I’ve never been a huge pavlova fan which is very odd considering I have such a sweet tooth and thinking back I do have fond memories of meringues being served for dessert at home. My mum is quite the expert at meringues but I’m not sure I’ve ever stood there watching her whip up a meringue at home… now I’m wishing I had.
Meringues are a favourite in our family and my aunty makes a fantastic raspberry meringue ice cream (which I need to get the recipe for) and I have vivid memories of sitting in her garden with family enjoying many a scoop whilst relaxing in the sunshine.
Pavlova is a meringue based dessert served with cream and sharp fruits to counteract the gooey sweetness of the meringue. This totally makes sense.. sharp fruit used to cut through sugary sweetness. So when I came across Nigella’s Cappuccino Pavlova, it immediately caught my eye on two counts.
Firstly it was a cappuccino pavlova.. wow!
Going for coffee has got to be the best trend to take over the UK in the past 10 years. What did we used to do before hanging out in coffee shops all day drinking sweet milky drinks with a blueberry muffin on the side?
I can’t decide if it was ‘Friends’ or Starbucks that really made it perfectly acceptable to spend an afternoon on comfy sofas sipping on frothy milk to pass the time. Didn’t everyone just want to chill out on the sofa in Central Perk with the gang? Or was that just me…
Back to the pavlova.. the second thing that caught my attention about this dessert was that there was no fruit involved. Would the coffee provide such a differentiating flavour to the sweetness that you wouldn’t feel like it was too sickly sweet even for a sugar loving girl such as myself.
There was only one way to find out and that was to make it… but with a slight twist.
My preferred coffee choice is always a mocha and I’m quite particular about how I like it. Starbucks does a great mocha, Costa does a great mocha latte and Cafe Nero is just a no go zone (but does a lovely chai latte).
With this in mind, I decided I wanted to try and make Nigella’s Cappuccino Pavlova but as a mocha pavlova.
Nigella is a keen tweeter so I thought I’d tweet her and ask about how to adapt her recipe to create a mocha pavlova:
Whilst I was waiting for a response.. obviously not expecting one at all (I dread to think how many people tweet Nigella), I got on with making my meringue.
Above the noise of the kitchen aid mixer came the familiar noise that someone had been in touch via twitter:
I couldn’t believe it! And with that, I followed her instructions and thanked her for the advice:
Mocha Pavlova (inspired by Nigella Lawson’s Cappuccino Pavlova)
250g Caster Sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons good quality cocoa powder
4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
2 tsps of corn flour
1 tsp of white wine vinegar
300ml double cream
Cocoa powder to decorate.. cappuccino style!
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Draw a circle on to the baking parchment, using a 23cm cake tin as a guide.
Mix the sugar with the instant espresso powder and cocoa powder in a bowl.
In a clean, grease-free bowl whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are soft peaks and keep whisking while you gradually add the sugar-coffee-coca mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time.
When the mixture is incorporated you should have a firm, shiny meringue. Use a metal spoon to fold in the corn flour and vinegar.
Dollop large spoonfuls of the meringue mixture inside the drawn circle and smooth it with a spatula so that it has a flat top.
Put it in the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 150°C and cook for 1 hour. The meringue’s outer shell should be crisp, but only just. When it’s ready, turn off the oven and leave the Pavlova base inside until it’s cool.
Lift the base off the baking parchment and place it, top-side down on a large, flat plate.
Whip the double cream until thickened and airy, but still soft, and spread this delicately over the top (which previously was the bottom) of the meringue. With a teaspoon, push the cocoa powder through a fine sieve to decorate cappuccino-style.
With the meringue made I thought it was only polite to send Nigella a picture to see what she thought of my mocha pavlova before friends joining us that evening devoured it.
And to only magnify what a lovely lady she clearly is, she took the time to reply again:
This dessert is such a great alternative to the classic fruit pavlova that is so often served in the summer months in the UK. The coffee meringue with just a hint of chocolate was like having that hit of caffeine at the end of a meal that really is so satisfying and a perfect way to end a meal.
The coffee provides the much needed cut through to the sweetness of the meringue and to the soft whipped cream on top. It’s light, sticky with a bit of chew that reminds me a little bit of those fudgy chocolate brownies that Nigella makes so well. The cocoa giving just enough chocolatey flavour to make you feel like you really have just ordered a mocha in dessert form.
The crispy shell breaks in to shards as you slice into it that you just want to pick up the coffee coloured treats with your fingers, dip them in more cream and pop straight in your mouth.
With so many egg whites left in the fridge, I decided to make a couple of individual meringues the next day by just halving all the quantities and these really were just cute little miniature versions of the night before.
In my opinion, all meals should finish with dessert and coffee, which makes this pretty much the perfect pudding.