While I like to think I’m a generally productive person, procrastination can sometimes sneak its way into my life. I’ll wake up one Saturday morning and think of things I need to do. Of course, what I actually do is a different story.
What I need to do: Clean my house
What I actually do: Flip through my latest copy of Feast
What I need to do: Laundry
What I actually do: Browse through recipes on Pinterest
Before you know it, I’ve decided that my house isn’t a complete disaster and I have enough clean clothes to make it another couple of days. My magazine flipping and pinning on the other hand resulted in loads of new recipes to try. Suddenly, I feel more productive.
Procrastination isn’t all bad. If I didn’t replace my to do list with some quality Pinterest time, I never would have discovered Pavlovas and what would I do without these beautiful fruit-topped meringues in my life?!
A while ago, I was impressed with the fig and goat cheese macarons at Macaron by Patisse in Houston. Instead of the ultra-sweet experience I’ve come to expect, these macarons had the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Since then, I’ve been looking for chance to use the combination in my own baking and-needless to say-this was it.
Be warned that meringue making is a somewhat delicate process. If you’re new to it, here are a few keys to success:
1. Use a cold, ultra-clean bowl. Stick it in the freezer for a few minutes while you separate your eggs and and wipe the inside with a little lemon juice or vinegar to make sure it is completely grease-free.
2. Use the right sugar. Caster sugar is ideal, but if you only have granulated, you can quickly get a finer consistency if you stick it in a blender or spice grinder for 8-10 seconds. You can also warm the sugar prior to use so that it easily melts into the meringue mixture.
Hint: If you process the sugar longer, you can also make powdered sugar which you’ll use later in the recipe.
3. Use only egg whites. Do not let ANY yolk or egg shell creep into the mixture or you’ll likely never get the stiff peaks you’re looking for in the meringue.
GOAT CHEESE WHIPPED CREAM PAVLOVAS
4 egg whites
1 1/4 c caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean extract
1 tsp cornstarch
1 c heavy whipping cream
4 oz chèvre goat cheese at room temperature
2 tbsp powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread caster sugar across a pan and heat in the oven for 6-8 minutes. In the meantime, place your egg whites in a clean mixing bowl and whisk on low for a few minutes, slowly increasing the speed until soft peaks have formed in the bowl. Gradually add the heated sugar and continue to whisk for another 8-10 minutes until you have a smooth consistency and stiff peaks. Sprinkle the vanilla bean extract and cornstarch into the mixture and fold in gently to combine. At this point you can spoon the mixture onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Use the back of your spoon to leave an indention in the center for the cream you’ll be adding later.
Place the pavlovas into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then, turn off the oven and leave them in the oven for an additional 30 minutes.
Prepare the cream topping by whipping the cream, goat cheese and powdered sugar in a bowl until it forms soft peaks. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Once the pavlovas are done, remove from oven and carefully place on a rack to cool completely.
Pavlovas can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days if you’re not going to serve them immediately. Otherwise, you can assemble them with the goat cheese whipped cream, fresh figs, a drizzle of honey and serve.