A decadent dessert which would be perfect for Valentine's Day or any occasion when you would like to impress. Regula shares how to make this artful pudding.
I've always had a 'love - hate' relationship with meringue. When I was a little girl, all my mates from school would stop at the bakery after school to buy a 'white foam' as we called them. They looked so delightful in the bakery's window, the beautiful white swirls luring me in to buy my own. So I did one day, I picked the most perfectly looking 'white foam' and the old baker's wife put it into a white paper bag for me. I remember standing outside and opening the bag, biting off a huge part of the merengue and expecting the world from it. My blue school uniform was covered in white dust like I so often saw from my fellow class mates and I was so very excited … then I realised - I hated it. Sure the texture was a lot of fun, I was covered in white sugar dust, that was fun as well. But the sickly sweet flavour put me firmly back on the ground after floating in the air with excitement.
Meringue wasn't for me.
I continued to stay well away from meringue until last December I was on a seaside trip with a few friends and I had a spoonful of my friend's pavlova. Of course I didn't pick it off the menu, childhood memories of the acerb sweet white foam made my skin crawl - I must add that I have never had a sweet tooth. But this pavlova was enjoyable and the sweetness rather pleasant with the topping of cream and fruit balancing it.
So there we are, I got home and since then I've made numerous batches of meringue, to top with fruit. My friends all had to eat my experiments and so my feelings for meringue finally changed.
To give the pavlova a less heavy feeling, I've used half Greek yoghurt and half cream. In my opinion, you can just use Greek yoghurt but then I'm not a creamy person. I don't use a lot of sugar in the meringue, you can use more for a more solid texture. The passion fruit gives extra texture to the pavlova and the persimmon a little sweet touch to compliment it. The dash of pepper at the end is the star of the dish, elevating it to an unexpected flavour sensation.
So simple, so good.
Passion fruit, persimmon and pepper pavlova
Makes 8 small pavlovas, or one large.
4 egg whites
220g fine caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar
Optional if you like a chewy, mallow centre
Cornflour 1 tsp
White wine vinegar 1tsp
250 ml double cream
250 ml greek yoghurt
7-8 passion fruit
1 persimmon, cut into small cubes
freshly ground pepper, ideally mixed pepper
Heat the oven to 140°C.
Line two baking trays with baking parchment and on that paper draw the outline of where your meringues will come. Make sure you leave enough space between each meringue as they will spread slightly as they bake.
Have a piping bag ready with or without a nozzle.
In a bowl, whisk the egg whites with a mixer until you get stiff peaks when you take the beater out.
At this point, add half of the sugar and the vanilla and continue to whisk until the mixture becomes very thick, then add the last of the sugar - and the cornflour and vinegar - and whisk until thick and shiny.
Spoon the meringue mixture into your piping bag, I like to cut off the tip of my piping bag once I have the mixture in the bag and I have twisted the end of the piping bag to seal it. If you are using a nozzle, just be careful the mixture doesn't drip out.
Start piping your meringue on your prepared baking parchment making a spiral about 3 layers high but leaving a crater the middle to hold the filling.
Bake in the oven for 30 min at 140°C then turn the heat down to 120°C and bake a further 30 minutes.
Leave the meringue to cool on the baking tray
Prepare the topping by whipping the cream and then adding the greek yoghurt and further whipping until you get a thick cream.
Scoop out the seeds and pulp of the passion fruit and keep in a bowl. Cut the persimmon into small cubes, discarding the peel.
Spoon the cream onto the meringue bases, dollop the passion fruit over the cream, add a few cubes of persimmon and finally just before serving, add the freshly ground pepper, just one turn of the pepper mill is enough to give a warming flavour. When using mixed pepper, the pepper will almost taste floral.