This Pavlova is a showstopper of a dessert and worth every bit of effort. I poached the pears in red Muscadel – the same Orange River Cellars bottle I used to make my 10 minute peach jam and it cooked down for an hour with the pears to a reduced spicy syrup. Poured over the pears and cream finished this dessert off too deliciously.
My first try out with this Pavlova was using a fine unrefined brown sugar from Mauritius – Muscavado in flavour, and it was utterly delicious. The golden caramel colour and flavour were out of this world but the Pavlova turned out a little too flat. I made a big one – double these quantities, so perhaps that is why. It could also be that the molasses in the sugar added too much moister to the meringue. I’m not too sure why. It was important that I got a high enough and good-looking enough meringue to photograph. Obviously. My second attempt – and for this recipe, I used golden castor sugar. Also unrefined and also from Mauritius, its texture was looser and that of normal castor sugar. I also piled the meringue quite high as it expands during baking which helped deliver a good result.
So this turned out exactly how I love Pavlova. A crispy layer on the outside and firm but soft layer on the inside. Firm enough that a slice cut out keeps its shape. I placed the poached pairs on top whole for a more dramatic visual effect – I am a food stylist after all, but they did weigh down on the Pavlova. It doesn’t bother me that cracks appear in a Pavlova, I have never found a way around it. Generous dollops of whipped cream cover that all up.
* Cooks Notes ~ Make sure the mixing bowl and whisk is thoroughly clean. You can wipe the inside with lemon juice and paper towel if you are unsure. I always separate my eggs in a separate bowl – one at a time, before adding to the larger mixing bowl. This way if you get any egg yolk into the whites you wont need to discard them all. I love to make Chantilly cream so I add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and two teaspoons of icing sugar to the whipped cream. Be careful not to over whip the cream, it looks best when in soft peaks. A scattering of toasted almond slices would also be a stunning addition to this Pavlova.
Recipe – serves 6
- 4 free-range egg whites
- 220gm golden castor sugar
- 3tsp corn flour
- 1tsp white vinegar
- 250ml cream, whipped (add vanilla extract and icing sugar as an option)
Spicy poached pears
- 6 – 8 small pears, peeled
- 1 bottle red muscadel
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 cinnamon quills
- 4 star anise pods
Preheat the oven to 150C.
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Very slowly add the golden castor sugar and then continue to whisk until the mixture is glossy and the sugar in incorporated. I do this for around 6 – 8 additional minutes.
Spread the meringue in to a circle about 18cm in diameter on a baking tray lined with baking paper, and place in the oven. immediately turn the temperature down to 120C and bake for an hour.
Turn off the oven and allow the Pavlova to cool (in the oven) – this can be done over night.
While the Pavlova is baking make the pears, or make both in advance and assemble when you are ready to serve.
In a large enough bowl add the red muscadel, sugar, water, and spices and bring it to a simmer. Add the pears and cook over a low heat for an hour and until the pears are tender (they will still be fairly firm but cooked through). Remove the pears with a slotted spoon and set aside. Continue to cook down the liquid to a light syrup. You should be left with about 2 cups / 500ml. allow this to cool and serve on the side with the finished Pavlova.
When you are ready to serve, whip the cream and dollop this over the surface. Add the pears, drizzle over the syrup.
If you enjoy my dessert recipes – my new cookbook ‘Sweet’ is available in digital format too. You can purchase and download it here and on kindle here. Otherwise its on sale in all good book shops in South Africa.