Brown Sugar Pavlova with Caramel & Apples

Spiced brown sugar pavlova topped with apple cider whipped cream, pistachio caramel and fresh apples, made sheet pan style for easy slicing and serving!

 

Can you tell I’m ready for fall? lol. Let’s face it, summer 2020 hasn’t been the greatest. Aside from all the social distancing, it’s been crazy hot in DC and even going out for walks around the neighborhood has been uncomfortable. I am twiddling my fingers for sweater season, mugs of hot cider, and pomegranates and of course, my favorite fall activities: pumpkin and apple picking! Speaking of apples…

 

 

rave apple sliced dipped into pistachio caramelsliced rave apples and pistachio caramel sauce

Pistachio Caramel Sauce for Apple Dipping

We all know apples and caramel go together like pb & j. But remember as a kid how much you loved apple slices dipped in peanut butter? I made a peanut butter caramel awhile back which combined the two faves and vowed to try it with other nuts. The pistachio variation is by far my favorite. However, if you’ve been here awhile you might know that fall (and winter) is when I cider everrrything: cheesecake, ice cream, meringue, cookies, marshmallows…etc. Once you make a basic caramel sauce you’ll add a bit of a nut butter, or reduced (boiled) cider. Holy moly, it’s wonderful! So much tastier than a basic caramel sauce.

 

The perfect pavlova

Originally I made mini pavlovas for the caramel and apples, and twice I used the traditional method of adding sugar to whipped whites, but my sugar wasn’t dissolving and I was getting a grainy texture post-bake (IDK why – it’s not like this is my first meringue!). I then turned to the Swiss method which I found in Ottolenghi’s Sweet; heating the sugar and eggs together until the sugar dissolves and then whipping. It worked much better for me, although I still got cracks (which tbh are pretty! But I was after perfection here). This was possibly due to my slightly hotter than standard oven, or the fact that I was whipping it to very stiff peaks. After making the domed one you see in these pics, I woke up the next morning and instinctively knew that it would work better spread out (and I’d have more real estate for this delicious topping) so I made it sheet pan style! 

A funny story: the sheet-pan pavlova in the photos was the one that baked up absolutely perfect. I was ecstatic that after 3 days and 5 pavlovas, I had finally succeeded in making one that hadn’t cracked and had a super smooth exterior (it was also incredibly delicious!). It had baked for 2 hours at 225, then cooled for another 2 with just the light on (don’t open that oven door!). And then, while I was reading to the girls in another room, my husband began making lunch and pre-heated the oven… with the cooled pavlova inside. I only heard the ‘beep!’ after it had reached 375. I launched myself to the kitchen, roared at him about this being THE ONE and pulled it out – but it was probably too late, it had begun cracking from being exposed to such a high heat. Don’t worry, I forgave him… an hour later, lol.

 

pavlova with whipped cream on top

pavlova covered in rave apples

sliced apple pistachio caramel pavlova

Sheet-pan style pavlova

I don’t know if this is a thing yet, but if not I have to tell you it should be! Here’s why you should make your pavlova sheet pan: it’s easier to shape – you don’t have to worry about how to make a perfectly gorgeous dome; it’s easier to add toppings (you get more topping per-slice this way too!); and it’s SO much easier to slice and serve. In fact, with the apples I got such perfect slices (pictured) I felt like I was a pastry chef at a high end restaurant, lol.

 

sheet pan meringue and sliced rave apples

sheet pan meringue covered in whipped cream and sliced apples

Steps to make the apple pistachio caramel pavlova

  1. Make the pavlova (whisk eggs and sugar over a bain marie; whip to medium-stiff peaks, add spices; bake and cool it)
  2. Make the caramel (cook sugar and water until caramelized, add heavy cream and a few other ingredients)
  3. Make the whipped cream (whip heavy cream to soft peaks)
  4. Slice the Rave® apples, let soak in salt water for 10 mins to avoid browning, then drain.
  5. Assemble the layers: whipped cream, apples, caramel, nuts, etc.

Substitutions and Ingredients

Pavlova

Eggs: You could make a vegan pavlova with aquafaba but I haven’t tried it myself.

Sugar: I do half granulated and half brown (dark or light) and don’t recommend going all brown as there would be too much moisture which would affect the meringue.

Vinegar & cornstarch: Any vinegar is fine. I use apple cider vinegar because it complements the rest of my flavors. The vinegar and cornstarch are necessary to keep the center soft and marshmallow like. For the cornstarch you can use tapioca instead.

Spices: mine is a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger but you can use a combination to your liking. Just don’t add more than 2 teaspoons spices.

