Honey Pavlova with Chai-Poached Plums
September 10, 2020
We’re getting fancy today! But here’s a little secret about pavlovas: they are the easiest elegant-looking and sounding dessert you will ever make. There is nothing difficult in this sugary treat, just some good flavors and patience. Simple and sure to impress your guests? Yeah, that’s a style I love. You can have it all with this honey pavlova and chai-poached plums.
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September is plum season! We get these adorable Italian prune plums from our farm share around this time of year, and I knew I wanted to make a fun and interesting dessert with them. I’m not exactly sure where I got the inspiration to do a pavlova, or if it just popped into my head one day, but I’m glad it did. This ended up being delicious and gorgeous, which is an excellent combo!
What You Need to Get Started
- Produce: Plums, Ginger
- Pantry: Chai tea bags, Sugar, Honey, Cornstarch
- Spice Cabinet: Star anise, Whole cloves, Allspice berries, Vanilla bean paste, Cream of tartar
- Fridge: Egg whites, Heavy cream or whipped cream
- Equipment: Stand mixer with whisk attachment, Baking sheet, Parchment paper, Silicone spatula
- Optional Equipment: Hand mixer, 8oz Mason Jar
Let’s Make Chai-Poached Plums
The first step is to prepare your plums. I used prune plums, which have a dark purple skin and hard yellow flesh. They are an oblong shape, and can be slightly smaller than more rounded plums. You can use whatever type of plum you want in this recipe, but I suggest using ones that are just ripe or even slightly under ripe, so they don’t fall apart while poaching.
Use a sharp paring knife to slice each plum in half, following the natural indent in the skin to guide the knife around the pit. Then use your hands to twist the two halves in opposite directions to split the plum. Use the point of your paring knife to carefully cut around the pit, and discard it.
Meanwhile, heat up a pot of water on the stove until it’s boiling. Add in three chai tea bags and some extra flavors: a piece of ginger, a whole star anise, and a handful of cloves and allspice berries. Allow this to brew, boiling for about 3 minutes until it is dark and fragrant.
Then add in the plum halves, and adjust the heat so it’s just simmering. Let the plums cook and soften up, absorbing all of that delicious spicy tea flavor. After a few minutes, about five or ten, the plums will be tender and begin floating at the top of the pot. That means they are ready!
Use a slotted spoon to remove the plum pieces, and place them in a strainer to remove any extra liquid. Then use the slotted spoon to remove the tea bags and spices. You won’t need the tea, so you can pour yourself a hot cup to enjoy, or let it cool, and then store in the fridge for up to a week. It makes a really tasty iced chai with some milk and ice to taste.
Set the plums aside, or store them in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days. If there is still liquid when storing, they may continue to soften, but they will still be super tasty. You can use them either chilled or room temperature to top the pavlova later.
How to Make Honey Pavlova
Next, it’s time to make some meringue for the pavlova! You’ll start with a bunch of egg whites. It’s best to use actual eggs, not a packaged egg white, and just be careful when separating them to not get any yolk into the whites. It can prevent the meringue from whipping.
Allow the egg whites to come to room temperature, but be sure the bowl of your stand mixer is cool. You can run a metal bowl under some cold water, and then thoroughly dry it. Using the whisk attachment, start mixing on low, and then slowly increase the speed up to high.
The egg whites will begin to get frothy, and then they will start to form into an opaque white, almost whipped cream-like texture. At this point you can add in the sugar. Granulated sugar will give you the best, crisp edges on the pavlova.
Pour in the sugar slowly while the mixer is running, allowing it to get mixed into the meringue. Continue mixing until the entire mixture is glossy, and it holds its shape when you remove the whisk from the meringue.
Then, add in the flavorings: honey and vanilla bean paste, as well as the cornstarch and cream of tartar, which are for structure. Cream of tartar is used for its acidic qualities, and you can easily swap it out for 1 teaspoon of white vinegar if needed. Mix these on low until thoroughly combined.
Transfer all of the meringue onto a prepared baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Be sure not to use a greased pan or add any oil, as that will work against the meringue. Parchment paper is the best bet here.
Use a silicone spatula to shape the meringue. It will hold its shape well, so you can form it easily. Create a circular mound, that resembles an erupted volcano – with a large crater in the middle. This is where your toppings will eventually sit. Use the spatula to smooth the edges and create any waves in the meringue you desire.
