Sweet Potato Pavlova with Burnt Honey
Sweet Potato Pavlova with Burnt Honey was inspired by my love for pumpkin spice. It began when I visited Switzerland in the fall. Seeing the fall for the first time – as my home in the desert doesn’t have “fall” in its seasons – came to me as a pleasant surprise. I fell in love with autumn and the changing colors of green leaves to warm color. I also fell in love with fall’s seasonal foods, including the flavor of pumpkin spice. When we returned home I baked pumpkin pie with pumpkin spice, and ever since it has been my favorite seasoning for all fall desserts. In my curiosity, I tried it in apple cakes, apple pie, pumpkin brownies, pumpkin cheesecakes and loved them all.
In my newest experiment I have tried something different: spiced sweet potato curd in a pavlova with burnt honey sauce, whipped cream, and toasted pecans, truly warm flavors for fall.
For the pavlova:
- 4 large egg whites
- 200 grams (7 ounces) superfine sugar
- 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) pumpkin spice*
- 10 ml (2 teaspoons) cornstarch
- 10 ml (2 teaspoons) white wine vinegar
For the sweet potato curd:
- 245 grams (9 ounces) sweet potato puree
- 200 grams (7 ounces) superfine sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) orange juice
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) pumpkin spice
- 114 grams (4 ounces) butter
For the burnt honey sauce:
- 118 ml (1/2 cup) honey
- 237 ml (1 cup) heavy cream
To assemble and decorate:
- 476 grams (2 cups) whipping cream
- 30 grams (1 ounce) pecans, toasted and chopped
- 30 ml (2 tablespoons) chocolate shavings
*You can purchase pumpkin spice or make your own by combining 5 ml (1 teaspoon) ground cinnamon, 5 ml (1 teaspoon) ground ginger, and 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) freshly ground nutmeg.
- For the pavlova: Preheat oven to 160°C (350°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and trace two circles on it using a 20 cm (8-inch) cake pan as a guide.
2. Whip the egg whites until thick and frothy. Add the sugar 15 ml (1 tablespoon) at a time, whipping well between each addition to disssolve the sugar; do not rush this step or your meringue will be grainy.* Once the nsugar is entirely incorporated, mix the cornstarch and vinegar in a bowl, add to the meringue, and whip to combine.
3. Pour the meringue onto the parchment paper inside the circles you have traced. Spread it out to the edges of the circle to form a round mound; you can make this as rustic or as neat as you like. Put into the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 120°C (250°F). Bake until the pavlova is crispy on the outside and firm to the touch, not wet, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. It should lift off of the baking paper easily. Turn off the oven and leave the pavlova in there until it has completely cooled, about 1 hour. Do not take it out right away or the temperature change may cause it to crack.
4. For the sweet potato curd: In a medium saucepan combine all ingredients except the butter. Place over medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved completely. Add the butter in small pieces, letting each one melt before adding the next. Continue to hear until the curd is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If you can draw a line across the back of a spoon without it running together, it is ready. Let it cool completely, then cover and refrigerate until needed.
5. For the burnt honey sauce: In a medium saucepan boil the honey until it is medium-dark brown in color and just starting to smoke (between the soft and hard ball stages). Stir frequently at first, and consistently as it starts to darken. If there are heavy clumps at the beginning, stir constantly until the clumps melt. Remove from the heat, let cool for a minute or two before stirring in the heavy cream. Cool completely before putting it into a container to store in the refrigerator.
6. To assemble and decorate: Whip the cream until soft peaks form. If there are any big dips, cracks or cavities in your pavlova, you can use whipped cream to fill the gaps. Once you have a nice level surface, spoon the sweet potato curd on top and use a knife to push it out to the edges. Generously top with whipped cream. Drizzle with burnt honey sauce, and sprinkle with toasted pecans and chocolate shavings.
* To test that the sugar has dissolved, rub some meringue between your fingers. It should be smooth and not gritty. If it is gritty, keep whisking.