Is there anything greater than a pav?

To me it’s more Australian than budgie smugglers and pie-with-sauce (though a few Kiwi’s I know  might raise some arms about this claim).

It’s a dessert that screams of childhood parties and celebratory feasts.

For those not familiar, or hungry for waffling description- here we go; imagine a  fat cloud of meringue, crackled and imperfect on the outside and marshmallow gooey on the inside.

If you were feeling deep, you could get metaphoric about why Australians see so much of ourselves reflected in the dish.

The standard version (and possibly the most loved) is topped with sweetened collar of white cream and a trifecta of fruits. Passionfruit and strawberries are key. Banana and kiwi fruit are also popular, but may call forth some consternation, depending on who’s at the table.

So vital was the pav in my childhood that they formed the strata of my Christmas stocking. Down under we didn’t have a clementine at the toe  (Australians not having such an issue with scurvy). Instead there was a Pavlova Magic; the edible equivalent of Sea Monkeys. Just add water and let the the fun begin.

But really, you don’t need an instant dessert in an egg to have the fun. Making a pavlova is a walk in the park.

There are egg whites.

There’s some sugar, acid,  and for some extra marshmallow gooeyness there’s cornflour.

What follows is not the blonde Australian pavlova of my childhood.

This is a much more wintry, adult interpretation.

In the past I’ve mucked with my meringues. I’ve folded ground coffee through it and topped them with figs. I’ve used brown sugar instead of white. But this time my thoughts turned to cinnamon. And more specifically, a holy trinity of cinnamon, chocolate and pears.

In this version the cinnamon gets folded through the meringue, speckling it like sunspots on a kid who’s spent too long shunning the shade. And the taste? Pure comfort; from the crunch and sweetness to the earthy twist of cinnamon.

Pull my leg if it isn’t exactly the taste of cinnamon toast.

From there the chocolate and the pears whisk it to a slightly French location. A twirl on a Belle Helene, if you must.

The end result is a mildly elegant, nay, European version of  a dessert usually eaten while your swimming cossie is still damp (in my childhood all great parties involved swimming of some sort).

If it wasn’t so good, I’d say this bastardisation of a national classic should serve as a red flag that I’ve been away from home for too long.

Luckily we’ll be back in Sydney a few days before Christmas. Let the count down begin.

Cinnamon, chocolate and pear pavlova

This is a squat pavlova, appropriate for 4-6 people. If you want something more buoyant and to really feed a crowd, bump the egg whites to 6 and double the chocolate cream topping.

Equipment
1 bowl. 1 tray lined with baking paper. Electric whisks. 

Shopping/foraging

3 egg whites
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 cup castor sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Chocolate cream topping
1 cup double cream
2 tablespoons of good quality drinking chocolate
1 pear, finely sliced
Additional dark chocolate, to grate over the top

Here’s how we roll

1. Preheat oven to 150 C/ 300 F . Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Beath the egg whites in a large bowl on high until soft peaks form. Add 3/4 of the cup of sugar and keep whipping until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the remaining sugar, cinnamon, conrflour and lemon juice and gently fold in.

3. Build a dome of the meringue on the baking paper. Use the side of your spatula to make slashes upwards around the perimeter, to encourage the meringue to rise.

4. Bake in the oven for 1 hour. Turn off the oven after an hour but leave the pavlova inside for another 30 minutes.

5. Make the chocolate cream by stirring the chocolate powder into the cream and then whipping until you get soft peaks.

6. Top with slices of pear (nb, you can make the base the day before and keep it in the oven. But don’t apply the topping until just before serving. Otherwise it will get a little….soggy.)

* For something to do with the extra egg yolks- why don’t you think about making some lemon curd? It’s pretty great folded through slightly melted vanilla ice cream.