Spiced Winter Pavlova

by admin on February 11, 2009 · 35 comments

spiced winter pavlova

This pavlova is a serious pudding, not a health food.  The meringue is fudgy with brown sugar.  The fruit topping is vanilla and honey scented and textured with fig seeds.  The cream layer is a blend of whipped cream and greek yogurt. It’s really good though, so I thought you wouldn’t mind the brief deviation from all that nutritiousness.

The pavlova was supposed to be the caramel apple pavlova from the Riverford Farm cookbook.  We had friends coming to dinner and I promised myself that I’d stick to the recipe, just this once.  And then when I made the meringue the night before the dinner I figured swapping in a little bit of muscovado sugar couldn’t hurt, but that I’d stick to the plan with the caramel apple topping. And then our friends had to cancel because of the heavy snow we’ve had…

Inspired among other recipes by Stonesoup’s version of Maggie Beer’s fig pavlova I made a winter fruit compote with plums and dried figs, spiced with vanilla, cinnamon, star anise and honey.  A compote based on dried and (gasp!) canned fruit neatly skirts round the problem of the lacklustre fruit available in the UK at this time of year and gives the whole dish a decidedly seasonal feel.  You can use fresh fruit by all means but just think about it; nutritionally you’re not really missing out, it is environmentally sound at this time of year and you won’t be infuriated by fruit that doesn’t ripen in time for your guests.  Mixing whipped cream with a helping of lower-in-fat greek yogurt is a worthwhile twist that gives a contrasting sour note in the middle of all that sweetness.


The meringue and fruit compote can both be made a day or two before, just keep the meringue in an airtight tin until you are read to use it.  If you are able to, assemble the pavlova just before eating; this is delicious with the cream fridge cold and the compote just warm.

Recipe for Spiced Winter Pavlova

For the meringue
4 egg whites, medium eggs
150g caster sugar
100g light muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon cornflour
Half a tsp vanilla extract

For the compote
6 soft dried figs
300g canned plums (drained weight)
1 vanilla pod
1 cinnamon stick
6 black peppercorns
2 tbsp floral honey
1 star anise
A cup of water

For the cream
150 ml double cream
150 ml reduced fat greek yogurt

Whisk the egg whites until they become stiff and glossy.  Keep whisking and slowly add the sugar to the egg whites a couple of tablespoons at a time.  Once the sugar has all been incorporated, fold the vinegar, vanilla extract and cornflour into the egg/sugar mixture.

Cover a baking tray with a sheet of baking parchment and draw a roughly 9 inch (25 cm) diameter circle onto it.  Use this as a guide to dollop the meringue into a roughly circular shape with a very slight dip in the middle.  Bake at 120 C for 90 minutes and then switch the oven off and allow the meringue to cool in the oven for at least half an hour or overnight.

Score the vanilla pod lengthways with a sharp knife to release the seeds.  Put the water, honey, vanilla pod, cinnamon, peppercorns and star anise in a small saucepan and simmer for half an hour (long enough to reduce the volume by about half). Slice the figs into roughly three slices per piece.  Stone the plums and cut into quarters.  Add the figs and plums to the spicy liquid and cook on a low heat for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool.

The meringue and compote can both be prepared in advance but whip the cream just before serving for best results.

Whip the cream in a large bowl until it thickens.  Fold in the greek yogurt.

To assemble, spread the yogurt/cream mixture evenly over the top of the meringue. Spoon  over the fruit and drizzle with a little bit of the syrupy juices.


Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food. February 11, 2009 at 22:59

oh, wow, I’ve got to make this!

Elaine February 11, 2009 at 23:14

Your description defines mouth-watering and definitely evoked this physiologic response in me. The seasonal fruit compote sounds heavenly.
Sophie, I think you have created a classic late winter dessert.
Only one problem with this post. I can’t taste it!!!!

Wendy February 12, 2009 at 11:25

I’ve made pavalova a few times over the last few months using pomegranates but they’ve gone out of season now. Might try this out next time instead.
For sure, I’ll be trying the mix of greek yogurt and double cream though. Like the idea of that zing.

Patricia Scarpin February 12, 2009 at 13:10

I’m bookmarking this gorgeous recipe – been having way too many egg whites (after buying an ice cream maker) and this is such a glorious way of using them!

Sophie February 12, 2009 at 16:35

This is a really good pudding Nurit – I’d definitely recommend trying it.
Elaine, if I could send you a portion you know I would!
Pomegranate pavlova is a lovely seasonal idea too Wendy. I bet it looks really pretty. The yogurt and cream mix is good – I find lots of cream on its own a bit rich
Patricia – we’ve answered each others questions here I think. I was just wondering what to do with all of the egg yolks! So ice cream is the answer.

jennywenny February 12, 2009 at 20:46

mmmm. I have to make some mini ones this weekend for a bride to be, perfect timing! Dont hate me when I say that we’re getting strawbs here already, thats what I’ll top mine with.

