Sadly, we’ve reached the end of Pavlova Week. Next week we’ll just be back for boring old Wednesdays. If it cheers you up at all, though, the recipe I have for you today is amazing. (I know I say that every time, but I wouldn’t put up a recipe that isn’t amazing, so at least you know it’s true!)
It’s a very hot spring here in Philadelphia, but it’s spring nonetheless, and the roses know it. I grew up in Florida. Roses are not common in Florida. Roses die in Florida. Here, they are happy and blooming and smell wonderful. So, I thought, why not at least try a rose pavlova? If it’s bad, no need to tell anyone. If it’s good, all the better.
It’s good. So I’m telling you. And when I say that it’s good, I mean that I really don’t like rose flavoured edibles, but this is good. Rose can be unpleasant and overwhelming in food. To me, it’s too sweet and doesn’t have enough nuance to the flavor. There are, however, two parts of this pavlova that prevent the rose from going overboard. One is the size: it’s big enough that a small amount of rosewater doesn’t get too concentrated. The other is the honey, which can also be a strong flavor on its own, but here the two can compliment each other, but they can also stand up to one another.
I actually tried five different flavor combinations with the rose to see what the best toppings would be. Four of them had whipped cream, which I love, but it didn’t sit well on the rose. On top of the cream, we tried lemon curd, passionfruit curd*, crushed pistachios, and raspberries.
Personally, I thought raspberries worked the best of those four options, not including honey. My mother really liked the pistachios. They both may work better without the cream, if you’re not a fan of honey. I chose honey in the end partially because it handles the rose better, which I don’t think either pistachios or raspberries would do, but also because it creates such a beautiful sheen over the smooth surface of the pavlova. It would be a shame to cover up this beauty.
As with any pavlova, breakages are just going to happen. I was really lucky with this one that the breaks, which were the result of getting it on the tray, happened to fall in a circular pattern, like rose petals. I also swirled the top a little when I was arranging the meringue mix before it went in the oven. This happened to be the best pavlova I’ve made so far – that might partially be because I’ve made so many now that I actually feel like I know what I’m doing. I don’t want to go on and on anymore about how light and fluffy pavlova is, because I’ve done enough of that, but this was really light and fluffy.
I may have stripped two large roses for this shoot, which I felt really bad about, but I didn’t know how else to get such luxurious pictures. If I’m going to go halfway and make rose anything, then I may as well go all the way and make a bed of rose petals for it to lie in, as ridiculous as that concept is. I’m actually slightly embarrassed to even post these pictures, they’re so ridiculous (perhaps what’s more ridiculous is how easily I could get my hands on a silver platter). It’s worth it, for the end of pavlova week, I suppose, but then the question becomes: how do I top this?
As always when making pavlovas, remember:
- If you’ve got one, use a stand mixer. You can do it with a hand mixer, but it’ll take a while, and you can do it by hand, but again, it’ll take a while.
- No grease or egg yolk in the mixing bowl! Make sure it’s clean and dry. Crack the eggs into another bowl and add the whites one by one so you don’t accidentally contaminate the other five whites with your last yolk.
- Mix the whites until they hold a small peak – but not super stiff, you don’t want to over beat them and have them separate.
- Add the caster sugar slowly. If you shove it all in at once, the whites will drop.
- Beat the whites and sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved, and no further – you’ll know when this is if you pinch a bit of mix between your fingers. It needs to feel smooth, no grainy bits.
- When the sugar is incorporated, the mix should stand up when you pull the whisk away.
- Mix the vinegar and cornstarch together before you put them in. It helps them blend better. Put them in at the very end with the rosewater, and then mix them all in by hand, just enough to combine.
Now go be ridiculous.
*Passionfruit curd is by far the best of the curd family. I get mine from Condiment, because passionfruits are hard to find and I wouldn’t want to make it even if I could – but seriously, if you have the chance, try it.
Rose and Honey Pavlova
Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 1½ hrs
For the pavlova:
6 egg whites (room temperature is best)
365g caster sugar
½ tsp rosewater
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp vinegar
For the honey:
½ cup honey
- Preheat oven to 275 F. Line a large baking tray with parchment and draw a circle
about 20cm across. Flip the parchment over so the ink is facing down.
- Measure out your ingredients first. Mix the vinegar and cornstarch together.
- In the bowl of your mixer, crack in six egg whites – do them in a separate bowl to
make sure you don’t get any yolks in.
- Turn on the mixer to about half speed – I use 4 – and watch as the whites go
opaque and fluffy. When the whites are full of small air bubbles and they hold a
small peak, begin adding the caster sugar/cocoa powder slowly.
- The mixture will become glossy and sticky. Check for when the sugar has been
fully dissolved by rubbing it between your fingers. If it’s grainy, it’s not done yet.
- When the sugar has dissolved, stop mixing. The meringue mix won’t be stiff
enough to hold the bowl over someone’s head, but it will be thick with very little
movement – it will hold its shape in stiff peaks. I’ve found that continuing to whip
after the sugar goes in leads to over-whipping, and that you get a softer, fluffier
inside this way.
- Take the bowl out of the mixer and pour in the vinegar/cornstarch and
rosewater. Give it an easy mix by hand just to combine.
- Spoon the mix onto the parchment. Try to keep it in the circle, and run a knife up
the sides to support the pavlova. Don’t neglect the middle – I usually take what
comes up the sides and use my finger to spread it in a spiral on top.
- Put the pav in the oven and turn it down to 225 F. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.
- When the time is up, do NOT open the oven door. Just turn the oven off and leave
it in for at least two hours. After that, prop the oven door open with a spoon, and
an hour later you can take it out. The pavlova will survive at room temperature
for about two days, so it can be made ahead of time.
- Arrange the pavlova on your serving dish and gently pour the honey on top. If
necessary you can warm the honey in the microwave so it pours better. Once the
honey is on, serve it instantly – it’s going to keep sliding down the pav, so make
sure your serving dish is big enough to catch the excess.