SALTED CARAMEL PAVLOVA WITH MAPLE CREAM & COGNAC RAISINS
Pavlova desserts provide endless opportunities for creativity and interesting flavor combinations. This version has a Thanksgiving nuance and is stunning enough for any autumn celebration. Traditional pumpkin pie spices are added to the caramel and the earth tone brandy soaked raisins look and taste like fall. Beautiful and scrumptious, this dessert may just steal the show.
Nota bene: 1/4 cup maple syrup may be substituted for the maple sugar if necessary. While the pavlova may be made a day in advance and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap when cool, the dessert should be assembled no more than 2 hours in advance. The caramel may be made a couple of days in advance and rewarmed just before assembly.
8 egg whites
2 1/2 cups castor sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup cognac
1 cup pecan halves, toasted
Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup maple sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
MAKE THE PAVLOVA
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and use a cake pan or pie plate to trace a rough 10-inch circle on the paper. Spray the parchment with cooking spray.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until they are shiny. Begin adding the castor sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the meringue becomes stiff (but not dry) and shiny.
3. Sprinkle the cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla over the meringue and gently fold.
4. Gently spoon the meringue onto the circle drawn on the parchment paper lined baking sheet.
5. Flatten the top and smooth the sides of the meringue with an offset spatula.
6. Put in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 250 degrees F.
7. Bake for 1 hour and then turn off the oven until it cools completely (leave pavlova inside).
8. Once the pavlova is cool, remove from the oven. Reserve until ready to complete the dessert.
MAKE THE COGNAC RAISINS
1. Heat the cognac over medium low heat. When warmed, add the raisins. Remove from heat and cover until ready to finish dessert.
MAKE THE CARAMEL SAUCE
1. To make the caramel sauce, scald the cream, reduce the heat to lowest setting, and keep warm.
2. In another small heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the sugar over a medium flame and stir with a wooden spoon (no other!). The sugar will begin to melt and turn darker shades of amber and then brown. No worries if you have lumps at this point. They will melt as the sugar cooks and gets hotter.
3. When the caramel is a rich deep mahogany color, add the warm cream slowly while whisking continuously. If the cream isn't warm enough it will harden. Again, no worries, just turn up the flame a bit. Once the caramel is smooth and lump free, remove from the heat and allow to cool. As it cools, the sauce will thicken. At this point the caramel will keep a couple of days in the refrigerator. Reheat gently to a running room temperature consistency (but not hot) just before assembling the pavlova.
MAKE THE WHIPPED CREAM
1. Whip the cream to a light, soft, but not stiff, texture.
2. Add the maple sugar and vanilla and whip for 10 seconds. Reserve.
1. Place the pavlova on a serving tray.
2. Drizzle one third of the caramel sauce over the pavlova.
3. Drain the raisins in a mesh strainer. A bit of liquid will remain. Sprinkle the raisins over the top and sides of the pavlova.
4. Chop half of the pecans and leave the others whole. Arrange the whole pecans strategically around the top of the pavlova. Sprinkle the chopped pecans all over the top.
5. Finish by drizzling the remaining caramel over the top and sides of the pavlova and dust with sprinkling of Maldon Sea Salt Flakes.
6. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 2 hours.