Whipped Cream

Heavy cream: If you put a can of coconut cream in the fridge, it should be able to whip up like heavy cream.

Boiled Cider: You can buy this on Amazon or via KAF. Or you can do what I do: make your own by boiling a half gallon of cider down to about 1 cup (on high, for about 2 hours).

Sugar: Brown (light or dark) or granulated is fine. You could also sweeten this with maple syrup instead.

Caramel: The only ingredient you can substitute for is the nut butter; use peanut butter, almond, hazelnut, etc. Or of course, the boiled cider.

Apples: If you are making this when they are in season,  (early August – September), Rave® apples are the one! If it’s later, aim for a tart, firm apple.

 

What’s so special about this recipe?

  1. Have you ever had a brown sugar meringue? Oh gosh, it’s so much yummier than a traditional all white. Brown sugar adds moisture and notes of caramel in an otherwise boring (almost eggy) meringue. I could eat this thing pre-bake!
  2. Spiced pavlova: cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. I got out my fall (some might say pumpkin pie spices) and added them to make this an incredibly tasty and warm meringue, not plain-tasting in any way.
  3. The pavlova EASY and my tips and tricks will ensure you have a beauty on your hands.
  4. Caramel is great but… have you ever tried adding some boiled cider or pistachio butter to it? Either of these will round out the sweetness of the caramel and add a depth of complexity.
  5. You know all those IG pics of pre-baked pies with the apples sliced so beautifully? They never show them post-bake because the apples break down and the dish is not as cute looking… But if you make this, your dish can look that way when you serve it!

 

Spiced Pavlova with Caramel & Apples 

Spiced Brown Sugar Pavlova 

  • 4 egg whites 
  • ½ cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar 
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean scraped 
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon each nutmeg & ginger 
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch 
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 225 F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. If you are planning to make a domed pavlova, trace a 7 inch circle on the parchment paper and flip it over. If you are making it sheet pan style, draw a rectangle the size of half the sheet pan. 
  2. Place egg whites in a heat proof bowl along with the sugars, whisk immediately (if you don’t whisk, the sugar ‘cooks’ the eggs). 
  3. Bring a pot filled ¼ of the way up with water to a simmer and place the bowl over it. Whisk it over the water for about 5-6 minutes, until it’s light and frothy and there are no sugar granules when you press the mix between two fingers. 
  4. Whip the mix on medium for about 4 minutes, until you reach medium to stiff peaks. Right before you are done whipping, add the salt, vanilla, spices, cornstarch and vinegar. Dollop the meringue onto the prepared parchment pan. 
  5. Using an offset spatula shape the meringue: for a dome smooth out the sides and make a slight well in the center. For a sheet pan style, smooth it out flat, it should be about an inch high. 
  6. Bake the pavlova for 1 1/2 hours if it’s sheet pan, 2 hours if it’s domed. Check doneness by touch – if the pavlova is dry to the touch it’s done. Avoid opening the oven as much as possible. At the 2 hour mark, shut off the oven and leave them in for another two hours, or overnight.

Pistachio Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup heavy cream, warmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons pistachio paste butter or boiled apple cider 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Method

  1. In a pot, pour sugar and water. Stir it around very gently to cover the sugar with water. Turn the heat on medium high and don’t stir at all. 
  2. While the sugar caramelizes, warm the cream in the microwave.  
  3. Once the sugar begins to turn brown you can stir it a bit (sometimes the center gets a bit grainy, you can stir this to melt it). Watch it closely, waiting for the right moment. Once it is a deep amber, lower the heat and pour in your cream and be ready – it will boil up. Whisk the cream to combine it and it will calm down. You can turn the heat back to medium at this point, just for another minute or two, and add the salt and pistachio paste or boiled cider (whichever you are using). Then turn off the heat and add the vanilla. 

Apple Cider Whipped Cream

  • ⅔ cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon boiled apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, granulated or brown

Method

Whip all ingredients together until medium peaks. 

Apples Topping

  • 2-3 apples, cored and sliced thin

To keep the apples from browning, after you’ve sliced them place them in a bowl filled with 6 cups water and 3 teaspoons salt. Let them sit for about 10 minutes. Drain them before assembling the pavlova.

Assembling and Serving the Pavlova

  1. Spread whipped cream over the cooled pavlova.
  2. Arrange apples on top.
  3. Drizzle cooled caramel on top of apples.
  4. Sprinkle pistachios and pomegranate arils, if desired.
  5. Slice and serve immediately.

 



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