I suspect when most Americans are asked what comes to mind when you think of Australia, they would answer kangaroos, koalas, Bondi Beach, and the Great Barrier Reef. Perhaps Cate Blanchett or Nicole Kidman or Russell Crowe or the Hemsworth brothers. Me? Thanks to a handful of dear Australian friends who are culinary wonders, I think of extraordinary coffee (flat white, please), gorgeous wines, tim tams, and the sort of brilliant food the What Katie Ate cookbooks and Donna Hay made famous in the U.S… particularly pavlova.
Ah, pavlova. I’ve never met a pav I haven’t loved. How could you possibly go wrong with a wonder of sweet crunchy meringue, whipped cream and fresh fruit. It’s dead easy to make (especially if you make the meringues in advance), and unfailingly impressive. Often pavs are two or three tiers of meringues layered with whipped cream and fruit… but though they look amazing on the table, I can’t work out how on earth to cut them and plate them elegantly. I may be missing something, but I end up presenting a pile of meringue and whipped cream and berries that looks like Eton Mess on a plate. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a delicious pile of yumminess, but nonetheless, I thought there must be a better way…
We hosted a few friends for dinner last night, so I decided to try my hand at individual pavs. I started with little 5-inch rounds of brown-sugar-infused meringues, layered whipped cream mixed with a bit of sour cream next, then topped it with blackberries bathed in lime juice and a bit of sugar. Oh my word. So simple, yet absolutely perfect…. to include a lovely presentation.
My dear Australian friend Fiona came over for breakfast this morning, and as she admired my leftover meringues, filled me on on her go-to pavlova made with spiced figs. As soon as figs are in season around here, I’ll be begging for the recipe, and will share it here… I suspect Fiona won’t mind!
A few things I’m crushing on at the moment:
Any chance I’ve inspired you to explore Australian cuisine? Delicious and Donna Hay magazines feature stunning photography and gorgeous food. Fiona usually throws one of each in her carry-on for me when she comes back from Down Under. Because she’s awesome.
Seems I have quite a thing for blackberries: Blackberry Scones, Blackberry Mojitos, and Lemon Buttermilk Blackberry Crumble No-Churn Ice Cream. Seems it was a good idea to plant those blackberry bushes in the back garden. Come to think of it, I put in a little fig tree too, which will be perfect for that other pavlova. Can’t wait for things to start sprouting… I planted my sugar-snap peas, radishes, and scallions this afternoon. So fun!
Thanks for stopping by – Have a great week, all!
Individual Brown Sugar Blackberry Pavlovas
Adapted from an Epicurious recipe
For the meringues:
- ¾ cup superfine granulated sugar
- ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- ¾ cup egg whites (from 5 to 6 large eggs) at room temperature 30 minutes
For the berries:
- 3 cups blackberries
- ¼ cup superfine sugar
- the peel from one lime
- the juice of one lime
For the cream:
- 1½ cups chilled heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- ½ cup chilled sour cream or mascarpone cheese
Make the meringues:
- Preheat oven to 275°F.
- Place parchment paper on two cookie sheets. Using a bowl (or the top of a tupperware container, as I did), trace 6 circles (roughly five inches wide) with a pencil onto the parchment. Set aside.
- Pulse superfine sugar, brown sugar, cream of tartar and cornstarch in a food processor until well combined.
- Stir together vanilla and vinegar in a small bowl.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Increase speed to medium-high and add sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time. After all sugar has been added, beat 1 minute more. Add vinegar mixture, then beat at high speed until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes. Spoon meringue onto the circles and smooth tops.
- Bake until meringues have a crisp crust and feel dry to the touch, about 1 hour (insides will still be marshmallow-like).
- Turn oven off. Cool meringues in oven 1 hour. (Meringues may sink slightly and crack while cooling.)
- Carefully peel the meringues off the parchment (meringues will be fragile and the crust may crack further).
While the meringues are baking, macerate the fruit:
- Toss the blackberries with sugar, lime peel and lime juice and let stand at room temperature until ready to use (up to 1 hour).
Make the cream:
- Beat heavy cream with the sugar and sour cream or mascarpone cheese using an electric mixer until it just holds soft peaks.
Assemble the dessert:
- Put each meringue on a plate, spoon a generous portion of whipped cream on top of it, then top with berries and a bit of juice.