Wattleseed Pavlova is a serious contender for an Australian national dessert. Pavlova originates from the 1920s, when it was invented in honour of the visiting ballerina of the same name (Australians and New Zealanders both claim to have created it first). The idea of serving the Pavlova with wattleseed-flavoured cream, garnished with lemon myrtle and presented in Swiss roll fashion instead of flat is the invention of Australian celebrity chef Vic Cherikoff and is reputed to be his flagship dish. My recipe is almost identical to the original.
Ingredients (10 portions)
For the cream:
300 ml double cream
1 tbsp wattleseed (or 2 tbsp of wattleseed extract)*
For the meringue:
7 egg whites
350 gm caster sugar (superfine sugar in the US)
pinch of salt
2 tsps cornflour
pinch of cream of tartar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
6 drops of vanilla extract (or the seeds from one whole pod)
For the crust:
50 gm shortbread, digestive or similar biscuit (or cornflakes, rice crispies or similar cereal)
10 gm lemon myrtle sprinkle*
jam (or sweetened reduced fruit compote or similar)
* These are Australian native herbs that can be obtained from a specialist supplier or directly from Australian product suppliers such as Vic Cherikoff, who originated this recipe.
|The starting point for this dish should be the cream, as the longer it rests infused with the wattleseed extract the more the coffee/hazlenut flavour will penetrate.|
If you don't have wattleseed extract, use the ground seed instead. Add a small amount of boiling water to the grounds in a cup or simmer gently in a pan for a few seconds.
|Once the flavour has been drawn from the wattleseed, filter the result through a fine mesh and collect the extract.|
It is not essential to remove all of the grounds as a small amount of residue can impart an interesting texture to the cream.
|Next, whip the double cream to stiff peaks, i.e. the point where peaks form and stay upright.|
I used a hand whisk for this as it is very easy to overwhip the cream using an electric beater.
You will know when cream is overwhipped because it will begin to separate and form butter and buttermilk.
|Now fold the wattleseed extract into the cream. Put your wattleseed cream into the fridge or somewhere cool, but do not allow it to freeze!|
|Now for the meringue. This dish requires a soft meringue that can be rolled, not the crisp and brittle meringue that we often see on cakes and in conventional Pavlova dishes.|
This means special care must be taken with sourcing the eggs to avoid health risks. Pasteurised eggs are recommended.
Note to myself: I wonder whether Italian meringue (made with hot sugar syrup) would work better with this dish?
Start by separating the eggs and setting aside the yolks to use whenever possible.
|Whisk the egg whites and gradually add half of the caster sugar and a pinch of salt.|
Start whisking slowly, preferably by hand, until the sugar has been absorbed. At this point the chance of overwhipping has been significantly reduced and you can use an electric beater.
This exercise will take much more effort than whipping the cream.
|Once soft peaks have formed, beat in the remaining sugar a little at a time.|
You will either need to use an electric beater for this stage or be very strong and fit!
|You will know when you have reached stiff peaks as the mixture will really hold its own and you can show off.|
Don't try this trick with the stiff cream as this is likely to result in the need for a shower, a good shampoo and a repeat cream-making exercise!
|At this stage sprinkle the cornflour, cream of tartar, vinegar and vanilla extract onto the surface and fold gently into the mix until evenly dispersed.|
Your meringue mix should have the gleaming white appearance shown here. If not, you have probably not used sufficient caster sugar.
|Cut pieces of greaseproof paper to fit the size of the base and sides of a tray and lightly grease. Spread the meringue out until roughly 2cm thick and bake at 140° until the surface is no longer tacky (roughly 10-15 mins).|
Be sure not to allow the meringue to colour.
|Don't be afraid of opening the oven to check the meringue a few times, doing this won't harm your product but will ensure you stop the cooking process before its too late.|
|When the surface of the meringue is no longer sticky and is beginning to harden, remove it from the oven and sprinkle with the biscuit crust (it will adhere better if added while the meringue is warm).|
Flip the meringue over onto a new sheet of greaseproof paper and carefully peel off the paper on which the meringue was baked.
Now cool the meringue a bit and then then trim off any rough edges if necessary.
|Cool thoroughly for spreading.|
The meringue must be cold or the cream will melt and become a gooey mess.
Now spread the wattlecream on top to roughly the same thickness as the meringue and proceed to roll widthways in similar fashion to a swiss roll.
Start the rolling process by lifting the greaseproof paper up at one end and bringing it gently over the bulk of the Pavlova.
|Once rolled, you'll need to allow the Pavlova to harden a little further before it's ready to be sliced.|
The Pavlova in the photo was rolled when slightly too firm, causing it to partly fold rather than roll into a smooth roulade.
Simply leave in a cool, dry place (preferably in a cake box) until it feels right to the touch. Be sure not to leave the Pavlova in a fridge or seal it in a container, as this will cause it to sweat and go very soft (the meringue will also absorb any odours from a fridge).
As soon as it is ready, simply slice to your own preference and serve with jam or fruit compote.