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Recipe: Pavlovas with Passion Fruit Sauce


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By Life Pastry - September 28, 2020

 




Passion Fruit and

Raspberry Pavlovas

Makes 8 individual pavlovas


Pavlovas should be on every restaurant dessert menu: They are elegant, easy to put together, and ridiculously delicious. What’s not to love about ethereal, crunchy meringue and soft cream and fruit? The dessert was created in New Zealand in honor of the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who was visiting the country during a world tour. I make these for all occasions and holidays and sometimes just because. The passion fruit curd is so good you’ll want to put it on everything. I love the combination of the tropical passion fruit with tart-sweet raspberries, but feel free to use your favorite fruit.


6 large egg whites (about ¾ cup/180 grams), at room temperature

1¼ cups/250 grams superfine sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted after measuring

⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup/240 grams heavy cream

2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar

Passion Fruit Curd for Pavlovas

2 pints/500 grams fresh raspberries

 

Preheat the oven to 175°F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed for about 1 minute. The whites will start to froth and turn into bubbles and eventually the yellowy viscous part will disappear. Keep whipping until you can see the wires of the whisk leaving a slight trail in the whites, 2 to 3 minutes.

With the mixer still on medium, slowly add the superfine sugar in six to eight increments, whipping for about 20 seconds after each addition. (It should take about 3 minutes to add all the sugar.) When all the sugar has been incorporated into the egg whites, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute longer. The meringue should be fluffy and look a bit like shaving cream. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, fold in the cornstarch, salt, and vanilla. The meringue batter will be gloppy and sticky-looking.

Using a ½-cup ice cream scoop or ½-cup dry measuring cup, scoop 8 mounds of meringue onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 3 inches apart. Use a large spoon to press a well into the center of each meringue mound, moving the spoon around in a circular motion to make a shallow depression in the meringue.

Bake for 3 hours, rotating the baking sheet a few times. Turn off the oven and let the meringues sit in the oven overnight.

The next day, remove the meringues from the oven and carefully peel them off the parchment. (At this point the meringues can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.)

When you’re ready to serve, whip the cream and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl with a whisk until it is soft and billowing. Do not overwhip or the cream will get grainy. It should look similar to the meringue when it was fully whipped.

Place each meringue on an individual serving plate or all together on a large serving platter. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the whipped cream into the center of each meringue. Make a depression in the cream, then spoon about 2 heaping tablespoons of the passion fruit curd on top of the cream. Crush some of the raspberries and keep some whole and scatter both evenly on top of the curd.

Passion fruit pavlovas should be served within 1 hour or so of assembling. (Once filled, the meringues get really soft after a few hours.)

 


Passion Fruit Curd for Pavlovas

Makes 1¼ cups

½ cup/1 stick/115 grams unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

¼ cup/50 grams passion fruit puree (either purchase or make by pureeing the inside of about 5 passion fruits with a few tablespoons water and straining the resulting mixture through a fine-mesh sieve)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about ½ large lemon)

½ cup/100 grams sugar

3 large egg yolks (about 60 grams), at room temperature

⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

 

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter, passion fruit puree, and lemon juice to just under a boil over medium-high heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks. Remove the passion fruit mixture from the heat and gradually whisk a few tablespoons of it into the egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs. Continue whisking the hot liquid into the egg yolk mixture a few tablespoons at a time until it is all incorporated.

Return the curd to the saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon and making sure to scrape the bottom of the saucepan frequently to prevent the egg yolks from scrambling, until the curd thickens and coats the spoon with a thick enough layer that you can draw your finger through it and it holds a line, 5 to 8 minutes.

Remove the curd from the heat and strain it through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl or pitcher. Whisk in the salt. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly against the surface of the curd (to prevent a skin from forming), and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using.

Curd can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.



Marvelous Vanilla Caramel

Merveilleux




Makes 8 merveilleux


One of the many things I love about New York City is that you can open up a restaurant selling one single menu item and there will be an audience for it. I’ve stumbled upon a rice pudding take-out shop, a mac-and-cheese restaurant, a bakery that sells chocolate cake and chocolate cake only. But only in New York can you open up a store that sells something that no one’s even heard of and thrive. Christopher and I walked into Aux Merveilleux de Fred because it looked pretty and French and there were pastries in the window. When we got inside we realized that the pastries in the window were the only pastries in the shop: big and small merveilleux. We had no idea what these were, so the counter staff kindly explained how mounds of airy meringue are sandwiched with flavored whipped creams and rolled around in various toppings to make an ethereal treat. Merveilleux means “marvelous” in French, and showcasing this classic old-fashioned confection was the raison d’être of this jewelbox patisserie. We got one of each of five different flavors and sat outside on a park bench and inhaled them one by one. They were creamy and light, a little chewy where the meringue met the filling, and completely irresistible. They were perfectly named. Making these takes some planning ahead as you need to make the meringues at least a day in advance.


