I knew this was coming… the bake is on the front cover of “Sweet”, after all! Once again, something that I’ve never tried to make myself – a pavlova. I’ve eaten pavlova in the past for my sister Anna’s birthday, who enjoys anything that resembles meringue. As a kid, my family would often eat little meringue nests with fresh local strawberries and ice cream in the summer.
In the recipe description, this is called a “stunning dessert for a special occasion”, that should be made when feeding people you adore, and when you have sufficient time. Taking a glance at the steps, I discovered that the meringue base would take 3 hours to bake, and another two hours to set. That is a lot of time! Knowing that my sister would love this one, I invited her over for a full evening of baking, drinking, and a bit of singing and dancing (to many Disney classics). I proudly know the lyrics to almost anything Disney, and my favourite shows are The Little Mermaid and The Lion King. These movies basically defined my childhood.
With the Tarzan soundtrack blaring, I roasted the pistachios (choosing the cover photo nut instead of the almond alternative), and brought a bit of water to a boil. The only other time I had made meringue was for a lemon meringue pie years ago. I combined the sugar and egg whites and then placed the bowl over the boiling water, beating the mixture until the sugar dissolved. The recipe called for a bit of brown sugar for a rich chewiness. After this, I moved the mixture to my mixer and was excited to use my beater fixture. The meringue became glossy and thick quickly, and after adding the cinnamon, I transferred the cloud of deliciousness onto my greased stone. I use my stone for everything that calls for a flat pan.
As we started the waiting game, I cleaned up a bit, sang Mulan’s “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” as a riveting duet with Anna, and made the pistachio praline. I went on a hunt earlier in the day for mascarpone cheese in my neighbourhood, which luckily has an Italian market with a dangerous selection of quality ingredients and fresh pasta. As I was checking on the meringue, I caught my sister taking a taste of the whipped praline cream from the bowl. She liked it, so that was promising.
The meringue had a golden shine to it after a couple of hours, and we were becoming a bit impatient. Instead of properly letting it set, I took it out of the oven too quickly and it sadly cracked down the middle. I swear it was beautiful before this happened. We poured melted dark chocolate over the meringue, followed by a generous layer of the cream, sliced fig (I could only find the dry variety), more pistachio, and a drizzle of honey.
Before we could taste our creation, we set up the pavlova so that Anna could film me cutting the first slice. Success! It turns out that even with the rushed process, this pavlova worked out. The chewy cinnamon meringue cloud, praline cream, hint of chocolate, and toppings were perfectly delectable together, and reminded Anna of Christmas. I also appreciate recipes that are naturally gluten-free, for friends and family with restrictions. I’ll definitely have to make this over the holidays!