March 24, 2016
Passion Fruit Pavlova with Vanilla Cream
A few nights ago, I was driving home from having dinner with a friend and listening to the latest mixed CD my husband made for me. (Yes, I still listen to CDs in my car.) A new Coldplay song “Everglow” came on and although I had heard it before, something about the lyrics struck me.
I was intrigued by the few words I could make out, so I took the time and did a little digging to learn more. I found Clifford Stumme’s (he’s apparently “The pop song professor”) website, where he discussed that the ”Everglow” Coldplay sang about is a reference to the feelings of warmth and happiness that come with the sadness you feel when you think about a relationship, situation, or friendship that has now ended. No wonder this song drew me in. I have been able to relate to that feeling at many times, and hearing it now flooded me with memories of a very special chapter of my life.
And although pavlovas can be a bit tricky, they are worth every bit of the effort.
My husband Scott and I had been living in Houston, TX for just a year, but had already met some incredible people. We were kidless and fancy free, but thinking about starting our family soon and wanted to dig our roots a little deeper. We started looking for ways to build on the friendships we had, and along with a few others, started a weekly community group. Every Tuesday we would gather together over food and share not only funny stories and plenty of humor, but also some of the most tender and personal parts of our lives with one another. Eventually, many of us started our families together, walked through some really dark and tough times together, and all the while enriched our relationships with one another in the most special way. These Tuesday nights became some of the sweetest and most treasured memories I have. I’m sure you can imagine then, how I felt two years later when Scott and I made the difficult choice to move from Texas back to the Northwest, just 10 weeks before I had my second child.
That next year was rough...and that's putting it lightly. I struggled everyday with wondering if we had made the right decision moving away from such great friends and community. Every time I was lonely I would long for one of those Tuesday night suppers together with our small group tribe. Though we've visited back and forth over the years, I never stopped missing the days when those precious people were in our lives on the regular.
After about 2 years of being back “home” in the NW, I receive the happiest of calls. Our friends Tiffany and David (part of the original Tuesday night crew) were MOVING to Seattle! I thought my heart might explode with happiness. Tiffany was my first friend in Houston, and I was overjoyed that we would once again be seeing one another on a regular basis.
Shortly after moving to Seattle, Tiffany started the blog Oh Honey Bakes and she is absolutely killing it. I love visiting her site to admire and discover all of the amazing baked goods she has mastered and to try my hand at them, as well. Recently, Natalie and I collaborated with her to create a sweet little something to cap off your Easter dinner spread. The result was this stunning pavlova. And although pavlovas can be a bit tricky, they are worth every bit of the effort. So, enjoy this beautiful dessert come Sunday, but enjoy your friends and loved ones even more. I know I'll be savoring this special time with my bests, as I'm sure there will come a day this season of my life is just a warm and fond memory. On that thought, let's eat.
Passion Fruit Pavlova with Vanilla Cream
|4||large egg whites (reserve the yolks for passionfruit curd)|
|1 cup minus 1 tbsp||granulated sugar|
|1 tsp||white wine vinegar|
|2 cups||heavy whipping cream, chilled|
|2 tbsp||powdered sugar|
|1||vanilla bean pod, seeds scraped (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)|
Passion Fruit Curd
|1/4 cup||passion fruit purée|
|2 tbsp||fresh lemon juice|
|1||stick cold unsalted butter, cubed|
|poppy seeds for sprinkling (optional)|
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- In a stand mixer or using a hand-held electric mixer, whip the 4 egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar a little at a time, while continuing to whip. When mixture is stiff and glossy, add cornstarch and white wine vinegar. Stir until incorporated.
- Draw out an 8 inch circle on 2 pieces of parchment paper, that are set atop 2 separate baking sheets . Divide the meringue mixture into two large dollops on the center of the parchment paper circles. This way your meringues will turn out relatively even. Using a spoon, spread out the mixture with a slight dent in the center and slightly raised outer edges.
- Place the baking sheets with the meringues in the lower part of the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 260°F. Bake for 75-90 minutes, then turn off the oven leaving the meringues in to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine 3 of the leftover egg yolks with the passion fruit puree, the sugar and the lemon juice. Cook over low heat, whisking, until the sugar dissolves. Add the butter and cook, whisking, until thickened, about 8 minutes. Immediately strain the curd into a bowl. Press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface of the curd and refrigerate until chilled.
- When ready to assemble, whip the chilled heavy cream along with the vanilla bean seeds (or vanilla) and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Place one meringue on a platter or cake stand. Cover with ½ of the whipped cream and ½ of the passion fruit curd. Place the second meringue on top and layer again with whipped cream and the remaining curd. Sprinkle with poppy seeds and serve immediately.
Cooking tip: Meringues can be a difficult challenge with such simple ingredients. To achieve the best results avoid cooking on a rainy or humid day and avoid cooking anything on your stovetop that would produce steam of any kind.
*The meringue portion of this recipe is taken from Linda Lomelino’s beautiful blog Call Me Cupcake.
*The passion fruit curd recipe came from foodandwine.com.