There’s something almost magical about the texture of baked meringue. The way it gets so crisp-yet-fragile on the outside, and a simple crack of the outer shell reveals the gooey, soft, and sweet center within. Meringue cookies have always had a soft spot in my heart, and when I discovered pavlova several years ago it brought my adoration to new heights, since pavlova is basically just a giant meringue cookie with a bunch of delicious toppings piled on. So when I was approached about reviewing the Meringue Girls cookbook, I immediately said yes, and then got even more excited when I saw a recipe for a pavlova that was covered in Greek things (pistachios, honey, rose water, and yogurt. Not much more of a greek dessert combo than that.)
It was a bit tricky to pick just one though, recipes like maple meringue donuts with caramelized bananas definitely had my mouth watering. The cookbook starts with a basic recipe for their Meringue Girls Mixture, which is a meringue base that is used throughout the recipes in the rest of the cookbook. It makes the most delicious meringues with the absolute perfect texture, and it’s surprisingly easy to make. But the best part of the cookbook is seeing how they incorporate meringue into so, sooooo many tasty things. Chewy pistachio coffee dunkers, salted caramel poached pear and chocolate drizzle meringue slab, mayan hot chocolate with floating meringue kisses, lemon meringue waffles, and a gooseberry and strawberry meringue compote are just a few of the long list of sweets I’m now dying to make.
The Pavlova came out really well, nice and light with the perfect hint of rose. After that I spread the yogurt on top along with the honey, pistachios, figs, and a few organic rose petals for garnish. The weight of the yogurt and figs made the pavlova crack a bit, but pavlovas usually end up cracking due to the weight of the topping, anyway. And I didn’t mind the cracking so long as it tasted good, and boy did it taste great. The sweetness and crunch of the pavlova combined with the thick, creamy yogurt and juicy figs made for an ideal summer sweet, perfect for the mini-heat wave that’s been going on. My uncle has a fig tree up here, and while it’s a bit early for figs in Oregon, I know once they’re ripe I’ll be making this again soon…
But onto the giveaway!! The wonderful folks at Chronicle Books have offered to giveaway three copies of the Meringue Girls cookbook, hurray!! To enter, please use the rafflecopter widget below. Entry period ends at 11:59 pm PST on July 24th. Best of luck!
Meringue Girls Mixture
Pistachio and Rose Water Pavlova with Greek Yogurt, Honey, and Figs
Begin by making the Meringue Girls Mixture. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, evenly distribute the sugar on top of the parchment paper, and bake the sugar in the oven for about 5 minutes until the edges of the sugar are just beginning to melt. Getting the sugar hot before you incorporate it helps it dissolve into the egg whites more quickly.
Meanwhile, make sure your stand mixer’s bowl is free of grease, and then add the egg whites. Mix them with the whisk attachment at low speed until bubbles form, then increase the speed to high and beat just until the egg whites hold stiff peaks and you can hold the bowl upside down without them sliding out.
By now, the sugar in the oven should be done. With the mixer going at high speed, add a tablespoon of sugar at a time until it is all incorporated into the meringue mixture, but avoid adding any caramelized chunks from the edges of the baking sheet. Continue mixing at high speed until the mixture is thick and glossy, about 5-7 minutes. If you rub a bit of the meringue between your fingers and still feel the grain of the sugar, not all of it has dissolved and it needs to be beaten a bit more. It it’s smooth, it’s ready for use!
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Dab a small blob of meringue on each corner of a large baking sheet, then line with parchment paper, using the meringue-like glue to stick the paper down.
Finely grind half the pistachios. Gently fold one-half of the ground pistachios along with the rose water into the meringue mixture. Be very careful not to knock out any volume.
Working quickly, spoon the meringue mixture onto the center of the prepared baking sheet and shape into a 10-inch spiky circle with your spoon. Then use the back of the spoon to form a large well in the center of the meringue. Sprinkle with the rest of the ground pistachios and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until the meringue is crisp on the outside and easily lifts off the parchment. Let cool completely on the baking sheet.
Slice the figs into quarters and roughly chop the remaining pistachios. Now you are ready to plate up.
Remove the cooled meringue from the parchment and set it in the center of a serving platter. Spoon the yogurt into the well of the meringue, allowing some to ooze down the sides. Place most of the figs on top of the yogurt and scatter a few around the platter. Drizzle everything with the honey. Finish the masterpiece by scattering the chopped pistachios and fresh rose petals over the top.