Wednesday, December 2, 2009
My steps were short and heavy as my arms bowed under the weight of bags straining to hold their profusion of Christmas-presents-to-be. I exhaled sharply as I lifted my legs over the front step, exhausted from many hours of shopping and the stinging neck pains that resulted.
At that moment, while I was fumbling for keys, two white butterflies unhurriedly danced between my legs, as if I were a calm tree, and not some crazed woman with holiday frustration. I forgot my search for the keys, my arms no longer complained of exertion and I exhaled with a smile, not a burden. Their dance around my ankles may have only lasted a few seconds, but in those seconds I was refreshed and I could hear my heart laughing. Somehow that one moment erased all of the irritation I had collected during my Christmas shopping.
With my butterfly-induced good mood I decided to make something as equally refreshing and wonderful.
Mascarpone & mango pavlova with mango in vanilla syrup
4 egg whites
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
Mascarpone & mango filling
1/3cup thick cream
200ml mango puree (about 1 1/2 mangoes)
1/4tsp vanilla extract
Mango in vanilla syrup
75 (1/3cup) caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cinnamon stick
2 mangoes peeled, stone removed and thinly sliced
Using an electric mixer, beat eggwhite until firm peaks form, then gradually add caster sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating well until sugar is dissolved before adding more, and beat until thick and glossy. Divide mixture among two base and side-lined 22cm springform pans and bake at 140C for 1 hour until firm and dry to the touch. Turn oven off and cool pavlovas with door ajar. For mascarpone and mango filling, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until firm peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until ready and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until liquid is reduced and of a syrupy consistency. Place mango slices in a bowl, pour warm syrup over, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Place the less perfect meringue on a serving plate, spoon filling over, then top with remaining meringue. Serve slices of pavlova with mango in vanilla syrup.
prep time: 10mins to get the pavlova into the oven (make the rest while it cooks for an hour and cools).
cooking time: 5mins to put it all together.
total: 1 hour and 40mins (includes cooling in the oven).
taste: 4.5/5. Beautiful, fragrant vanilla with sweet cinnamon hits your tastebuds first followed by creamy, mango puree that dissolves to reveal chewy, sweet pavlova before your mouth is refreshed by the juicy mango slices. The pavlova allows both incarnations of the mango to shine brightly and please your palate whilst providing a delicious base.
Despite cooking it for 10mins less than recommended, it had already browned too much and was therefore chewier - it also refused to yield to my knife as a donkey does to being pulled, causing the filling to come oozing out and the layers to flatten. Despite this, the flavours made up for the firmer texture and difficulty in serving it. Just keep an eye on it and if it starts to brown turn the oven off.
would I make it again: Yes - it has the potential to be a great dessert to serve to guests.