After a long weekend of relentless typing: book revisions, cookbook reviews, blog posts and social media marketing plans, all I want to do is lay supine on the couch and dip a cold spoon into a bowl of something sweet. Right now, this is where you’ll find me — thick in the business of sugar consumption. Thrilled to be delivering against a deadline. Grateful for creating ideas and hatching plans for the things I believe in, for the people I respect and love.
For the fig + plum compote: Recipe courtesy of Joanne Chang’s Flour, Too
3 ripe black or red plums
10 or 12 ripe figs
1 cup plum wine*
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
For the meringues: Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit Desserts
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup cane sugar, divided into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
Notes in the Margins: Finding plum wine was an intense, insane journey. Quite frankly, I don’t have the patience to troll Japanese speciality shops for an ingredient. I used a sweet white wine (Riesling) instead, but I can also imagine you’d do just as well with a deep, fruity red with cherry bark.
For the compote: Halve and pit the plums, and cut them into slices ¼ inch thick. Trim the stem off each fig and quarter the figs lengthwise. Put the fruit in a heatproof medium bowl. In a small saucepan, combine the wine, granulated sugar, and salt and heat over high heat just to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the syrup thickens slightly. Pour the syrup over the plums and figs and set aside for at least 3 hours, or until cool. (The compote can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring back to room temperature before using.)
For the meringues: Position rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375F degrees. Trace six 2 1/2-inch diameter circles on parchment paper, spacing apart about 2 inches. Invert paper onto baking sheet. In a large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk, beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 4-5 minutes. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, beating until medium-firm peaks form, about 3 minutes. Mix remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Gradually beat sugar-cornstarch mixture into meringue batter, continue beating until very stiff, about 2 minutes. Beat in vinegar for 1 minute. Total beating time should be around 10 minutes. Divide meringues equally among circles, mounding and filling the rounds completely.
Bake meringues for 30 minutes. Turn oven off and keep meringues inside with the door closed for another 30 minutes. Open door slightly and let meringues cool in oven until almost completely dry in center, about 30 minutes longer. Serve with the compote immediately, or store separately in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Assembling the pavlova: Once the meringues have cooled completely, dollop a generous portion of the compote on top of each, making sure you include some of the delicious syrup. Many pavlovas are topped with a generous heap of whipped cream — not my scene. I already find meringues a bit sweet, so adding sugary cream would send me heart racing. If you love your cream, whip it up and add it. Otherwise, this is perfect, as is. Come to think of it, I think this pav would be fabulous crumbled up with the fruit and some Greek yoghurt. WHOA.