Challenge Book #18 - Ginger Lemon Eton Mess
I have a confession to make. You know I am Australian and all, right. Well....I am afraid that I......cannot make pavlova to save my life. There I said. I'm a national disgrace. If you never hear from me again I have been bundled onto the nearest means of transport and shipped to parts unknown.
Pavlova is Australia's national desert (mitts off Kiwis ;-}). My aunts seem to churn them out effortlessly. There is a pavlova at any family occasion. Me, not so much. But not for lack of trying.
I've tried everything. Recipes from all the tried and tested Australian cooks - Margaret Fulton, Stephanie Alexander, Women's Weekly. Every tip and trick and bit of advice has been put into practice. And I've come up with nothing. They always seem to spread out so they are very thin and pancake like. Most often they are tough and sticky and plain awful.
I'm not giving up though. I will crack this eventually.
In my latest attempt I turned to an overseas chef - Jamie Oliver to be precise. Cook with Jamie has a coconut, banana and passionfruit pavolova that looks simply mouthwatering. I had to have a go.
But at the last moment I swerved off in a different direction. In discussing meringue's Jamie talks about the different flavours that can be added. I was seized by the idea of making a ginger and lemon pavlova. Served with strawberries I thought it would be absolutely delicious.
So I dived in. And well, as you can see above, I got the usual result. A flat pancake of a pavlova. At least it was marshmallowy on the inside and only slightly sticky. That's an improvement, believe it or not.
The thing is, it tasted FANTASTIC!! The heat of ginger with a tang of lemon all wrapped up in sweet cripsy and marshmallowy meringue. YUM!!
So what do you do when life gives you a deliciously sorry excuse for a pav? You make a mess that's what. An Eton mess. A gorgeous concoction of broken up meringue, cream and strawberries. It's all served in a bowl. So what the meringue looks like is no never mind.
I served it to some friends for lunch. It was a smash hit!!!! Not only the taste, but it was a bit of a novelty. We Australians are conservative with our pavlovas. The meringue is always vanilla and its always served with whipped cream and some combination of banana, kiwifruit, strawberries and passionfruit.
I didn't measure the ginger and lemon additions to my pav that closely. I've included approximations in the recipe. I actually used crystallised ginger, but I think its sugar coating may have contributed to my sad result. So I have suggested using stem ginger. I would be reluctant to add too much more lemon juice, but I think the zest and ginger can be increased or decreased as you like.
Cook with Jamie is Challenge Book #18 in the KJ Wants a Kitchen Aid Challenge. This is where I have to make a recipe from every cookbook I own before I can buy a new one.
Ginger and Lemon Eton Mess
(adapted from Cook with Jamie)
6 large egg whites
300gm castor sugar
zest 2 lemons
1 tbspn lemon juice
2 tbspn stem ginger, finely chopped
2 tspn ground ginger
Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually add the sugar. Beat until the sugar is fully dissolved into the egg whites. Rub the mix between two fingers. It should be completely smooth. If you can feel any grains keep beating. It may take 7-10 minutes.
Gently fold in the ginger, lemon zest and juice.
Heap the mixture into a mound on a lined baking tray. Bake in a 150C oven for about an hour. The meringue should be crisp on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside.
Let the meringue cool completly. Break it up into small pieces. Divide into bowls. Top generously with whipped cream and strawberries.