I must confess I have been feeling very lazy since finishing work last week. Like I want to be on holiday – from cooking as well as blogging (and from cleaning the house and doing laundry but that’s not news). I have also felt a tad uninspired too – unless the inspiration is cocktail-related because that is on full force at the moment. So I have been reading books (remember books? I haven’t had a chance to read anything that doesn’t contain recipes for yonks) and binge watching TV (Flesh and Bone has me torn – too dark, but the ballet sequences are gorgeous) and taking it easy. Even my online grocery order was forgotten – which meant that we got a turkey, some potatoes and whole bunch of booze since I neglected to amend it in time.
But yesterday I finally got up determined to make a proper list of the food I will be serving over the holidays and in doing so I got more and more excited about cooking… This resulted in me making a pavlova base late last night and this rather glorious dessert today. The pavlova is flavoured with rosewater, orange and lemon zest and topped with ricotta whipped cream, syrup-soaked figs, pomegranate seeds and toasted almonds. It looks rather spectacular but doesn’t actually require much effort. What it does require is a little planning since the base needs to bake for rather a long time and cool completely before adding any toppings. I advise making the base and the syrup-soaked figs in advance then adding all the toppings just before you are ready to serve.
- Make the syrup-soaked figs. Put all the ingredients apart from the figs in a small pot. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes until the syrup thickens slightly. Skim any foam that forms on top.
- Add the figs and then bring to the boil again. Reduce the heat and cook for a couple of minutes until they have softened slightly.
- Transfer the figs to a container and keep chilled until needed. Strain the syrup and keep chilled. You will have more syrup than you need but it is gorgeous used in other desserts or even in cocktails in place of simple syrup.
- Make the pavlova. Preheat the oven to 150C (300F). Trace a large rectangle on a piece of baking paper then place on a heavy baking tray, pencil side down.
- Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix together until a little frothy. Mix the sugar and zest together in a bowl.
- Whisk on full speed until you have soft peaks and then continue whisking while gradually adding the sugar a spoonful at a time. Continue whisking until all the sugar is added and then sprinkle in the rosewater. Whisk away until the meringue is stiff and glossy and the sugar is completely dissolved. Sift the cornflour over the bowl and fold in.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 120C (250F). Spread the meringue inside the marked rectangle on the tray and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar and let the meringue cool completely for a few hours or, preferably, overnight.
- Place the double cream and icing sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Whisk until you have soft peaks, add the ricotta and rosewater and continue whisking until you have firm peaks.
- Toss a large handful of flaked almonds in a frying pan and dry fry over medium heat until slightly toasted. Set aside to cool.
- Spread the whipped cream over your pavlova base and then add the figs. Scatter with with the pomegranate seeds and toasted almonds. Spoon a little over the reserved syrup over the pavlova, dust with a little icing sugar and serve.
Notes: I made the pavlova without the cornflour but it was little soft-set so I edited the recipe to add it. Please take care when transferring the pavlova base from the oven tray to a suitable platter as it is rather delicate and prone to breaking. I used a cake lifter to aid the process,
Here’s some more pavlova and meringue based dessert inspiration
• Chocolate and strawberry pavlova from Elisabeth’s Kitchen Diary.
• Meringue and mascarpone cake from Vikalinka.
• Layered merigue cake from Baking Queen.
• Rhubarb and ginger pavlova from Foodie Quine.
• Pavlotart from Kavey Eats.
• Individual Christmas pavlovas from Casa Costello.
• Tropical Fruit pavlova from Fraglais Kitchen.
• Chocolate meringue with raspberry and strawberry cream from Tin and Thyme.