Desserts aren’t a massive part of my repertoire but they’re something I am working on, and I like to come up with fresh and zingy dessert ideas. This one is a twist on Dad’s two favourite desserts — pavlova and passionfruit sponge. The meringues can be made ahead of time as they take a long time to make and cool in the oven.
Preparation time: 1 hour cooking time – 1½ hours – Serves six
- 6 scoops passionfruit sorbet
- 6 scoops vanilla ice cream
- 3 passionfruit
- 1/4 cup mint cress
- 4 egg whites, at room temperature
- 220 g (73/4 oz/1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 5 large egg yolks
- 110 g (33/4 oz/1/2 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 3 egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 40 g (11/2 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 20 g (3/4 oz) cornflour (cornstarch)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 40 g (11/2 oz) butter, melted and cooled
- Passionfruit curd
- 1 sheet gold-leaf gelatine
- 2 free-range eggs
- 75 g (21/2 oz/1/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 50 g (13/4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 50 g (13/4 oz) tinned passionfruit pulp
For the meringues, preheat the oven to 120°C (235°F/Gas 1/2). Line two baking trays with baking paper.
Place the egg whites in the clean dry mixing bowl of your electric mixer with a pinch of salt. Whip the egg whites on medium–high speed until soft peaks form. Turn the motor to high and continue whipping while slowly adding the sugar one tablespoon at a time, incorporating each spoonful fully, before adding the next. When all the sugar has been added you should have glossy and stiff peaks.
Use a tablespoon to spoon the mixture onto the lined baking trays. Each little meringue should be two tablespoons worth of mixture. This quantity makes about 12 mini meringues. Place the meringues into the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 95°C (200°F/Gas 1/2). Cook for one hour, then turn the oven off and leave the meringues to cool inside the oven. When cool, store the meringues in an airtight container until needed.
For the sponge, preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F/Gas 2–3). Grease and line a 20 cm (8 inch) spring-form cake tin.
Using an electric mixer, beat the yolks and 50 g (1¾ oz) of the sugar until thick and pale. In another clean dry bowl, beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 60 g (2¼ oz) of sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form.
Sift the flours into the egg yolk mixture and gently mix together along with the lemon zest. When combined, add in one-third of the egg whites with a large kitchen spoon and gently incorporate these. Once you have loosened the mix slightly, add the remaining egg whites, folding them gently to combine. Finally fold in the cooled melted butter.
Gently pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 18–20 minutes or until golden and cooked. Set aside to cool.
To make the passionfruit curd, soak the gelatine leaf in iced water for a couple of minutes to soften. Place all the other ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and mix well. Heat the curd in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. Squeeze out the gelatine leaf and add to the mixture after the first microwave. Continue cooking the curd in 30 second bursts, whisking well in-between each burst. The curd will bubble and the egg will begin cooking.
The entire cooking process should take no longer than five minutes to achieve a perfect curd (see note). Strain through a fine sieve, then pour into a small bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set.
Now it’s time to get creative! Think about how you want the different textures and elements to look on the plate and how they are going to come together. For each portion, I just smash up one or two of the meringues, tear up the sponge and place a couple of pieces of it on a large plate. Then I scoop the ice cream and sorbet into quenelles, top with spoonfuls of the curd and cover it all with fresh passionfruit and mint cresses. But you can serve it anyway you like — even in a martini glass just like an Eton Mess.
When making meringues, starting with your egg whites at room temperature will help you incorporate a greater amount of air and result in fluffy meringues. Be careful when separating eggs to ensure that there is no yolk caught up in the whites. It is important that your mixing bowl is clean, dry, and free of any oil or egg yolk — water, fats and oils are not friends of egg whites. ‘Stiff peaks’ are when the egg whites stand on their end and do not flop. At the ‘stiff peaks’ stage check to see that all the sugar has been incorporated into the mix by rubbing some meringue mix between two fingers. If the mixture is smooth the sugar has been fully incorporated.
I think the microwave does a great job cooking curd, but if you prefer to do it the old-fashioned way, just place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until the mixture thickens enough to thickly coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Dish it up by Hayden Quinn
Allen & Unwin
RRP: $35 – Buy on Booktopia for $24.50
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