Jun 11, 2017

A Dessert Created For Anna Pavlova

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Anna Pavlova in 'The Dying Swan', Saint Petersburg, Russia, 1905
Anna Pavlova, was considered the greatest ballerina of her time. She was a dancing sensation across America, Europe, and the UK in 1911. It is believed that at that time a dessert was created in homage to her, a light, airy dessert called 'Strawberries Pavlova'.  It was a marriage of a delicate crisp meringue, sort of like the tutu she is wearing in the photo, with a soft sweet marshmallow center. It was then served with sweetened whipped cream and topped with fresh strawberries. Other countries like Australia and New Zealand also claim to have invented this beautiful dessert, using kiwi fruit, strawberries, blue berries and other fresh fruit as a topping.

To my knowledge, Anna Pavlova never visited Hawaii, so I created a tropical version of 'Pavlova' using local Hawaiian Mango. It has a crispy meringue shell that is filled with sweetened whipped cream. It is then crowned with slices of sweet fresh mango. The whole thing is then drizzled with fresh lilikoi (passion fruit) pulp, creating a crispy sweet, yet tangy dessert that's easy to make.

Mango Pavlova
5 egg whites
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 pint heavy cream
1 tablespoon powered sugar
3 ripe mango, peeled and sliced
parchment paper

Preheat oven to 300˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw 6, 3-inch circles on the parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gradually add in the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition. Beat until thick and glossy. Blend the vanilla, cornstarch and lemon juice together, gently fold it into the beaten egg whites.

With a large spoon, scoop the mixture inside the circles drawn on the parchment paper. Working from the center, spread mixture toward the outside edge, building up the edge slightly, leaving a depression in the center.

Bake for 1 hour, then turn the oven off and let the meringues cool in the oven for at least 1 hour, but overnight is better, with the door left ajar.

In a small bowl, beat heavy cream with powdered sugar until stiff peaks form; set aside. Remove the paper, and place meringues on serving plates. Fill the center of the meringue with whipped cream, and top with mango slices topped with fresh passion-fruit pulp, with or without the seeds. Serve immediately!

Note: Use room temperature eggs whites that have absolutely no yolk in them when broken.

Makes 6 servings.

For more information about the history of this dessert, click here.

Jun 2, 2017

A Tropical Dessert For Mango Lovers!

Coconut Sweet Rice with Hawaiian Mango
This simple Thai dessert is made with short grain sticky rice, seasoned with sweet coconut milk and served with juicy chunks of Hawaiian mango... this will make a mango lover out of you.

Sweet Hawaiian Mango.
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1 cup short grain white rice
1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk, blended well to incorporate fat, divided
1/2 cup white sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch
a pinch of cinnamon
2 perfectly ripe Hawaiian mangoes (about 6 ounces), peeled, pitted, and sliced into chunks
Toasted coconut for garnish

Procedure for cooking the sticky rice:
In a large bowl, cover rice with water by several inches and let stand at room temperature for 5 hours or as much as overnight.

Drain rice and put it in a heavy saucepan and 1 3/4 cups of water. Bring water to a boil. Cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and reduce heat to low, and simmer, without uncover-ing the pot. Cook until rice is tender, about 18 minutes (taste it to be sure). At this point, remove pan from heat. Uncover, place a kitchen towel over pan to keep moisture from dripping onto rice. Cover tightly with lid. Let rice stand, covered, for 10-15 minutes to firm up.

Procedure for cooking the coconut cream:
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring half the coconut milk to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Whisk in 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt until dissolved.

Transfer cooked rice to a large heatproof bowl and pour coconut milk mixture on top (it will look like too much liquid). Stir well to combine, cover with plastic, and let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, clean saucepan and add remaining coconut milk to it. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with a couple of teaspoons of the hot coconut milk and stir to form a slurry. Whisk cornstarch slurry into the remaining coconut milk, then simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of cinnamon, until dissolved. Keep coconut milk warm.

When ready to serve, mound coconut rice onto plates and arrange chunks of sweet Hawaiian mango alongside. Drizzle thickened coconut milk over rice, garnished with toasted coconut. Serve at room temperature as soon as possible.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: The coconut sticky rice is made to complement the mango, not the other way around. The Hawaiian mango must be at its peak of ripeness. If the mango is tart, unripe, fibrous, or tasteless, don't bother to make this dessert.