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Brown Sugar Mini Pavlovas

June 11, 2010

Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert with a crunchy exterior and a gooey, marshmallow interior.  Sometimes it’s topped with fruit and whipped cream, sometimes with chocolate.  The contrasting textures enchant me.  These mini versions come together so fast you can make them during a dinner party while your guests are lingering over their last course.  Or whip them up as a quick, default sweet when your larder is short on other ingredients, which is what I usually do.  Mini Pavlovas do not keep well, and if it’s very humid, the crunchy exterior will turn soggy rather quickly, so eat them as soon as they are cool enough to handle.

Brown Sugar Mini Pavlovas

Ratio: 1/3 cup light brown sugar to 1 egg white

Optional: chai-spiced sugar for topping

One egg makes about half a dozen mini pavlovas.  You can easily double, triple, or quadruple this recipe.  Preheat oven to 325 F.  Separate the eggs and reserve the yolks for another use.

Beat the eggs until stiff peaks form.  Gradually (a few tablespoons at a time) beat in the brown sugar, and continue to beat until whites are thick and glossy.

You can pipe the batter onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, but I like to just glop it into strange shapes with a teaspoon.  There’s something wonderfully appealing about a plateful of different shapes, with varying peaks and valleys and bulges.

Sometimes I add a little chai-spiced sugar to the beaten egg whites, but these treats have a delicate flavor that is easily overwhelmed.  Most often, I just sprinkle a bit of the spiced sugar on the top of each sweet right before I pop them in the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on the parchment sheet until firm before removing.

Chai-Spiced Sugar

1 vanilla bean

2 cinnamon sticks

10 cardamom pods, cracked

1 cup turbinado, demerara or raw cane sugar

Combine ingredients in a clean, dry glass jar, and screw the lid on tight.  Store in a cool, dark place and shake occasionally.  Wait at least two weeks before using.

*The Chicago Spice House also makes a great Spiced Sugar with these flavors if you’d rather purchase something ready-made.


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