Adirondack Pavlova – a foraged locavore indulgence

Adirondack Pavlova

A meringue crust and whipped mascarpone cream filling cushion Adirondack wild raspberries.

It is not very often you meet a dessert worthy of carrying delicate Adirondack wild raspberries, but Adirondack Wild Raspberry Double Chocolate Maple Pavlova is up to the task. Like most wild fruit, wild Adirondack raspberries are smaller, sweeter, and more fragile than their domestic relatives. It is easy to overwhelm the berry’s best part–their authentic raspberry flavor–with heavy sweeteners and bold flavors. I was looking for a light, gluten-free, and interesting way to serve wild raspberries when I concocted this recipe.

This delightful treat is a basic meringue spruced up with chocolate and Adirondack maple sugar, topped with maple-sweetened mascarpone cheese that is whipped with heavy cream, and topped with freshly picked wild raspberries and shaved chocolate. A slice of fresh Adirondack Pavlova is the perfect way to prepare for, or refuel after, a long summer day of Adirondack outdoor recreation. Outdoor recreation isn’t a necessary ingredient in this recipe, but it helps alleviate the guilt when you realize you must have another piece of Pavlova.

Wild raspberry picking in the Adirondacks

Helpers are important for wild raspberry picking, even if they eat most of the berries and the bucket is just a prop.

The original Pavlova was created for the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova in the 1920s in either New Zealand or Australia; both countries claim credit, as well they should. Unlike traditional meringue, a Pavlova crust is light and crisp on the outside with a moist, soft, almost gooey interior.

The active local food movement in northern New York is a boon to those of us who like to buy local and make yummy desserts like this. The maple syrup and sugar used in this recipe came from my neighbors’ maple syrup operation, and the eggs from our CSA farm share. The star of this show is volunteer food–foraged wild raspberries from my front yard–you don’t get more local than that.

Before we start, a word about working with meringue: it sticks to everything. It is so sticky it is used as glue to hold the parchment paper to the baking sheet in this recipe. This means if you are an uptight fuss-budget, you’ll want to stay away from this recipe. I lean toward the tidy and I had to learn to just let it go when I started baking meringues. The sticky egg-white mixture gets everywhere and makes a mess, but don’t worry, you can clean up to your heart’s content after the Pavlova is in the oven. And whatever you do, do not make a Pavlova with an uptight fuss-budget lurking in your kitchen; they’ll freak out over the mess and take all the fun out of licking the beaters. (What are you doing hanging with an uptight fuss-budget anyway?)

Adirondack Pavlova

Egg whites beaten to sticky stiff peaks.

A tip about eggs whites: older is better. Extremely fresh eggs are more difficult to separate and whip. Eggs separate easier when they are cold, but whip better at room temperature. So, separate the eggs right out of the refrigerator and let the whites warm to room temp before you start whipping them. It takes a while for egg whites to reach whipped perfection, so get comfortable and turn your radio or computer up loudly so you can hear over the noise of the mixer.

Adirondack Pavlova

If you don’t have a sous chef like the resident biologist, prepare the ingredients before you start whipping the egg whites.

For the Crust

  • 6 large egg whites
  • Pinch salt
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar and 1/4 cup maple sugar (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

For the Mascarpone Cream

  • 8 ounces (1 cup) mascarpone cheese, cold
  • 1-1/3 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, cold
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Topping

  • 1-1/2 cups (or as many as you pick) fresh wild raspberries
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, grated or shaved into curls (optional)

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a dark marker, draw a 9-inch diameter circle on the parchment paper by tracing around a 9-inch cake pan or plate. Flip the paper over so your meringue won’t touch the marker.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites and salt on medium speed until foamy soft peaks form, about a minute. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the sugars; continue beating until stiff peaks form, 8-9 minutes. The meringue will be glossy.

3. Pass the cocoa powder through a sieve or sifter and add to the meringue. Add the vinegar and chopped chocolate. Using a large rubber spatula, fold the mixture until well combined. It should be a light mocha color with no white or brown streaks.

Adirondack Pavlova

Fold in two kinds of chocolate because…two are better than one.

4. Secure the parchment paper to the baking sheet by adding a dab of meringue under each corner. Mound the meringue onto the parchment inside the circle. Using the spatula or a butter knife, spread the meringue to fill the circle. Even the top and sides just slightly–it shouldn’t be perfectly smooth or overworked.

Adirondack Pavlova

Relax, don’t try to make it look perfect.

5. Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the meringue is puffed and crisp all over, yet still a bit wobbly underneath if you touch the center. Don’t worry if the top is cracked–that’s normal and  gets covered with whipped cream in the end. Turn off the oven, prop the oven door open, and leave the meringue in the oven to cool to room temperature, at least 30 minutes. The meringue won’t collapse as much if it cools gradually.

Adirondack Pavlova

Freshly baked Adirondack Pavlova crust.

6. Before serving, carefully peel the meringue off of the parchment paper and place it on a serving platter. In a medium bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, maple syrup, and vanilla until combined. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until it holds soft, pillowy peaks. Do not over beat; it should not be too stiff or grainy.

7. Mound the mascarpone cream onto the meringue and gently spread it out about an inch from the edge. Don’t worry if the meringue cracks in the process. Don’t worry at all; it is almost time to eat this taste bomb. Top the Pavlova with the raspberries and sprinkle the shaved chocolate over top. Cut the Pavlova into wedges, wiping the knife in between slices, and serve.

  1. Note: Place regular granulated sugar and the maple sugar in a food processor and process until fine, about 60 seconds.
  2. Note: This Pavlova can be made ahead and assembled up to 12 hours ahead of time. Keep in the refrigerator.

Adirondack Pavlova

Nutrition Information (Read it and weep.)

  • Per serving (10 servings)
  • Calories:429
  • Fat:25g
  • Saturated fat:15g
  • Carbohydrates:51g
  • Sugar:47g
  • Fiber:2g
  • Protein:5g
  • Sodium:136g
  • Cholesterol:74mg

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