A Fresh Apple Pavlova


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Fresh Apple Pavlova with Lemon Cream, Honey Creme Fraiche Whipped Cream, Pomegranate, and Caramelized Apple Skin.

I love crunching into a good apple. Most desserts that use apples call for them to be cooked in some way, and even though they gain a lot of earthy goodness down that road, they lose that sprightly crunch. So, I devised this pavlova to try to incorporate it into a dessert.

I considered experimenting with the bottle of ascorbic acid that I picked up in New York to prevent the apples from oxidizing, but since I usually like the tang of lemon juice on the outside of an apple slice, I decided to use lemon juice to control oxidation and to try to incorporate more lemon flavor into the rest of the dessert. The other elements came to mind as good companions.

And the result… It’s probably the most intense fresh fruit-based dessert that I’ve ever had. It manages to be very sweet and very tart. The lemon, apple, and meringue flavors were very strong… and all but covered up the pomegranate and honey creme fraiche whipped cream flavors. At least the pomegranate pips and HCFWCream contribute very well to the overall texture — which was like a great cloud enveloping the turgid bits of fruit.

One nice effect was that the caramelized apple skins and the meringue contributed to a kind of caramelized apple flavor that was a little lighter and more complex than the norm. I liked that.

Overall, though, I think that its major downfall was its rampant sweetness… The kind that makes your teeth hurt a little the next day…. Maybe some sort of cake component instead of the meringue would mellow it a bit, but I don’t think the texture would fit in well w/ fresh sliced apples… Maybe just plain whipped cream could be used, and maybe fold it into the lemon cream instead of spooning them on separately. It would be less sugar and less intense lemon, but the cloud structure would be maintained.

Plating-wise…. On the one hand, I like how the colors and scattered design give it a vibrant Autumn theme, with the bits of caramelized apple skins almost like fallen leaves (and the pomegranates like fallen apples, if you feel like making that stretch). On the other hand, it’s very cluttered. That may be the nature of a pavlova, but I think it could still be put together in a way that looks better and eluded me.

Specific Notes:

Apples: I had gorgeous apples on hand from the St. Helena Farmer’s Market for this… Mutsus, Sierra Beauties, Spitzenburgs, Jonagolds, and Hawaiians. I like the idea that every wedge of apple on top could have a different flavor, and that came through.

I just cut them into wedges, and tossed them in a bowl with a little lemon juice to coat them. I did this at the last moment of assembly, since they oxidize eventually.

Lemon Cream: This recipe. Technically, a lemon sabayon, so you get to whisk it like mad over a boiling water bath for about 12 mins.

Oh, and ever thought about using that recipe to make pomegranate curd by substituting Pom juice for the lemon juice? It doesn’t work. Doesn’t set up. And turns purple. And then brownish.

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At least I got to whisk like mad for a total of 24 mins when I decided to make the lemon curd instead… and so helped maintain the pride of my life: my baker’s biceps.

Honey Creme Fraiche Whipped Cream: I whipped 1/2 c cream until it started to set up, added a couple squeezes of Star Thistle honey from the Honey King in Napa, whipped a little more, added 1/4 c creme fraiche, whipped a little more, tasted, added some more honey, and finished whipping it to medium peaks.

Meringue: Baked at low temp for a long time, and then sat in the off oven for a long time. Very easy, but really ties up a home oven.

Pomegranate: To open it, I cut about an inch into the top of it with the tip of my knife, and twisted. You can then pull it open without brutally cutting through the seeds.

Blackberries could have been used instead.

Caramelized Apple Skins: These are super cool, and are like little slivers of caramel scented with apple. They come from a recipe for Apple Puree with Crisp Apple Skin and Spiced Syrup by Claude Colliot in the October edition of Gourmet magazine (so the recipe should be on epicurious.com at some point). I was just after the skins, but you kind of have to go through the whole recipe to get them. But it’s an interesting one — you start by cooking the quartered, unpeeled Gala apples in a lot of sugar on low heat with a cover (kind of similar to a tarte tatin; no butter, though), but you only melt the sugar to a delicious apple-infused clear syrup and the apples until they’re soft. Then you scoop out the pulp (which is mashed with butter), and sprinkle sugar on the skins before baking them until they look caramelized (don’t touch to test) and then they crisp up more out of the oven.

The meringues had about an hour to go in the oven when these were ready to bake, so I kept them submerged in the syrup to prevent them from drying out until I could finish them.

They look like this out of the oven:

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By the way, the apple puree was pretty boring, and I’m bummed that I mixed butter with it, or else I could have blended it with the wonderful syrup and probably water to make a kickin’ apple sorbet.

Other: I originally planned on folding Nocello, a walnut liqueur, into the whipped cream or meringue, but I couldn’t find Nocello. Instead, I discovered this amazing Nocino della Cristina, which was seemed simply too good to do anything but keep it by itself, in a glass alongside the plate (article with cocktail recipes here). I’d thought that the bold walnut and kick of bright spice flavors would go well with the pavlova, but in practice, it seemed like it would have been too much to added yet another predominantly sweet element to the dessert. So, the Nocino stands alone for now.

After the jump are just pictures of my experiments with plating…

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5 Responses to “A Fresh Apple Pavlova”

  1. fattypr Says:

    MMM! That looks So good!
    And I think that honey whipped cream sounds awesome. I can’t imagine why we never thought to do that, since we love honey so much in my house; we usu just whip our cream overloaded with sugar (which is also quite good).

  2. Natalie Says:

    Believe it or not, your apple recipe just inspired me to do something with Pumpkin and Johnny Walker Red. Suh-WEEET~~!!

  3. Sweet Napa » Blog Archive » The Bourbon Cupcake Says:

    […] « A Fresh Apple Pavlova […]

  4. Sweet Napa » Blog Archive » Cranberry Curd Tartlets Says:

    […] To deal with the oxidation issue this time, I tossed them with the apple syrup leftover from the caramelized apple skins in the Fresh Apple Pavlova. It was a very temporary solution, though — they turned a bit translucent after a while. […]

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    […] pavlova version of last year’s cherry-rhubarb cobbler…. as look forward to remaking my Fresh Apple Pavlova in the fall from almost two years […]

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