These mini pavlovas are not only a favourite dessert in my kitchen in the summer, when freshly picked fruit from the allotment gets put to good use, but it is a dessert I make over the winter months, often using fruit I had frozen months earlier.
This simple dessert has the addition of dark chocolate and cinnamon for a festive flourish: not too much, just a touch of cinnamon (you don’t want the pavlovas tasting medicinal!) and hint of chocolate in there so you get flecks of dark chocolate suspended in the meringue.
I sometimes top them with coconut cream, lime and a splash of rum for a more tropical feel, using thick coconut cream that works very well.
I have been known to serve this as an alternative to Christmas pudding on Christmas Day for those who do not like Christmas pudding.
The egg whites I used for this batch were frozen a while back (I always freeze the whites when I use just the yolks in a dish; the whites are perfect for macarons or meringues).
The convenience of frozen fruit
The blueberries here were also frozen months ago when I picked them: you just pop them on the cream, let them defrost and serve. I often top with raspberries and strawberries from the freezer, too, but had used the last of those up!
However, if you want more of a taste sensation, serve the pavlovas with fruit still frozen: it’s marvellous!
The proportion of egg white and sugar for a perfect meringue
Unlike many baking recipes, precision with the weighing out is not crucial to meringues.
As a rough guide, I use the egg whites straight from the shell, going for the white of 1 large egg to 50g sugar.
However, when I use frozen egg whites, it is harder to estimate how many eggs – especially when I don’t write this information on the container before freezing!! In which case, I then go by weights:
Going by weights: for caster sugar, go for double the weight the egg whites. So for 41g egg whites (this rather random number was merely what I had in the container I defrosted for this batch), use 82g caster sugar. This gave me 6 mini pavlovas.
The pavlovas are fine to make a couple of days before, stored in an airtight container in a cupboard once cooled, and then topped with cream and fruit a few hours or so before serving.
Recipe: chocolate and cinnamon mini pavlovas – makes 8-10
For the chocolate and cinnamon meringue:
- 2 large egg whites
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornflour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (omit if you don’t like cinnamon)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped or grated dark chocolate
- 300ml whipped cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon icing sugar
- a handful of fresh fruit to decorate: eg) bluberries, raspberries, strawberries, passionfruit, mango, pomegranate seeds, orange segments……
- grated chocolate
(1) Line a large baking tray with a double sheet of greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 150C (130C if using a fan oven).
(2) In a bowl (fully dry and free from any grease), add the egg white and whisk for a minute or so to start to froth up. Add about ¼ of the sugar and keep whisking for about a minute. Repeat until all the sugar has been incorporated and then whisk for about 5 minutes or until the meringue is firm and holds it shape easily.
(3) Whisk in the cornflour, cinnamon and then stir in the chocolate.
(4) Take about a tablespoon of the meringue and place onto the baking sheet, flattening slightly in the centre with the back of the spoon so the outside is slightly raised like a rim. Alternatively, you can pipe the meringue in circles, including a raised rim on top around the edge which will hold the cream easily.
(5) Repeat with the remaining meringue and then put into the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Turn off the oven and keep the mini pavlovas in there until the oven is fully cool. I often do this the night before and leave them in the oven (turned off!) overnight.
(6) Whip up the cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract until fairly firm peaks form. Spoon onto the cooled pavlovas and top with fruit and a sprinkling of grated chocolate.
Note: you can brush melted chocolate over the cooled meringues before leaving it to set and then topping with cream. This will give a barrier between the meringue and the cream so that the moisture in the cream will not soften the meringue: ideal if getting the pavlovas all decorated the night before, for example.