By Sofia Gallo @in_cucinacon_sofia
This dessert, inspired by my Nonna’s classic apple cake, it’s all about using seasonal produce and combine them with the best spices. Growing up in a small village in Italy, I was used to eat only what the season had to offer. Nanna would carefully pick the apples fallen from the tree and would always make a great use of them, if they were not good enough to eat as a fruit. You can’t have apples without adding cinnamon, is a match made in heaven and they are at their best during this time of the year. Pavlova is also a great way of using leftovers egg whites from all the pasta making, and I thought it was a great opportunity to show how a classic dessert, can also be a showstopper and ethereal, if changed by the seasons.
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 2 hrs
For the pavlova:
- 150 g egg whites
- 120 g caster sugar
- 120 g soft brown sugar
- 2 tsp of cinnamon
For the spiced apples:
- 300 g cooking apples – or preferred apples
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 30 g butter
- 2 star anise
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
For the mascarpone cream:
- 125 g mascarpone cheese
- 25 g double cream
To finish: Toffee sauce, 30 g of chopped walnuts, icing sugar to dust
- In a large glass bowl start your Swiss meringue by dissolving both sugars in the egg whites on a Bain Marie.
- Once the sugar is completely dissolved, whisk on a high speed until medium to stiff peaks and looking glossy.
- Add your cinnamon and continue to which to very stiff peaks, being mindful not to whisk too much. I use a hand whisk because allows me to control the egg whites better.
- On parchment paper, draw a 20 cm round, helping yourself by using a cake tin, flip upside down and start by adding the meringue.
- Shape the meringue to your taste, and bake for about 2hrs in a pre-heated oven at Gas Mark 2/300 F°/150 C°
- Prepare your apples. Core and peel your apples and add them to a heavy saucepan with butter, sugar and all spices. Let these soften on a low heat, adding water if necessary. You still want them to have a bite, without being stewed. Set them aside to cool down.
- For the mascarpone cream, add the double cream to a bowl and add the mascarpone. Both must be of the same temperature, either cold from the fridge or at room temperature. Set aside.
- Once your pavlova is baked, leave to cool down in the oven for another hour before assembling.
- To assemble: place your pavlova on a cake stand. Start by placing your mascarpone cream, then top with your apples. Finish with toffee sauce, chopped walnuts and a dust of icing sugar combined with more cinnamon.
- Make sure your sugars are completely dissolved before starting to whisk. You can do this by rubbing some of the egg whites between your fingertips. If you can’t feel any grains, the eggs are ready to be whisked.
- Keep checking the meringue to avoid any cracks. The cinnamon will give a lovely dark colour, so be mindful of not overbaking.
- If you feel that the Swiss meringue might be a little daunting, try to use the French meringue and use all caster sugar, adding this a tbsp at the time, from when the eggs are starting to froth.
- Use shop bought toffee or caramel sauce for an even more timely hack.
- You can use the meringue base for any other inspired pavlova, suitable for every time of the year.