Angela @ A Spoonful of Sugar February 12, 2009 at 21:37

This looks divine, Sophie. I love the dried fruit compote being supplemented with tinned fruit. Very clever. (And there is far too much negativity attached to tinned food these days. A lot of it is more nutritious than the fresh fruit by the time it reaches the shops.)
BTW, I have nominated you for an award on my blog: http://www.aspoonfulofsugar.net/wp/2009/02/roasted-squash-dolcelatte-wrap/

ttfn300 February 13, 2009 at 02:43

mmm, i love pavlova and meringue, this looks fantastic!!

Emsy February 13, 2009 at 04:48

I’m almost wishing winter was here so I can try your delicious looking pav, almost…mmm warm, long summer days, how awful. Enjoy the cold, while I eat my mangoes….!

Helen February 13, 2009 at 20:22

And so here is the pavlova! It looks amazing, by the way. I need a dessert for tomorrow and I can’t believe I forgot you made this. I would never have thought to use canned fruit but I can see it works.

Lisa Manche February 14, 2009 at 05:01

this is so gorgeous… I’ve been wanting to make a pavlova with summer berries lately…but it’s 20 degrees and raining, so your pavlova would be just perfect today!

Andrew February 15, 2009 at 07:19

I love Pavlova but have never ever made one – I think I have a fear of making meringue!

Sophie February 15, 2009 at 21:51

Jennywenny – I am more than a little jealous of your strawberries though I also quite like it that the weather-limited produce in the UK encourages me to cook inventively
Angela – thanks for the award, how lovely! You’re right, people can be sniffy about tinned fruit but they are very hand for this kind of recipe.
thanks ttfn300
Long summer days and mango sound pretty good at the moment Emsy. We can only dream of summer – it keeps snowing here in the UK
Helen, thanks for encouraging me to blog this one. I’m not normally big on desserts
Hi Lisa. This is a perfect rainy weather pavlova variation!
Andrew – I hardly ever make meringues and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. As you can see from the pics, mine has a huge crack in it but pavlovas are a forgiving place to start with meringue cooking as you can smother any imperfections with cream :-)

Scott at Realepicurean February 16, 2009 at 19:40

This is a beautiful, beautiful pavlova. I’m also very glad to have found your delightful site!

Sophie February 16, 2009 at 20:13

Ooooh, a creamy pudding in a pavlova? Pavlova’s are yummy but I love the thought of having it with pudding! :)

Shari February 21, 2009 at 21:26

I love pavlova, and your spiced version sounds wonderful!

Sophie February 22, 2009 at 11:21

Hi Scott, welcome over!
Nice to hear from you, other Sophie. I’m not sure what you mean about creamy pudding in a pavlova? I think the recipe is still the normal pavlova combination, seasonal variations aside e.g meringue, cream, fruit. Or maybe they only call the meringue part pavlova in some places? We need an Australian to clarify!
Shari – thank you for your kind words, I’m really pleased with this spicy version.

Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food. March 13, 2009 at 16:26

Hi Sophie,
I had my eye on this “cake” for a while now.
I wanted to ask if you would be interested to have it submitted to the new “Cake Collection” happening on my blog. There’s a giveaway too… Here are the details: http://www.familyfriendlyfood.com/2009/03/launching-cake-collection-with-a-giveaway/
Many thanks!
1 family. friendly. Food.

Sophie March 21, 2009 at 09:33

Hi Nurit, thanks for this – I’ve emailed you about the event

Zoe April 21, 2009 at 12:37

YUM! I haven’t made a pavlova in ages – have the strongest urge to now! This looks just beautiful and a nice twist to the normal recipes.

Alex December 11, 2010 at 23:35

I came up with the same idea & was looking for recipes on the net to tweak my own when I found yours.
I’ll give you my version to try:
Big punnet of fresh plums (doesn’t matter if they’re hard in the supermarket, they’ll cook fine).
zest of 1 orange
port/red wine
Throw everything in together, cook until the plums are tender & fragrant.
Whipping cream + vanilla essence

Sophie December 12, 2010 at 10:55

Hi Alex – thanks for sharing your ideas. I love the orange zest and port/wine combination. You’re right about the plums – it doesn’t seem to matter what they’re like when you buy them if you plan to cook them.

Fran December 27, 2012 at 19:30

I made this for our Christmas dessert and it was delicious. I couldn’t find tinned plums so used tinned peaches and it was so good I don’t think it will be long before I make it again. Thanks for the recipe!

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tracey November 19, 2015 at 19:51

Do you cover the saucepan or let it simmer with a lid? And are you supposed to take our the peppercorns, vanilla pod and cinnamon before adding the fruit or do you just leave it in there? Thanks for your help.

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