“Made By Mail” is a DXD Original Series and ongoing experiment where random (and unfortunately sometimes unruly) ingredients are sent out via post to friends and fellow bloggers with hopes of learning what the heck to do with them. This week Sarah Coates of The Sugar Hit is challenged to find the softer side of Whiskey. Not only does Sarah give us a reason to grab a bottle at the store, she also reinvigorates memories of fluffy sweet pavlovas topped with glistening fruit seen in nearly every cafe window of Melbourne….reason 2005 we should all move there.
When someone sends you a bottle of Irish Whiskey in the mail, it’s hard to know what to do with it, save from putting on a smoking jacket and pouring it into a glass. Even that move is pretty fraught – do I have to drink this neat? Should I buy some of those Whiskey stones? Or get an ice cube tray that makes those huge balls of ice that melt slowly? And how am I going to hide the fact that I’m not a huge fan of drinking whisky straight? HELP!
After the panic and pressure of this gifted whiskey subsided, I did what I do best and started to think about how to bake with it! I ran through all the usual St Paddy’s Day, cocktail/brownie/cheesecake options. I even thought about a boozy Shamrock Shake, which is not a bad idea, except that the booze should definitely not be whiskey.
Finally, after seeing a particularly attractive pile of pears at my local market, I decided on this bad boy – a kind of Irish, St. Paddy inspired Pavlova. Which is perfect to enjoy either on the brink of spring or winter (depending on your hemisphere).
St Paddy Whiskey Poached Pear Pavlova
Ingredients For the pavlova:
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream, whipped (to serve)
Ingredients For the pears:
- 5 Williams or other firm pears
- ¾ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup (or more, to taste) Irish Whiskey
- 2 cups water
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
To make the pavlova, place the egg whites into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Begin whipping the egg whites until they reach medium peaks, and then whisking quickly, begin adding in the sugar one tablespoon at a time, until it is all incorporated.
Keep whisking the egg whites for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until you can no longer feel any granules of sugar if you rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers.
Pile the mixture onto the lined baking sheet and use a palette knife to make a disc, roughly 3 inches tall, and 8 inches wide. Place into the oven, and immediately turn it down to 300F. Bake for 1 hour, and then turn the oven off and leave the pavlova in there to cool completely.
To poach the pears, peel the pears, leaving the stems attached. Place the remaining ingredients into a deep saucepan and bring them to a simmer. Add in the pears, and then turn to the lowest heat and leave for 30-45 minutes, or until the pears are cooked through. Remove the pears and set aside to cool.
Turn the heat to high under the poaching liquid, and reduce for about 10 minutes, or until a thin syrup is formed. Set this aside to cool completely.
To serve the pavlova, place it on a serving plate and spread the whipped cream over the top. Arrange the pears on top, and drizzle with the cold syrup.
I love using unusual and cooked fruits on top of a pav. Strawberries and raspberries are great when you can get them, but otherwise give me a roasted plum, or some chargrilled pineapple, or in this case a beautifully burnished Whiskey soused pear!
The marshmallowy-sweet meringue is perfect next to the smoky, aromatic pears, and the whipped cream is left plain to add a rich, smooth counterpoint between the two. A bite of all three, with a little of that reduced whiskey-poaching liquor is truly a pavlova that will make you happy that Spring maybe hasn’t quite come yet.
And it solves your dilemma of what to serve after that corned beef and cabbage dinner AND what to do with the bottle of Whiskey that your Irish uncle give you. So not only is the beautiful, simple and delicious, it’s a problem solving dessert. And that’s about as close to a pot of gold as I’m likely to get.
Recipe, Words & Photography: Sarah Coates