Pineapple Honey Pavlova with Fresh Mint and Dark Chocolate

Our Cook the Books Club read for June/July was The Wedding Bees, by Sarah Kate Lynch, an inspiring, charming romance and beekeeping mini-primer.  All about an escaped Southern Belle, who together with her queen bee and small colony of worker bees, take to a rooftop apartment in New York City, retaining from her background ample training in good manners, which are combined in Sugar's case with a large dose of kindness.

Sugar Wallace reaches out to all her needy, dysfunctional and semi-dysfunctional neighbors with that winning combination.  And what a terrific, mixed cast of  characters it is. From the shy, retiring cook in the apartment adjoining Sugar's, a sad, anorexic teen downstairs, and angry, terminally grumpy old landlords.  She even comes to see her own need for love in the end and does a healthy turn-around on some issues from her past.

I loved how a little thoughtfulness, love and attention were so effective in working changes in those around her.  Actually, we could all benefit from application of the Sugar Wallace technique on those we encounter day to day.  Especially the crabby ones.  She took the good from her upbringing, and left the bad behind.  Though we are not responsible for the culture, family, etc. that we are born into, we can definitely learn from it, make better choices, and grow up.  It's called moving on.

Cook the Books Club is all about getting inspired by whatever our current selection happens to be.  For my foodie inspiration from this book, it was the scrumptious sounding Pineapple Pavlova with mint and shavings of dark chocolate, brought by the cook, next-door, to Sugar's party.  I love pavlovas, but had never made one with pineapple, or with mint and chocolate.  Oh boy, it did sound delicious.  They are also called Angel Pies, for good reason.  Heavenly.

Pineapple Pavlova or Angel Pie

For the meringue:

4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups superfine or regular granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white vinegar
A few drops vanilla extract

For the topping:
2 cups diced pineapple
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons shaved dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 300°F (130°C) and place rack in center of oven.

1. To prepare meringue, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and draw a circle on the paper using an 8- or 9- inch cake pan as a guide.   I cut mine out.

Pour the vanilla and vinegar into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.  In bowl of an electric mixer, combine egg whites and salt. Begin beating at low speed, slowly increasing to high. Continue until satiny peaks begin to form; gradually beat in sugar a tablespoon at a time.  A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar.  Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted.

2. Mound onto parchment within circle, and shape into a disk, a bit lower in the middle, higher around the edges. Place in oven, and immediately reduce heat to 250 degrees. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the outside is dry and takes on a very pale cream color. Check on meringue at least once during the baking time. If it appears to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees.  Turn off heat, and allow meringue to cool completely in oven.  It will keep several days at room temperature in an air-tight container.  This is terrific in hot weather.  Bake it in the morning, and it will sit in there ready to use in the evening.

3. To prepare topping, put the pineapple and honey into a skillet, stirring over medium heat.  Cook until the fruit is bubbling, then cook for 2 or 3 more minutes.  (Note: pineapple has an enzyme that make it necessary to cook before combining with protein, such as cream.  Other fruits such as berries, or mangoes, no need.)  Set aside to cool, then finish cooling in the refrigerator.  Pour the cream into a mixing bowl, and whip until it is thick enough to hold peaks, adding the confectioner's sugar at the end. Gently fold the diced pineapple into the whipped cream.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 4. When ready to serve, set meringue onto a large serving plate.  Lift carefully and peel off the parchment.   Spread the cream and pineapple mixture evenly over meringue. Garnish with the mint and chocolate.  Serve immediately to rave reviews. 

A perfect summer dessert, with fresh fruit in season.  And pineapple combines amazingly well with mint - a marriage made in heaven.   I'll be sending this to Beth Fish for her Weekend Cooking meme as well as our Cook the Books Club.


Rachel said...

That does sound like a heavenly Pavlova flavor combination. Missed that culinary detail when I read the book. Yum.

Beth F said...

Pineapple? Mint? Dark chocolate? Where do I sign up??? I haven't made a pavlova in years. Now you've got me craving one. The book sounds good too. I've always been fascinated with beekeeping

Carole said...

I enjoyed that book too. And pav is a Kiwi fave - not sure about the mint though. Cheers from Carole's Chatter!

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

Your pavlova looks so wonderful, what a great recipe.

Vicki said...

Oh my goodness! That sounds amazing!

I forgot all about Cook The Books this year. I'm sad I missed out on the book since it's been waiting for me to pick it up off my shelf for a very long time.

Tina said...

Wow, what a dessert! I was so sorry to have missed out on the Cook the Books this time. That sounds like a good book.
Love your dessert.

Simona Carini said...

Wow, that looks gorgeous. I am not a dessert person and pavlova in particular scares me, so you have all my admiration for tackling it and with such beautiful result. Glad you enjoyed to book. I also appreciated how Sugar deals with people: kindness certainly can work miracles. Thank you for contributing to this edition of Cook the Books.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Pineapple and mint is such a great combination but in the UK we don't often get nice pineapples. Using it as a pavlova topping would make up for any lack of sweetness in the fruit - lovely!

A Day in the Life on the Farm said...

What a lovely looking dessert. I have never made a pavlova and I must confess that I missed it in the book but I certainly won't be able to get this beautiful dessert out of my mind now.

Debra Eliotseats said...

I little kindness and empathy can go a long way. Beautiful pavlova, Claudia.

Amy said...

Oh those do look delicious! I just love the story and how a little kindness can go a long way!

Delaware Girl Eats said...

Sorry if this ends up being a duplicate but the robot authenticator didn't seem to like me the first time. I love pavlova too and think these ingredients are a wonderful combination.

Deb in Hawaii said...

I was hoping someone would make the pavlova and you did it so beautifully too Claudia! Such a great and inventive combination of flavors. I loved Sugar's kindness too.

(My apologies for been so delinquent in commenting for this round.) ;-)