healthy! 🙂
You can adapt this recipe so don’t worry if you can’t find physalis fruit, just leave it out – it’s decoration you could replace with red berries or some other fruit. More whipped cream instead of yoghurt will make your filling fluffier but my version tastes very fresh as it is. You could also add grated orange zest or a little orange juice instead of orange liqueur, and vegetarians can try agar agar instead of gelatine. Pavlova recipes vary in their quantities, baking times or methods so you should experiment to see what works for you and be flexible because temperatures and timings depend on your oven and pavlova.
The great news is when you work out the rules to follow, pavlovas are fast and easy to make! Yay! And your pavlova will be delicious whether it’s slightly overcooked chewy meringue, a bit soft or perfect. I can confirm this from the various prototypes I made! My New Zealand friend told me that back home they like their pavlovas to stay completely white but she prefers hers lightly browned outside. So Keep Calm and Bake a Pavlova while singing ‘I baked it my way!’ 🙂
The quantities are for a 23-25cm diametre circle. You could make 2 small layers (with the top layer slightly smaller than the other) as in my prototype number one.
Make the passion fruit mousse the previous day – it’s not a thick mousse but it does set a little in the fridge overnight. You can also make your pavlova the previous day. Passion fruit mousse: 10 mins to make. Pavlova: 15-20 minutes to make, 1 hour 10 mins or so to bake, 2 or 3 hours in the oven then 1 hour filled in the fridge before eating (start making at least 5 or 6 hours before, if serving on the same day)
Passion fruit mousse
- 1 and a half sheets of gelatine (you could try 2 for a stronger set)
- 360g/1 and a quarter cups greek-style yoghurt
- 2 to 4 tablespoons juice of passionfruit, sieved to remove the seeds (to taste) – about 3 to 5 fruit
- 4 teaspoons grand marnier orange liqueur, to taste (or Cointreau/orange juice)
- 2 tsp honey, to taste
- 100g/half a cup whipping cream (35%) or double cream, or more to make the mousse thicker
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F (static oven) or 160°C/320°F (fan/convection oven) then when you put in the pavlova turn it down immediately to 150°C/300°F (static oven) or 130°C/265°F (fan/convection).
- Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Draw your circle round an appropriately-sized plate or cake tin then turn the paper upside-down so the ink or pencil is facing down and doesn’t leave a mark on the pavlova.
- 4 free-range medium-large egg whites (157-160g) at room temperature
- 250g golden or white caster sugar (you can vary the quantity: 230g will give you a softer meringue and 260-275g will give you more cracking on the outside)
- 2 teaspoons cornflour/cornstarch
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- Vanilla seeds scraped from one pod or a quarter teaspoon vanilla extract
For a 16-18cm diametre pavlova, halve the quantities: 2 egg whites (80g), 125g golden caster sugar, 1 teaspoon cornflour/cornstarch, half teaspoon white vinegar, vanilla seeds scraped from half a pod or an eighth of a teaspoon vanilla extract.
- Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks that hold and don’t fall out of the upside-down bowl.
- Whisk in the sugar and a pinch of salt gradually, whisking well around ten minutes or more if by hand. The meringue should hold well and not fall out of the bowl if held upside down. It shouldn’t slide down your upright whisk. Keep whisking till it’s stiff enough.
- Whisk in the vanilla extract or seeds for a few minutes.
- Gently fold in the vinegar with a rubber spatula.
- Sieve in the cornflour then fold in gently till combined. If it looks like there are lumps whisk lightly for just 10 seconds or so.
- Use a tablespoon to make a nest with your meringue on the baking paper on your tray. You can make a slight dip in the middle where the mousse will go.
- Place in the lower-middle part of the oven and bake 1 to 1 and a quarter hours. It’s fine if it’s slightly browned and cracks a bit on the outside.
- Then leave to cool completely for at least 2 or 3 hours in the oven, sticking the handle of a wooden spoon in the door to keep it slightly ajar (open).
- You can store your pavlova for use the next day in a metal tin or wrapped well in tin foil, at room temperature.
- half to three-quarters cup of pomegranate seeds (or seeds from 1 pomegranate), to taste
- 6 or more physalis fruit, optional or red berries
- honey or maple syrup, optional
Refresh your mousse by whisking it briefly then spread in the middle of your pavlova. Sprinkle on pomegranate seeds. Drizzle with honey if you like (the extra sweetness isn’t really necessary – the prototype I made without honey was delicious). Finally decorate with the physalis fruit or berries.
Keep your pavlova one hour in the fridge before serving, then after that it isn’t supposed to keep well. Though I love it (as do my various cake testers) after a few hours, or even a couple of days later when it’s still delicious but softer. It’s a lovely dessert, perfect for a bright summer’s day or an elegant meal.
Pavlova for Christmas
How to make perfect pavlova and meringues is an article which gives some useful background, information and tips. They confirm ‘Christmas and pavlova are an essential combination’ and I love their description: ‘On a hot Christmas Day … you just cannot ignore the luxurious pavlova, with its sweet crunchy meringue crust, marshmallow like centre, topped with clouds of cream, berries and passionfruit.’ Clearly they’re in New Zealand and not shivering here in cold Europe on December 25th. Still, it could make a lovely change from Christmas pudding.
An extremely brief history
This dessert’s named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926. Presumably it’s light and airy like the dancer, with the meringue perhaps reminding you of her floating white tutu.
Sorry that was such a short history but I have to prepare stuff for my next Cordon Bleu class here in Paris. We’re making the dreaded multi-layered Opera cake on Monday! If you’re interested you can see the cakes we’re learning to make on my liliscakesinbcn Instagram account and I’ll also share them with you in my next weekly update. For now I’ll just say life in a ‘professional’ kitchen under the beadie eye of a chef can be stressful. More than a baking course it’s also strict training to ensure you could work as a pastry chef in an establishment. If you’ve seen Gordon Ramsey in action on TV well, yes … it’s sometimes like that and we do get shouted at. But the chefs are often sweet to us and we’re happy to be learning so much – I’ll tell you more about it next time. :)Of course I sometimes miss my more relaxed pavlova days, baking in sunny Barcelona! Here’s a little slice of Pomegranate and passion fruit pavlova for you to try that I’m also sharing with Perfecting Patisserie@bakingqueen74 and Tasty Tuesdays@HonestMum. I know there’s sugar but the filling’s a bit healthier and it’s delicious, light as a ballerina. So are you tempted?! 🙂
Wishing you a calm and happy week ahead sweet reader! May you always or almost always have peace in your heart and something delicious in your stomach. Happy baking and eating! 🙂 x