Hey you! Fed up with the ongoing rain? Desperate for some sunshine in your life? Then let me introduce you to the most summery dessert ever – a plate of golden sunshine: a mango pavlova!
No matter how crap the weather gets, there’s always a remedy: any recipe involving mango! Mango is one of my all-time favourite fruits. In Thailand I stuffed myself with heavenly ‘sticky coconut rice with mango’ on a daily basis. The combination of creamy coconut and mango really is hard to beat.
So, when I came back to the UK, I was still truly inspired by this heavenly combination. I bought all the ingredients needed to make sticky rice with mango, but somehow I never really got round to making it. You know how it is: back from a holiday, still buzzing with all the memories, desperate to recreate the experiences – but somehow it ain’t the same at home…
That’s why I decided to come up with a dessert that reflects the flavours of sticky rice with mango, but that’s completely different. Call it a play on my favourite Thai dessert, mixed with antipodean flair: a coconut pavlova with cinnamon-infused mango. It can’t get better than this!
So, let’s get down to the details of this superb and easy dessert!
A pavlova is basically a meringue topped with cream and fruit. Now, I hear some of you say “boy, this looks soooooo pretty, I bet it’s soooooo hard to make!”. Well, it ain’t. Meringues are in fact super easy to make! All you need is a bit of patience, since they need to bake in the oven for about 2 hours at a very low temperature. This will give them their crispy shell, but keep them chewy inside.
As for the shape: yes, it may look tricky, but it isn’t. You need a piping bag fitted with a star-shaped nozzle. Start by piping a spiral circle (starting in the middle, then piping in a spiral shape around the middle, so that it becomes a round spiral). Make it roughly as big as the inside of your hand. Then, pipe the outer “crown” layer: put the nozzle down on the outside of the disc, and pipe while doing an upward movement, ending on the top of the disc. This will give you little spikey bits, which will create the crown effect.
If that’s too daunting, just take a large spoon and chuck a couple of spoonfuls of mixture onto a baking tray, and flatten to a roundish disc with the back of your spoon. Simple as that! It may not look as fanciful, but it will definitely taste just as yummy. Plus, the rustic style is hip! Right? I mean, come on, Jamie Oliver wouldn’t start piping out these fancy crown discs, he’d just make some plain ‘bad boys’ that would taste just as good!
So, whatever meringue style you choose, you’ll love this dessert. Trust me, it’s one for the books!
Especially since it’s eternally versatile. I added toasted coconut to the meringue here, but if you don’t like coconut, just leave it out. Once you have your meringue base, top it with crême fraîche or Greek yoghurt and then add anything else you like. I’ve made it with raspberries, with rhubarb compote, even with chestnut cream (and it becomes a sort of Mont Blanc). A pavlova is just absolutely amazing… Amen!
Coconut Mango Pavlovas
For the meringues
4 tbsp dessicated coconut
4 egg whites, at room temperature
For the topping
1 tub crême fraîche or Greek yoghurt
1 packet vanilla sugar or 1 tsp vanilla essence and 1 tsp sugar
Start by making the meringues. Preheat the oven to 90° celsius.
Toast the dessicated coconut in a pan until lightely golden. Put aside until later.
Place the egg whites into a metal bowl and whisk with an electric whisk until soft peaks begin to form. Still whisking, add the sugar gradually, a couple of spoonfuls at a time, whisking for 20-30 seconds between each addition. Continue whisking until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is stiff and shiny.
Add the toasted coconut to the mix and whisk for another few seconds until well mixed and stiff. The meringue mixture needs to be so stiff that it holds its shape.
Transfer the meringue mix into a piping bag, mounted with a star-shaped nozzle.
Pipe the meringue onto a baking tray lined with baking paper: start by piping a spiral circle (starting in the middle, then piping in a spiral shape around the middle, so that it becomes a round spiral). Make it roughly as big as the inside of your hand. Then, pipe the outer “crown” layer: put the nozzle down on the outside of the disc, and pipe while doing an upward movement, ending on the top of the disc. This will give you little spikey bits, which will create the crown effect.
Bake for 2 hours or until they are dry to the touch and still white in colour. They will at that point still be chewy on the inside. Alllow to cool completely before removing from the baking paper. (At this stage, the meringues can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days).
Now make the topping: Mix the crême fraîche or Greek yoghurt with the vanilla sugar. Set aside until later.
Peel the mangoes, cut the flesh off the stone and cut into litte cubes.
Top each meringue nest with a generous dollop of crême fraîche, then scatter a handful of mango cubes onto each meringue and sprinkle with cinnamon. The pavlova should be filled only shortly before serving as otherwise it will get soggy and lose its crispness.