Naturally astringent, rhubarb works very well in a sweet crisp pavlova. I have added cardamom, honey and pistachios to give it an eastern twist.
The key to a great pavlova is of course the meringue. To achieve this you need a scrupulously clean bowl and whisk. The whites should be whisked stiff before adding any sugar. If you add it too early you can kiss goodbye to a light and airy pavlova, as no amount of additional whisking can save it. Gradually add the sugar, whisking all the time. The mix should be thick and very stiff, holding itself in peaks by the time all the sugar is incorporated. Gently whisk in the vinegar, cardamom and corn flour and it’s ready for the oven.
Arguably the most important element of the process is a very low oven; you’re not really cooking the meringue, as much as drying it out. And whilst it doesn’t need to be completely dry, it needs enough time to form a brittle crust with an ever so slightly gooey center.
Cardamom Pavlova with Rhubarb, Honey & Pistachio – Serves 6
3 egg whites
190g caster sugar
2 tablespoons corn flour 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon ground roasted cardamom
400g rhubarb – cut into 2.5cm chunks
60g golden caster sugar
40g chopped pistachio
300ml double cream
1 tablespoon runny honey
- Preheat the oven to 90C.
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff & then slowly whisk in the sugar.
- When it is very stiff whisk in the corn flour, cardamom & vinegar.
- Spoon the meringue onto a flat tray lined with baking paper. Use a spatula to spread out to a circle about 24cm in diameter. Hollow out the center so the sides are a couple of centimeters higher.
- Cook for 3 hours, or until the pavlova is very crisp underneath. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
- Place the rhubarb in a single layer in a large pot. Add 100ml of water & 60g of sugar, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook over a low heat for 8 minutes or until tender but retaining its shape. Leave to cool then strain off the syrup.
- Boil the syrup hard to reduce in volume by half.
- Whisk the cream & fold in the yogurt.
- Fold in half the rhubarb & a little syrup.
- Spoon onto the pavlova & top with the remaining rhubarb.
- Scatter over the pistachios & drizzle over a little more syrup & the honey.