Thursday, February 12, 2015

Citrus Chocolate Pear Pavlova

Honey cooked pears, drizzled with a dark chocolate and orange glaze, crunchy almonds, and slightly tangy cream all in a marshmellow-y meringue nest. While DH's birthday cake was rich and delicious, I wanted something a little more complex for my quarter-century birthday.My favorite part was the meringue but then one cookie that I loved growing was what we called "Norwegian Kisses" (according to the internet, properly called "Pikekyss") so that's really not surprising. 

I have no idea how to make this vegan. The filling can be used as a light cake topping or even on pancakes or oatmeal for a vegan dessert. Might be nice on an angel cake. We ended up eating a 1/4 of this the night I made it and then crumbled the rest up for icebox cake. I think quartering it would be an excellent non-traditional Valentine's Day dessert (add some raspberries if you really want red in there.) The cream, keeping with the rest of the pile, is not your traditional lightly sweetened whipped cream. We took a lightly sweetened cream and cut it with Greek yogurt for some tang. DH was a little skeptical but he came around. I suppose you could just stick with the lightly sweetened cream if you really don't want the yogurt.

Note, this is not a quick dessert. But you can let it cool in the oven overnight/during the day if you are planning a party. The toppings keep in the fridge so you can prepare this the night before, clean up the dishes and just let them warm up to room temp while eating dinner. 

Glaze is barely adapted from Fran Costigan's Chocolate Orange and Almond Olive Oil Cake

4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup superfine sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ C cream + 1 t sugar (or 1 1/2 C prewhipped topping)
¾ C Greek yogurt
2 baking pears
2 T butter
2 T honey
3 T sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
2 t orange zest
1/4 C orange juice (unsweetened but really just use the juice from the orange you just zested)
2 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 t good olive oil (something you like the taste of)
vanilla extract
fine grain salt

1. Preheat oven to 250 F and line a flat baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper
2. Combine egg whites and a pinch of salt in a clean bowl and whisk until foamy
3. Add cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form
4. Add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, and whisk until stiff peaks form and the mixture is shiny. When pressed between two fingers, it should not feel gritty, if it does continue to beat. 
5. Fold in the cornstarch and vanilla extract
6. Spoon or pipe meringue onto a prepared sheet into a nest. Allow room between the meringue and the edge of the pan for expansion
7. Bake for around 1:15. If the meringue browns too much early, lower the temperature by 25. The pavlova is done when lightly browned. Let it cool completely in a closed oven to prevent it from cracking. Cool air from outside the oven will crack it so do not open the oven unnecessarily.
8. Chop the pears and combine with almonds, honey, and butter in a saucepan. Add a dash of vanilla extract if desired. Cook over low heat until the pears are very soft. Strain, setting aside the solids and cook the liquid down to a syrup. Store in an airtight container until ready to assemble.
9. If using cream, whisk it with the sugar until it holds it shape. Combine yogurt and cream by folding together. 
10. Heat the zest, juice, and chocolate over very low heat until the chocolate begins to melt. Remove from heat until completely melted then stir in oil, dash vanilla, and a pinch salt. Let cool until it thickens then store in an airtight container.

 To Assemble: Mound cream in the bowl of the meringue. Top with the pear almond mixture then drizzles with chocolate glaze.

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