Vanilla Caramel Cream

8 large egg whites (about 1 cup/240 grams egg whites), at room temperature

1 cup/200 grams superfine sugar

1 cup/120 grams confectioners’ sugar

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

 

Make the caramel sauce for the caramel cream and set it aside. But don’t whip and finish the cream yet.

Preheat the oven to 175°F and place racks in the center and bottom third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes. The whites will start to froth and turn into bubbles and eventually the yellowy viscous part of the whites will disappear. Keep whipping until you can see the wires of the whisk leaving a slight trail in the whites. Test for soft peak stage by stopping the mixer, removing the whisk from the whites, and lifting it up; the whites should peak and then droop.

With the mixer on medium, add the superfine sugar in three increments, whipping for 1 minute between additions. The mixture will start to get glossy and stiff. Meanwhile, sift the confectioners’ sugar and salt together. Once you’ve beaten all of the superfine sugar into the egg whites, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whip for about 30 seconds more. It will look like thick shaving cream. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the confectioners’ sugar and salt.

Using a ¼-cup measuring cup or a ¼-cup ice cream scoop, scoop 24 round mounds of meringue onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for about 4 hours, rotating the baking sheets and switching their positions a few times, until the meringues are firm to the touch and you can remove them easily from the parchment without them falling apart. (If it’s particularly humid outside, you may need to bake them for up to 8 hours before they are firm enough.)

Turn off the oven but leave the meringues in the oven for at least 6 or up to 12 hours, until they are fully crispy inside. They should still be white or just have a tiny bit of color on them. If any sugar has pooled out of the meringues, snap it off when it cools.

Remove the 8 ugliest meringues from the baking sheets (they are all beautiful, but some are less pretty than others) and place them in a plastic or paper bag. Crush these meringues with your hands until you have a bag of finely crushed crumbs. Be careful not to overcrush them into powder—you want crumbs that are about the size of rice grains. Pour these into a medium bowl and set it aside.

Finish making the caramel cream.

Carefully remove the remaining 16 meringues from the baking sheets and pair them up so that like sizes are together. To assemble each merveilleux, scoop a rounded tablespoon of the whipped caramel cream onto the flat side of a meringue. Sandwich it with another meringue, flat side down, and use another 5 to 6 tablespoons of the caramel cream to cover the top and fill in the sides. Don’t worry about it looking pretty—you just want to cover the entire meringue sandwich with cream. Place the whole thing in the bowl of crumbs and roll it around, using your hands or two spoons, until covered. Set it aside on a plate and repeat with the remaining meringues, cream, and crumbs until all the merveilleux have been assembled. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours before serving so all the flavors can meld and the merveilleux can firm up a bit.

Merveilleux should be eaten the same day they are made. (Though I’ll admit to having held them overnight and still enjoying them the next day; they are just a little squishier and less crunchy. Still amazing.)

 


Vanilla Caramel Cream

Makes about 4 cups

½ cup/100 grams sugar

2 cups/480 grams heavy cream

Seeds scraped from ½ vanilla bean

⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

 

Combine the sugar with about ¼ cup/60 grams water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Continue boiling until the syrup starts to change color, about 2 minutes. (There is so little sugar, the whole process happens quickly once the sugar starts to color, so be aware.) Swirl the pan to help the syrup color evenly, and keep swirling gently until the caramel is deep golden brown.

Turn the heat down to low and, with a long-handled whisk, slowly and carefully whisk in 1 cup/240 grams of the cream and the vanilla seeds. Be careful, as the caramel will sputter and spit—stand away from the pot until it settles. Whisk until the cream is completely incorporated into the caramel and you have no more little bits of hardened sugar. Whisk in the salt.

Remove the caramel sauce from the heat, carefully transfer it to a heatproof container, and store in the fridge for at least 8 hours (ideally overnight) or up to 3 days so it chills enough to blend into the remaining cream and be whip-able.

When you’re ready to use the caramel cream, whip the remaining 1 cup/240 grams cream in a large bowl by hand or with a handheld electric mixer, or in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, until the cream is fluffy and holds a stiff peak. Whip in the caramel sauce until well incorporated. Use immediately.

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