Recipe, photography and styling by Tanya Zouev.
One of the greatest things in life is sharing food. For example I love sharing plates, communal tables and banquet style meals. But sometimes I like to have my own. Yes a grand pavlova gracing the dessert table is divine, but so is having a smaller one I can call all mine. In fact the only thing in my world which beats pavlova, is my own individual pavlova.
So continuing along with my obsession of meringues and pavlova, here is another recipe I have been testing and given the thumbs up. What could be simpler and more sublime a dessert than egg whites whisked with sugar into little dreamy fluffy peaks then baked, crunchy on the outside and soft and pillowy in the middle? Team these beauties up with cream and fruit and it’s an instant swoon.
Now when I say individual pavlova, I don’t mean the snow-white overly dry meringue nests in a cardboard box you buy at the supermarket. I’m talkin’ home made, messy, imperfect mounds you plop out onto a baking sheet and form with your fingers and the back of a spoon. I love watching these go into a hot oven and go all puffy and gorgeous with the promise of the delightful crunchy sweetness to come. The aim here with these particular individual pavlovas is not to get a snowy white meringue, but one that is caramelized and has turned a very very light brown.
I thought it might be prudent to mention that I’ve made these with both standard granulated sugar and caster sugar and the results from each are a little different. The granulated sugar version (pictured) has a slightly crispier outer shell which is quite fragile and tends to collapse under the weight of the cream and fruit. The texture is also drier and a little grittier. The caster sugar version is finer and firmer and holds its shape better and I also found it to be significantly more marshmallowy in the centre. I personally prefer the former but in the end it’s up to you.*
Every good meringue recipe needs a delicious topping to go with it and preferably one containing fruit. The sauce in this recipe is so easy it’s almost embarrassing and it teams so well with the lightly spiced cream and the meringues that I challenge you to stop at just one. I love to serve this sort of thing at a dinner party or BBQ where guests can dress up their own desserts. Just pile up a mound of meringues on a platter with the cream, sauce and fruit in beautiful bowls on the side and let everyone go for it. It’s always a hit.
Makes 10-12 meringues. Prep time 20 minutes, cooking time 60 mins.
8 egg whites
2 cups white granulated sugar OR caster sugar (please see notes above)*
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
The cream topping
2 cups thickened cream
1 tablespoon cardamom powder
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
resh blueberries and raspberries to decorate
1. Preheat oven to 220˚C (approx 420˚F) and line two large baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.
2. Beat your egg whites with a mixer until they start to form peaks and add half your sugar one tablespoon at a time making sure it is well incorporated into the egg white. Add the cream of tartar, mix to combine then continue adding the remainder of the sugar until the egg whites are all stiff and glossy.
3. Place spoonfuls of the raw meringue in large dollops on the baking paper using a metal spoon. Place in the hot oven for 2 minutes, the meringues will go a light brown then turn the oven down to 120˚C (approx 240˚F) and bake for one hour. Turn off the oven and leave meringues inside until oven is cold.
4. Pour the thickened cream into a medium size mixing bowl and add the vanilla and cardamom. Whip until stiff peaks form.
The Cointreau raspberry sauce
Makes about a cup. Prep time 5 minutes, cooking time 25 minutes.
2 cups raspberries (I use frozen)
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons Cointreau
1. Place the raspberries into a small heavy base pan with the sugar and Cointreau over medium heat and put the lid on. Cook for a few minutes, then take lid off stirring and breaking up the fruit with a wooden spoon. The fruit will get soft and break apart easily. Cook for 15 minutes, simmering on low heat to reduce the sauce and make it thicker.
2. Push the sauce through a sieve to remove as many seeds as you can. I find doing this with a metal tablespoon does a good job, some seeds usually still slip through the sieve and this is ok. If you find the sauce is still a little runny you can put it back on the stove to reduce it further though it does usually thicken upon cooling.
3. Take a meringue, dollop with cream and drizzle the raspberry sauce over. Top with the fresh fruit and enjoy.
Photography & styling notes:
I wanted this image to be snowy and ethereal, much like the dessert, with a little bit of drama from the fruit and sauce. The surface is a vintage bed sheet from my local Goodwill (the source of many a prop for this blog) as is the vintage jam spoon and Japanese porcelain bowl holding the blueberries. The board the meringues are resting on is the top off an old timber bar stool sanded and painted matte white (courtesy of a Freshwater resident who put it out in hard rubbish council clean-up). It was photographed on a very dark cloudy day and the light coming through the window was surprisingly dramatic.