Coming back to Indiana after school reminds me a bit of those cartoon characters running across a plateau, as they charge off the edge, only to look down to find empty space as they suddenly plummet mid-air. I had been planning every minute, writing up to-do lists, running between meetings, pulling late nights on essays, at the paper, then suddenly...nothing. The pressing deadlines are all over, and everything looks a little strange without the minute-by-minute tunnel vision I always develop during finals week.
Restlessness sets in by the second day or so, after I've caught up on sleep, but it soon becomes lethargy. The little errands and loose ends I pushed to the side at school while powering through my work suddenly seem kind of daunting, things that can be put off a day, or two, or longer. The days all meld together, anyways.
I've found that I need a certain amount of stress and pressure to be happy. I scroll through the recipes I've laid aside while at school, the more intricate ones that require equipment, but somehow they don't seem as interesting as when I would snatch a couple of minutes between classes, in the middle of papers to guiltily browse Pinterest for food photos. The kitchen is right there--no tramping up and downstairs, crossing the courtyard in the cold juggling cooking equipment--but if feels farther.
This is all to say that I should have posted this recipe about two weeks ago, but somehow I just never got around to it. I had meant to make pavlova for a while; Lynette, my roommate, would always hopefully ask if I would make this, but I never had access to a mixer at school. The baking was easy, but the process of writing up this post just seemed kind of daunting.
I do apologize for withholding this recipe from you, though: it looks like a somewhat unremarkable pile of fluffy white stuff, but it actually is a complex combination of texture and flavor: the delicate coconut whipped cream contrasts with the sweet, crunchy meringue with its chewy interior, which are enhanced by the tart blueberry sauce. It's a wonderful summer dessert, cool and sweet, melting on your tongue into nothingness.
Blueberry Coconut Pavlovas
Click here for the printable recipe.
Yields: 10 individual pavlovas
For the Pavlova shells
4 egg whites
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cornstarch
For the Filling
1 cup fresh blueberries, plus extra to garnish
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest, plus extra to garnish
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 can (14 oz) coconut cream (not coconut milk), refrigerated overnight
¼ cup powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 200 F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, or nonstick foil.
Make the pavlova shells. Beat the egg whites at low speed with a hand mixer or stand mixer until foamy. Whisk in the cream of tartar, and continue to beat while gradually adding the sugar and salt.
Beat the egg whites at low speed for 2 minutes, medium speed for 2 minutes, and high for another 4-5 until stiff, glossy peaks develop. (If you’re using a stand mixer, this will probably take slightly less time). Gradually increasing the speed allows the egg whites to achieve greater volume, and will create a more stable meringue.
Beat in the vanilla extract, followed by the cornstarch.
With two spoons, or a piping bag, dollop 10 even mounds of meringue onto the cookie sheets. Use a spoon to make an indent at the center of each mound.
Bake for 1 hour, until the outside of the pavlova shells are dry. Turn off the heat, and let the pavlovas sit in the oven for another 30 minutes. Take the pavlovas out of the oven, and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, the blueberry cream filling. Place 1 cup blueberries, water, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook for 15 minutes. The blueberries should form a dark purple sauce. Press the sauce through a fine mesh strainer with the back of a spoon or spatula. Discard the pulp. Let the sauce cool completely.
Open the can of coconut cream and scoop out the thick white cream on top, leaving any liquid at the bottom of the can. Whip the cream for 2-3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Whip in the powdered sugar, followed by ¼ cup of the blueberry sauce.
Fill each pavlova shell with about 3 tablespoons of the blueberry cream, and drizzle with the remaining blueberry sauce. Top with fresh blueberries and a sprinkle of lemon zest. Serve immediately.