Wednesday, June 1, 2016

roasted rhubarb pavlova.

After tackling my first pavolva a couple of weeks back, I can't think of any dessert that is more fitting to usher in summer.  

Pavlova is a traditional Australian dessert and it's a fitting match.  Australia (at least in my head) is the land of eternal summer so a national dessert that is incredibly light and refreshing feels appropriate.      

For those unfamiliar with the gloriousness that is pavolva, it is essentially a meringue with crispy exterior and a soft and fluffy like marshmallow interior, covered in whipped cream and fruit.   This version uses caramelized roasted rhubarb as the fruit of choice and it's a brilliant decision.  The combination of tart and tender rhubarb with a sweet and crispy/creamy meringue is irresistible and incredibly seasonally appropriate.   

Roasted Rhubarb Pavlova
Recipe from Sweeter Off the Vine

Some things to note - This is a dessert that once assembled, needs to be eaten ASAP.  All components can be prepared ahead of time, but if you want more then a couple of hours to eat the pavlova once assembled it looses its crisp exterior and the crisp exterior is an important part of the dish.  

I omitted the addition of whipped cream as I didn't have cream on hand and also didn't feel it needed it (shocking I know).  The choice is yours.  It will be excellent no matter what.   

I also think it would be adorable to make individual pavlovas instead of one large one if you were serving them as part of a dinner party!

For the Meringue

1 cup (200g) superfine sugar
11⁄2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 large egg whites
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract 
1 teaspoon white vinegar

For the Rhubarb

12 ounces (340g) rhubarb stalks, leaves removed
1 vanilla bean
1⁄3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
Pinch salt
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon (about 4 teaspoons)

For Serving

1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

Directions for the Meringue: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 225ºF (110ºC). Trace an 8-inch circle onto a piece of parchment paper and flip the paper upside down on a baking sheet.

To make the meringue: Stir the cornstarch and sugar together in a small bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a handheld electric mixer in a large bowl, beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar on medium high speed until soft peaks form. Turn the mixer up to high and with the mixer running, slowly add the sugar mixture about one tablespoon at a time and whip until the egg whites are stiff and glossy, about 7 minutes. Add the vanilla and vinegar and mix for 30 more seconds.

Dollop the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly to the edges of the traced circle. Make a shallow (1⁄2-inch) indent in the center of the meringue leaving a 1-inch border around the edges; this will hold the rhubarb and whipped cream. Bake the meringue for 1 to 11⁄2 hours or until the outside looks dry and slightly creamy in color. Turn off the oven and prop the door ajar with a wooden spoon. Let the meringue cool completely in the oven. It should feel firm and crackly when you press it, but will be soft and marshmallowy in the center. When cooled, you should be able to gently peel it off of the parchment paper and place it on a serving platter or cake stand. The meringue can be prepared a day in advance and stored in an airtight container.

Directions for the Rhubarb: Preheat the oven to 375º (190ºC). Cut the rhubarb stalks into 3-inch lengths. Use the tip of a knife to split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. In a baking dish large enough to hold the rhubarb in a single layer, toss the cut rhubarb with the vanilla bean seeds, sugar, salt, and lemon juice; tuck the vanilla bean pod in among the rhubarb. Bake until the rhubarb is soft and juicy but not falling apart, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then remove the vanilla bean pod, rinse it off, and save it for another use.

Directions for Assembly: Whip the cream and sugar together to stiff peaks. Top the cooled meringue with the whipped cream, then the cooled roasted rhubarb pieces. Finish by drizzling with the pomegranate molasses and any rhubarb juices left in the baking pan. Slice into wedges and serve immediately.

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