I know many Singaporeans are not very fond of meringues because they think of meringues as overly sweet blobs of baked egg whites.
I can see where they are coming from especially if they are trying to eat a 5-inch blob of meringue on their own.
That happened to my cousin when he chose to order a huge meringue along with his coffee one day while we were at a cafe. He wasn’t one with a sweet tooth so I was surprised by his choice. Perhaps he didn’t know what it was exactly or he was just attracted by the colour of it. Needless to say, I think he only took a few bites of it, leaving most of it behind.
I think meringues are best when they come in miniature form – not only do they look more adorable when they are small, they are just about the right portion to taste delicious.
If you are still not convinced about meringues (mini or not), there is one more thing that may change your mind about them – mini pavlovas.
Pavlovas make a perfect dessert; it is a delicious end to a heavy, rich meal. The balance in this simple dessert makes it so right, you will have trouble finding fault with it. The crisp exterior of the baked meringue giving way to a chewy center, with a luscious smooth cream, usually topped with fresh fruits like berries that counters the sweetness very well.
I made a few adjustments to a traditional pavlova – using mascarpone cream instead of chantilly cream, adding a drizzle of raspberry coulis to give it a little more acidity and making them small and easy to eat.
These are delicious and pretty yet incredibly easy to put together making them the perfect dinner party dessert. All the components can be made in advanced, and/or multiplied for a big group, and easily assembled at the end of the dinner for an enjoyable dessert.
Since these mini pavlovas are so light (after all, it is free from chocolate, butter, starch), your guests will be thanking you for this especially after a huge dinner of roasted leg of lamb, pasta and roasted vegetables.
I know that I would be making more of these for a post-dinner treat especially while the berries are still in season.
Recipe: Mini berry pavlovas with mascarpone cream
Makes 20 small pavlovas (7 cm in diameter)
The meringues can be made up to a week in advanced and stored in an air tight container between sheets of baking parchment to separate them. The meringues should remain white as you bake them – if they start to colour (turn brown), your oven is too hot! Turn the temperature down! The texture that you are aiming for is a crispy exterior, giving way to a chewy center when you bite into it.
You should eat this dessert immediately once you assemble it as the mascarpone cream will start to soften your meringue.
For the pavlovas (meringues):
120g egg whites (from about 3 large eggs)
240g caster sugar (superfine sugar, do not use coarse sugar for meringues)
raspberry coulis (you can make this on your own or use store bought)
Method: (Swiss Meringue method)
1. Preheat the oven to 130 degrees celcius. (I use a fan-forced oven for this to ensure there is even heating but you can use a convection oven.)
2. Whisk together egg whites and sugar in a very clean stainless steel bowl. I use hot water to rinse it through to remove any grease and wiping it dry. Place bowl over a bain marie and whisk together whites and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved. You will get a smooth, warm and slightly cloudy liquid. Remove from heat.
2. Transfer the warm mixture into a clean bowl of a electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat for about 10 minutes on high speed until you achieve glossy white mixture with firm peaks. Firm peaks are reached when you you see straight peaks when you lift up the whisk attachment and it does not droop back into the bowl. If you are using the raspberry coulis, you can drizzle the coulis on the meringue. Do not fold but simply just scoop or pipe the meringue onto the baking sheet.
3. You can choose to spoon the meringues onto a baking sheet and use the back of a spoon to make a grove in the center or pipe them using a star nozzle. I made both versions.
4. Lower the oven temperature to 100 degrees celcius and bake for about 1 hr 45 mins to 2 hours until crisp and dry. The ones with the swirled raspberry coulis will take a longer time to dry out.
To fill 20 pavolvas
You can adjust the proportion of the recipe for the no. of mini pavlovas you are assembling. In this case, it is best to make the amount that you need as this mascapone cream does not keep too well beyond a day or two.
250ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
1. Bring the mascarpone to room temperature. Whisk the double cream to soft peaks.
2. With a paddle attachment, cream the mascarpone until soft and smooth. Add in the vanilla extract and icing sugar and mix until well-incorporated.
3. Fold the whipped cream with the mascarpone.
Makes more raspberry coulis than you need for this recipe but you can always store it for future uses (to serve with pancakes and ice cream)
200g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
50g granulated sugar
a squeeze of lemon juice
1. Place raspberries, sugar and lemon juice into a pot and cook at medium low heat until raspberries fall apart. Stir it every now and then. Allow it to thicken to desired consistency ( It shouldn’t look runny)
2. Pass it through a blender. Use a fine-mesh sift to remove the seeds/pips. Transfer it to a air tight container and chill it down (it thickens as it cools). You can make this in advance and store it in the fridge for up to a week or freeze it for other uses for up to a month or two.
1 punnet of raspberries
1 punnet of blueberries
(You can use other berries like blackberries and sliced strawberries too)
1. Top the pavlova with mascarpone cream, raspberry coulis and fresh berries.
2. Finish with a dusting of icing sugar if you like. Serve immediately after assembling.