Chocolate Orange Pavlova

I’ve been feeling so guilty lately about this poor neglected blog, with its three sad little posts. It’s that time of year though, and Victoria and I have been swamped with exams and final projects/papers. Kaoverii has been busy with an exciting new venture of her own as well, so this little side project of ours has taken a backseat. I had a little down time today, and decided to knock out two birds with one stone, make dinner for my family and make a quick dessert to blog about as well.

Victoria and I make no secret of our love for Whole Foods, we talk about it all the time, and oftentimes we will go out of our way just to peruse it. That’s right, we take dedicated Whole Foods trips for fun. Some might say that’s crazy, but those people have probably never been to Whole Foods. It’s magical inside, with heirloom tomatos and other gorgeous produce piled high, beautifully packaged snacks, sustainable seafood, humanely raised meat and poultry, and don’t even get me started on that bulk section. Forbidden black rice, red quinoa, and organic aborio rice? I could write poems about how much I love that place. This is getting  totally off track though, the point is when I went last month to buy ingredients to make Valentine’s dinner for my boyfriend (it was a cheese and charcuterie platter followed by dungness crab and tomato fennel risotto, in case you were curious), I came across a heap of Sumo mandarins.

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Are they called Sumo Mandarins because they look like sumo wrestlers with their little buns?

I had never heard of Sumo mandarins before, but I wasn’t much in the mood to lug around extra groceries by public transit and I still had to go to Granville Island so after picking two up and pretending they were boobs (What? You can’t deny that’s totally what they look like with that little top knot) I put them down and went on my way. However, when I came across them again earlier this week, I indulged my curiosity and bought a couple. So today when I decided to make dessert I figured it was the perfect time to test these out. I needed something easy though, because I still have an absurd amount of homework to do and decided a pavlova fit the bill. I had been craving meringue anyway ever since I made them for a friend’s surprise party last week. I’ve noticed that people have this perception that meringues are finnicky, but they’re really dead simple. I’ve found that the key to a good crispy-on-the-outside-marshmallowy-soft-on-the-inside meringue is low, slow heat. A convection oven produces better results for me, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have access to one.

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Pavlova’s were invented in New Zealand and named for famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.

Chocolate Orange Pavlova
serves 4-6

Chocolate Meringue
3 large egg whites, room temperature
110g caster sugar
30g confectioner’s sugar
30g dutch cocoa powder

Grand Marnier and Vanilla Fresh Cream
250ml heavy cream
Zest of half an orange
Splash of Grand Marnier, or other orange liqueur
Vanilla sugar*, to taste

One orange, membranes and seeds removed
Orange zest for garnish

Preheat the oven to 170°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper

In a clean, dry bowl (this is important if you’ve never made meringue, moisture cannot come in contact with your egg whites, a damp bowl will cause it to fail) whip your egg whites on med-high speed until soft peaks start to form, then start adding the sugar one tablespoon at at time until your peaks becomes stiff and glossy. Then sift your cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar into the bowl and gently fold it into the meringue. Scoop it out onto your cookie sheet and form it into a neat little rounded pile. Bake for 2 hours and then let it cool in a cracked oven (I keep mine open with a wooden spoon) for another hour minimum to allow the meringue to fully dry out.

Right before you’re ready to serve it, whip up your heavy cream with the orange zest, Grand Marnier and vanilla sugar. Pile it onto your chocolate meringue and top it off with the orange segments and orange zest (which isn’t pictured, because I forgot, whoooops!) Serve immediately.

*Whenever I use vanilla beans in a recipe, I like to store the leftover pods in a jar of sugar. Things like fresh cream really showcase the lovely vanilla scent and little flecks of vanilla bean in it, but if you don’t have any regular sugar will be just fine.

This pavlova was amazing, crispy on the outside and the inside was dark and fudgy. The lightness of the whipped cream complemented it’s richness perfectly, I tend to go easy on the sugar in my cream and I would suggest the same for this particular recipe, but it’s all personal preference. The sumo mandarins ended up being a little bit too sweet for this recipe in my opinion, next time I’d probably use them in a salad with a champagne vinaigrette or something and just stick to regular navel oranges for this pavlova.

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I instagram pictures of Whole Foods inventory, this I’ll admit is borderline insane.

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