A fight to the death and chocolate swirled pavlova

Some marriages are life-long love affairs, full of flowery and undying proclamations of romantic love. Others are like a military alliance, where the couple march steadily along the highway of life, side by side, enjoying common goals with stoic fortitude. Some marriages are simply just endured and others don’t make it at all. Whilst ours has had its bursts of romance and is based on a rock solid friendship, it is probably best described as a prolonged torturous comedic metaphorical fight to the death. The winner of the day is the one who gets in the best joke, at the others expense of course. The final victor will be the last one left standing. I am going to make sure it is me.

This pavlova was made for a friends pre-Easter soirĂ©e. The Yak was a big fan of the grown-up savoury spiciness of this dessert. The soft buttery pears, the chewy meringue, the tangy sour cream and the sweet heat of the gingery syrup was a food revelation. Happy fifteenth wedding anniversary Yak. In the face of the fear that I won’t do better at this late stage of the game; I guess you’ll do.

CHOCOLATE SWIRL PAVLOVA WITH MAPLE POACHED PEARS

WHAT YOU NEED
6 small pears, peeled (I used rather large Corella pears but smaller pears would have looked better on the pavlova)
2 cup (250)ml maple syrup
5cm piece ginger, sliced
6 fresh bay leaves (I didn’t have any fresh, so I didn’t use any.)
6 egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 cups caster sugar (330g)
1/ tsp white vinegar
1 tsp cornflour
2 1/2 tbls cocoa powder
300-400g creme fraiche
1 tsp pure icing sugar, sifted

HOW YOU DO IT
To make the maple pears: place pears, maple syrup, ginger, bay leaves and 3 cups water (750ml) in a saucepan.
Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then cover the circle with a circle of baking paper and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. (My bigger pears took about 1 hour and fifteen minutes.) Remove pears from the liquid.
Discard half the liquid, reserving the bay and ginger. Return the remaining liquid, bay leaves and ginger to a deep saucepan and place over high heat.
Boil the liquid for 30 minutes or until thick and syrupy. Cool completely and set aside.
To make the pavlova, preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place baking paper on a large tray and draw an 18 cm circle.
Beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt to firm peaks.
Keep beating the egg white on low adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time.
Once all of the sugar is added, continue beating on a medium speed until the meringue is no long gritty to the touch and is stiff and glossy.
Fold through the vinegar, cornflour and 2 heaped tsps of the cocoa.
Spread into the prepared tray and sprinkle another 2 tsps of the cocoa over the pavlova and using a palette knife, swirl the cocoa through the pavlova.
Place it in the oven and drop the temperature down to 130 (120 fan forced) and bake for one hour. Rotate every 20 minutes to ensure even baking and colouring.
Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the pavlova cool down in the oven for at least 3 hours.
Combine the sour cream, icing sugar and remaining 1 tsp cocoa and spread over the pavlova. Halve (or quarter) the pears and arrange over the top. Served drizzled with the reduced maple syrup and scatter with the bay leaves. (If you had any.)

A Cheergerm adaption of a recipe from the April 2016 Delicious magazine. I changed the pavlova method