Brown sugar pavlova with brandy spiked cherries and spiced mascarpone cream

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This is a recipe for pavlova, all grown up.  Charged with dessert duty for Christmas, I wanted to reinvigorate the old family favourite topped with its familiar medley of tropical fruits.  Cherries are plump and bursting with sweet, slightly tart juice at this time of year, and we’ve spent hours devouring cherries in the sunshine, chatting and spitting the pips into napkins and into the garden.

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In this cake, cherries are infused with the warm honey of the wine, and team neatly with the caramely brown sugar crusted pavlova, with its fluffy centre, and the fresh cream spiked with dusky aroma of cardamom and cinnamon. Present it proudly bearing its cracks, and the cherries piled boldly and elegantly on top.

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Pavlova, like most cooking, requires a bit of science.  But neglect the technique with pavlova and you might end up with a sugary omelette, a charred crumbly disc, or a weeping, hollow chunk of confection. (The latter is in reference to the teary cook, not the cake).  I know, because these things have all happened to me. Here are a few tips I’ve found useful:

  1. Use eggs that are at room temperature.
  2. Make sure your equipment is spotless, and that no egg yolk sneaks into the mix.
  3. Ensure that the sugar is completely dissolved to avoid the pavlova weeping.
  4. To lock in air, do not stop mixing the egg whites when incorporating the sugar.
  5. Be gentle with the mixture and work as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  6. Do not open the oven at all during the cooking process. When cooking is complete, allow the oven to cool completely before removing the pavlova.  This will prevent the pavlova collapsing.

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You will need

For the brown sugar pavlova

4 egg whites
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla essence or vanilla bean paste

For the brandy-spiked cherries

500 grams cherries (or as many as you can fit on your cake!)
1 cup of sweet fortified wine
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla essence or vanilla bean paste
1 tbsp brown sugar

For the spiced mascarpone cream

300 ml thickened cream
125g mascarpone
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp brown sugar

Directions

For the pavlova

  • Preheat the oven to 150 C.  Line a baking tray with baking paper and dust with icing sugar.
  • Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.
  • Without stopping the mixer, add the caster sugar slowly until the mixture is glossy and thick.
  • Add the brown sugar, and whisk until glossy and the brown sugar has dissolved.
  • Using no more than 6 folds, fold in the cornflour, vinegar, and vanilla bean paste.
  • Quickly and gently pile the mixture on to the baking tray.
  • Bake for 2 hours.  Turn off the oven and allow it to cool completely before removing the pavlova.

For the cherries

  • Place cherries into a large pan, so that they sit in a single layer. Prick cherries with a fork.
  • Add the wine, brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.
  • Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the alcohol has cooked-off and the cherries are infused but still firm.
  • Remove the cherries and continue cooking the wine and juice until it forms a syrup.

For the mascarpone cream – Beat all ingredients in a bowl until just spreadable.

Spread the mascarpone cream on the pavlova, pile the cherries on top, drizzle over the cherry syrup.

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One comment

  1. Nancy Palma · · Reply

    Looks absolutely lovely!

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