Bake it for an hour, until the outside appears dry and no longer glossy. Because of the honey and vanilla, it will be a toasty brown throughout, although some peaks may be darker. Turn off the oven, and allow the pavlova to come to room temperature inside as it cools. If needed, you can leave it overnight.
If you are making this in advance, pause here. You can store the cooled but untopped pavlova for a few days covered at room temperature. However, once it’s topped you should serve it quickly. Pavlova doesn’t store well in the fridge.
To add the toppings, begin with a layer of whipped cream. You can use store-bought whipped topping or make your own. I add cream to a mason jar, and then use my hand mixer to quickly whip it up right in the jar. It’s super fast and easy, and there’s no need to add any sugar or flavor, as the cream is plenty rich on its own.
Spread the whipped cream inside the crater of the pavlova, creating an even layer for the fruit to sit on. Then scoop the poached plums on top and drizzle with additional honey, if desired. Use a sharp knife to cut it into slices, like a pie, and serve.
Let’s get fancy! Impress your guests with a Honey Pavlova covered in Chai-Poached Plums. The secret? It’s super easy!
How to Serve Pavlova
Once topped with the whipped cream and plums, the pavlova should be eaten within the day. It makes a gorgeous centerpiece for a dinner party, which you can then slice and serve to all your guests.
To complement the chai flavor, try pairing each slice with a warm mug of chai white hot chocolate. For an after-dinner drink with a bit more of a kick, a cinnamon, pear, and rum cocktail will hit the spot.
As a variation, try topping your pavlova with cherry pie filling, or the apple topping from this no-bake cheesecake. It’s a super versatile dessert that’s easy to adjust for flavor and fruit preferences.
Use Up Leftover Ingredients
- Plums are the star in another fall treat: Newton-style cookie bars.
- Egg yolks are a perfect excuse to make decaf coffee ice cream.
- Cream of Tartar brings a tasty tang to caramel stuffed snickerdoodles.
- Vanilla Bean Paste can be used in place of vanilla extract in any recipe, or in these English-style scones.
- Star Anise adds some extra flavor to a super simple applesauce recipe.
Honey Pavlova with Chai Poached Plums
Chai Poached Plums
- 8 Plums halved and pitted
- 6 Cups Water
- 3 Chai Tea Bags
- 1 Star Anise
- ½ inch Ginger halved
- 6-8 Whole Cloves
- 10-12 Allspice Berries
- 4 Egg Whites room temperature
- 1 Cup Sugar
- ¼ Cup Honey plus more for drizzling
- 1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
- ½ tsp Cream of Tartar
- 1 ½ tsp Cornstarch
- 2 oz Heavy Cream or 1 cup whipped cream
- Fill a large pot with the water and bring to a boil. Add in the tea bags and spices, stir, and continue to boil for 3 minutes, until dark and fragrant.
- Add in the plum halves and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the plums are tender and floating on top of the water. Use a slotted spoon to remove them into a strainer. (Note: You can use the extra liquid as tea!)
- Preheat the oven to 300°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Do not grease or add any oil to the baking sheet.
- In a cold bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, beginning on low and increasing to high, until they are beginning to get stiff, and hold their shape for a few seconds.
- Add in sugar slowly, while the mixer is running, and continue beating until the mixture is very stiff and glossy. When you remove the whisk from the meringue, it should hold its shape.
- Add in the vanilla, honey, cornstarch, cream of tartar and mix on low until thoroughly combined.
- Transfer the meringue to the prepared baking sheet, and use a spatula to shape it into a round mountain-like shape, with a large depression in the middle, like a volcano that has erupted. Use the spatula to create waves in the sides if desired.
- Bake for 1 hour, and then turn off the oven without opening it. Allow the pavlova to come to room temperature slowly as the oven cools. You can leave it in the oven overnight. Once fully cooled, you can cover and store the untopped pavlova for 2-3 days at room temperature.
- If you are making your own, whip the heavy cream using a hand mixer with a whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Spread the whipped cream in the crater of the pavlova, and top with the poached plums.
- Slice like a pie, with a sharp knife, and serve immediately.
- Once fully cooled, you can cover and store the untopped pavlova for 2-3 days at room temperature.
- You can store the poached plums in the fridge in a covered container for 2-3 days.
- Store whipped cream in a sealed jar for up to two weeks.
- After the pavlova has been topped, it should be eaten that same day.