Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Passionate Dessert

I had the good fortune of being gifted with a whole bag of passionfruit. A friend has several plantings and has offered in the past, but I was just never sure what to do with them. I mean, we drink POG when in tropical climates, but other than that, we just don’t run across passionfruit very often. And to be honest, it’s a bit ugly – and has a hard shell that feels a bit hollow. (Very deceiving, given its tasty insides).

The first thing that came to mind is the classic pavlova. This meringue-based dessert originated in New Zealand (or possibly Australia) back in the 1920s as an homage to the ballerina, Anna Pavlova. True to its origins, it is covered in fruits readily available in that part of the world: passionfruit, kiwi and strawberry. It’s then topped with whipped cream…of course.

The nice thing about a pavlova is that it is easy to make and doesn’t require any fancy ingredients or pans. It takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and then it’s all about the baking time. To achieve that nice light crisp crust with a soft center, the pavlova bakes for 1.5 hours at 200 degrees and then you turn the oven off, letting it further dry out for another 1.5 hours.

I chose to make individual pavlovas, rather than one large dessert. Pavolvas don’t cut and serve particularly nicely, so doing smaller individual meringues achieves a nicer presentation.  They turned out beautifully and tasted as good as they looked. The crunch of the sugary meringue, the sweet/tart flavor of the passionfruit, with the barely sweetened whipped cream on top. Everyone agreed it was blog-worthy (and worth making again! And again!).

So keep your eyes out for passionfruit in the market and give this a try. It’s a refreshing and light summer dessert.

NOTE: You can top your pavlovas with other types of fruit. In fact, berries work particularly well and are in season right now.

Passionfruit Pavlova

4 large egg whites, at room temp
pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. If making a single pavlova, draw an 8-inch circle on a piece of parchment. For individual pavlovas, draw four 4-inch circles. Place on baking sheet and set aside.

Beat egg whites (preferably with whisk attachment) with the pinch of salt on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Begin adding sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating the egg whites. You’re looking for stiff, glossy peaks.

Sprinkle in the cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla extract. Whisk until all are incorporated.

For a single pavolva, use a spatula to mound the meringue onto the parchment. Spread it out evenly to edges. For individual meringues, a tablespoon works a bit better, or you can use a piping bag with a large round tip.

Place  your baking tray in the oven and reduce the temperature to 200 degrees. Cook for 1.5 hours or until meringue lifts off the parchment easily. Turn off the oven and leave for another 1.5 hours.

To serve: scoop the pulp out of the passionfruit and pour over top of the pavlova(s). Top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Serves: 4 

*I used 8 passionfruit for the 4 individual pavlovas. You can cut down on this if using multiple types of fruit

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