Most of the time, I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to dessert. I’m usually tickled by a Mars bar that’s spent some time in the freezer or a sampling of wine gums (I’m a little trashy when it comes to sugar). But every now and then I get a little ambitious and, in this case, girlie about my post-dinner sugar rush. Sometimes you just need something pink, frothy and feminine and these Coconut Rose Water Mini Pavlovas are the result of that need. They’re basically the dessert equivalent of tulle.
The inspiration for these Coconut Rose Water Mini Pavlovas struck nearly five years ago when I decided to take a chance on a rose macaron at Nadege, one of my favorite bakeries. I’ve always been drawn to rose water as an ingredient because it sounded like something out of a fairytale, but I also feared that rose water would taste like biting into a bar of soap. But on this random day, bolstered by the fact I had a whole bunch of differently flavored macarons to console myself with if things didn’t work out, I ordered that rose macaron. Far from being soapy, I thought the macaron tasted, well, pretty. It had all the light and buttery hallmarks of your usual delicious macaron but with this intriguing burst of floral flavors that actually enhanced the richness of the macaron’s buttercream center. I don’t think I even understood how much I liked it in that moment, it was so different from any other dessert I had ever had, but I found myself daydreaming about this otherworldly macaron for days, weeks, and months afterward.
Flash forward to last Christmas. My partner and I received a tagine from my parents, which set off a three-month long exploration of Moroccan cuisine. A whole new inventory of ingredients started making their way into our pantry and rose water was one of them. We may have bought the rose water for a lamb shank tagine recipe but I knew that it would find it’s way into a dessert before long. I had to recreate that blissful experience I had at Nadege in my own home.
I knew whichever dessert I chose to integrate the rose water into would have to be delicate, beautiful and as pretty as rose water tasted. But I also knew that dessert had to have a weight to it or it would run the risk of being perfumey. I opted for mini pavlovas because as we discussed they are the equivalent of edible tulle. What could be prettier than that? And with that, these Coconut Rose Water Mini Pavlovas were born.
Five years in the making and all dressed up for company, these Coconut Rose Water Mini Pavlovas were well worth the wait. So the next time you’re feeling like getting in touch with your feminine side or you don’t relish the thought of serving dinner guests a round of frozen Mars bars, give these Coconut Rose Water Mini Pavlovas a try.
- 3 egg whites, room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 teaspoons edible gold luster (optional)
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 5 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon rose water
- 2-3 drops red food colouring
- Preheat oven to 200?F.
- Place egg whites and sugar in a medium-sized stainless steel mixing bowl.
- Choose a medium saucepan that can accommodate the mixing bowl without allowing it to touch the bottom of the pan. The two should form a tight seal - this is called a double boiler.
- Fill the saucepan a quarter of the way full with water and place over high heat. When the water comes to a boil, fit the mixing bowl onto the saucepan and reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Whisk the egg white mixture constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixtures comes up to a temperature of 150?F. Be careful not to cook the egg whites - make sure there is some room between the bottom of the mixing bowl and the boiling water.
- Once the sugar is dissolved, pour the egg white mixture into a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the cream of tartar and whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form - about 3 minutes.
- With the mixer still running, add the coconut extract to the egg whites.
- Place whipped egg whites in a pastry bag fitted with the pastry tip of your choice (I used Wilton 1E ). Pipe meringues in a circular motion, building up the sides until they form a nest-like shape. They should be roughly four-inches in diameter.
- Bake the meringue nests for 1 hour.
- Without disturbing the nests, turn the oven off and leave them to cool off and dry out for another hour or two.
- Add sugar, salt and half-and-half to a small saucepan and place it over medium heat. Bring the cream to a gentle boil, whisking constantly until the sugar is fully dissolved. Reduce the heat to low.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl whisk the egg yolks and cornstarch together until the mixture turns a pale yellow.
- Mix a ladle full of the cream mixture in with the egg and cornstarch paste to temper the eggs. Add the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan of cream and sugar and bring it to a light boil, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, rose water and food colouring.
- Chill the pastry cream for at least 3 hours. Once the cream is chilled, place it in a pastry bag and pipe a small amount into the cooled coconut meringue nests.
- Garnish the Coconut Rose Water Mini Pavlovas with coconut chips and rose petals if desired.