Do you ever feel like there just isn’t time enough to try all the foods? I see all the foods, and I think, “MUST TRY ALL THE FOODS!” And then suddenly I realize that there are about 100 different things I’ve been meaning to try for years, but still, somehow, have not. Persimmons are one of those foods for me. Ok, it’s not that I’d never consumed one. There was someone in my childhood (honestly can’t remember who), a neighbor, or friend’s mom, or somebody who used to make persimmon cookies. I remember those being tasty, but I’d never had them fresh, like just taken a bite out of one.
Last week I was in Trader Joe’s, and I made a bee-line for the sample corner. If you’ve never been inside a TJs, all of them have a little sample station where the give out portions of whatever product they’re promoting that day, and different blends of coffee. Coffee + Free food! Hurray! Anyway, they were sampling a nice little salad with kale and cheese and persimmons and pomegranates! DEEEEELISH! It reminded of the fact that I was way overdue for tasting fresh persimmons.
SO…a few days later, I was trying to figure out what to make for dessert. Taylor and I were having friends over, and I wanted it to be easy (yes I promise these are easy) and seasonal. It all came together. Persimmons and pomegranates are all over the farmer’s markets, they are delicious together, as proved by my TJ’s salad sample, and the combo is just plain gorgeous! Thus Vanilla Pavlova with Persimmon and Pomegranate were born.
You may remember the Chocolate Pavlova, or the crazy, delicious mess that was Strawberry Rhubarb Cardamom Pavlova. It’s honestly, just such a fun dessert for entertaining. Most people either haven’t heard of it, or have never tried it, and It’s a wonderful combination of soft and chewy merengue, lightly sweetened whipped cream, and whatever fresh fruit you want to use. Normally I don’t sweeten the fruit before I put it on, but the persimmons I used weren’t quite ripe enough, and I sprinkled a couple of tablespoons of sugar on them.
Pomegranate is a fruit I’ve tried before. For me it can be one of those multi-sensory food experiences that transports me back to my childhood with one taste. As a kid, pomegranates in my mind, were the most amazing fruit that existed. I had an almost mystical view of them. It was a combination of factors that developed this perception in my strange little 5-yr-old brain.
- Of course, they taste amazing, and I didn’t get them all that often.
- The seeds inside look like jewels or candy.
- They are nearly impossible for a small child to open without help (more on that in a sec)
- I was terrified to pick them, because there was a rumor going around that the one-eyed barber down the street lost his eye picking pomegranates.
Our barber did really have a glass eye, but I don’t think that’s how he lost it. Honestly, it was one of those things I never thought to question, until I vocalized it as an adult and thought, “wait a minute…is that really how he lost his eye?” There were other misperceptions about that barber that I believed for far too long, like his name. Right on the outside of his shop window was a big sign that said 646-RICK. He’d managed to procure a phone number for his shop that spelled his first name, but I just though that was his name. So I would walk in the shop with my dad and say, “Hi, 646 RICK!” I learned to read pretty early, much earlier, apparently, than I developed critical thinking skills…
One day, around the same time, either my parents were busy and I took it myself, or my dad gave it to me as some kind of test of my problem solving skills. Either way, I ended up with a whole pomegranate and no way to open it. I was too short (and uncoordinated) to use knives at this point in my life, and I wanted those tasty little seed gems SO BADLY. I had to get my pomegranate open somehow. I went outside and decided that —->banging it on stuff<—- would probably be the most effective method. I don’t remember all the things I tried to bang it on, but I do remember eventually sitting on the front porch, nibbling on seeds, wondering if I was going to get in trouble for the pomegranate juice that was splatted all over the corner of the house.
Ah to be an adult and have the freedom to buy my own pomegranates and use knives. While the 5-yr-old me would be shocked by the fact that I don’t actually eat ice cream for dinner every night, I’m sure she’d be relieved that I can eat pomegranates whenever I want.
I love that every pavlova looks different, no matter how much you try to shape them all the same. They crack and they sink and they have the most amazing texture. You have to leave them in the oven for an hour after you turn it off. This really helps to make the outside mega crunchy while the inside stays a nice squishy marshmallow consistency. We use the word squidgy for that consistency!
There are unlimited options to the type of fruit you can put on top of these meringues. Go nuts! Or, maybe add nuts. Just tell me how you topped it in the comments.
What foods remind you of your childhood?
- FOR THE MERENGUE:
- 6 egg whites (room temperature is best)
- 1½ cups superfine sugar
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- FOR THE TOPPINGS:
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- 2 tbl powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 persimmons, cut into quarters and sliced thinly
- OPTIONAL: 2 tbl granulated sugar
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds (about ¼-1/2 pomegranate)
- FOR THE MERINGUE:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line 2 jelly roll pans with parchment paper and trace circles onto one side of the parchment paper that are roughly 3 inches in diameter. Trace 12 circles, 6 on each sheet of parchment. You will probably only need 10.
- Be sure that you flip the papers so that the lead circle is facing down and not able to touch the meringues
- In a stand-up mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until satiny peaks form.
- Lower beater speed to medium-low, and beat in one tablespoon of sugar at a time until it is all combined. Increase speed to medium again and mix until the peaks are stiff and shiny.
- Turn mixer off and add vanilla extract and vinegar, and mix one more time on low speed, just until combined.
- Carefully scoop the meringues into circles. You want the merengue to fill out the circle and be about ¾" high, but it doesn't have to be exact. Smooth the sides and tops with a spatula.
- Place in the oven and lower the temperature to 300 degrees.
- Cook 45 to 50 minutes.
- When it's done the outside will be crispy, but the inside will give when pressed. If it's not done, it will give too much and be more soupy than springy.
- Once it's done, don't take it out of the oven. Turn the oven off, but prop the door open a little and let it cool in there for an hour as the oven cools down.
- Using a stiff spatula, scoop the meringues onto whatever dish you want to serve them on.
- FOR THE TOPPINGS:
- If persimmon is not ripe, or just not sweet enough, add slices to a small bowl and mix with granulated sugar. Let sit for 15 minutes and stir until all sugar is dissolved.
- Add cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip cream on medium high speed until stiff peaks form. Spread onto meringue.
- Garnish pavlovas with slices of persimmon and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.
- These pavlovas are best eaten within 24 hours.
*Nutrition information is for 1 pavlova*