Well, there is more to these than just "pavlovas"...
I really thought I would have to sit this one out...The theme for this month's Sugar High Friday was "Raw Chocolate" .... where am I going to find raw chocolate in my neck of the woods? There were the obvious choices like homemade chocolate including cocoa butter in the ingredient list, or cocoa nibs that I had successfully located a couple months back. I was feeling less than inspired. I kept looking at my pantry, at the cocoa nibs, at the fridge, and then inspiration came late friday night with these:
Cocoa Nib Pavlovas, Avocado Cream, Honeyed Strawberry and Pineapple, Cocoa Nib and Pistachio Praline....
Yep....just that...Really, I can't be left alone... and before you turn your heads away, let me tell you that sweet avocado rocks! I wanted to keep up with the raw theme throughout this dessert so beside the cocoa nibs everything else is in its original form. I thought at first of filling the meringue disks with a citrus curd or a chocolate cream, but I wanted something soft and light that would let your mouth taste the cocoa nibs as well as the crunch of the praline.
I am not going to lie, I was a bit skeptical about having avocados on the sweet side, but I found tons of recipes out there for avocado dessert so it gave me the confidence to break away from my savory conceptions and get whipping. And you know what...it is amazingly good!
All the components can be made up to one day ahead. These were assembled and served saturday night for a dinner party. I did not tell people about the avocado part, everybody assumed it was pistachio custard until one guest asked me for the recipe and everybody stopped eating, raised their heads, looked at their dessert funny for a minute and digged in again to the sound of :"crunch...crunch...crunch...this is so surprising...this is so good..."
Makes 12 shells, but I only used 6.
3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup cocoa nibs
Preheat oven to 275.
Mix the sugar and corn starch and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the ballon whisk, start whipping the egg whites to soft peaks. Slowly add the sugar mixture in a slow steady stream, or one tablespoon at a time. Stop the mixer and with a spatula, fold in the cocoa nibs.
Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper, and with a large spoon, mounds 12 meringue rounds. Bake at 275 for 40 minutes. Reduce heat to 250 and bake for another 20 minutes. At this point you can remove them from the oven, or turn the oven off and let them cool in the oven for a few hours. I let mine sit there overnight.
Avocado Cream, adapted from Avocado.org:
3 avocados, pitted, skin removed and cut into cubes
1/4 sugar, or to taste
1 cup heavy cream
juice of 1 lime
In a food processor, combine all the ingredients and puree until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
Cocoa Nib and Pistachio Praline:
100 gr. sugar, divided
1/4 cocoa nib
1/4 shelled raw pistachios
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In a heavy saucepan, melt 50 gr. sugar until light golden brown. Add the remaining 50 gr. sugar and stir until the sugar melt and the caramel is dark golden. Remove from the heat, quickly add the nuts and the nibs. Pour it onto the sheet pan and let cool completely. Break into pieces to decorate the meringues.
For the fruit I just cut up some strawberries and pineapple and drizzled them with some honey to taste.
Assemble the Pavlovas:
Do this just before serving.
Set one meringue disk on a plate. Scoop about 1/4 cup of the avocado cream. Spoon some fruit over the cream and add piece of praline to decorate.
This was perfect last night, as it was still over 80 degrees at 8pm, and it finished our dinner al fresco with style, simplicity and a very light feeling both in the stomach and the mouth.