Malabi Rose & Raspberry Vegan Pavlova

Malabi Rose & Raspberry Vegan Aquafaba Pavlova
Stockpile the snacks and prepare to sofa-shimmy to the beat: Eurovision is here again in all its deliciously awkward and sequinned glory!

I don’t really like the term ‘guilty pleasure’, but can safely apply it to Eurovision, which is simultaneously spectacular and toe-curlingly bizarre. I’m pushing the boat out this year with my annual (ok not quite annual, I did miss 2015) Eurovision-themed blog post. Last year’s tribute featured my Cheat’s Portugese Swirls, an easygoing flaky pastry treat made with shop-bought pastry and custard no less.

Tel Aviv is 2019’s host city and this recipe is a little more involved – but really worth the effort. Malabi is a traditional Israeli rose-scented pudding – think chilled, Turkish delight flavoured custard, usually topped with a raspberry sauce. It is thickened with cornflour (not eggs as you might expect with a custard-like dessert) and – ta-daa! – is easily made vegan by swapping the dairy milk for any other type. Paired with the sweet and crunchy airiness of meringue and the luscious, jewel-like adornment of raspberries, pomegranate and pistachios, this is a dreamy dessert you’ll want to make all summer long.

I’ve been a little bit obsessed lately both with malabi – since I first attempted it and loved it – and vegan meringue, recently conquered but has proven itself to be both miraculous and frustrating in fairly equal measures over the last couple of years. Now that I’m confident it’ll turn out perfectly each time, I’m finally happy to share it here on my blog.

The Miracle of Aquafaba

There are a few ways to make vegan meringue, you just need to start with a decent replacement for egg whites. Surprisingly, there are a few options; there’s flax gel – where you boil flax seeds for a long weekend then strain out the seeds leaving a gelatinous gloop. Then there’s the weird boxed powdered egg replacement which I honestly haven’t found a single good use for in almost three years of being vegan. But aquafaba – that’s bean juice guys, and it’s ok – is hands down the best, and then some. Once you know how to use it, it is brilliant on an absolutely majestic, spellbinding level.

Other than disclosing that it is basically a miraculous substance that behaves almost exactly as you’d expect egg whites to, I won’t go on about aquafaba too much. Google will bring up recipes and discussion groups aplenty if you’d like to know more. People make mayo and sauces and all sorts with it; but I’m mainly interested in meringue. You can use it to make big pavlovas like this one, or you can make adorable meringue nests or even tiny little crunchy meringue kisses if that’s what you’re after. It’s a thing of wonder!

For The Meringue:

125g aquafaba (the drained juice from a tin of unsalted chickpeas)
175g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

For The Malabi Rose Cream:

4 tbsp cornflour
50g caster sugar
400g tin of full-fat coconut milk (with the highest fat content you can find, don’t even think about getting a light one)
1 tsp natural rose water essence (I like the Nielsen-Massey one)

To Decorate:

125g raspberries
100g pomegranate seeds (I buy a little tub, the seeds from one pomegranate would be enough I think)
50g pistachios (enough to give you a big handful after shelling and chopping)
Approx 3 tbsp raspberry jam mixed with 1 tbsp hot water to make a sauce

To Make The Meringue:

Place all of the meringue ingredients into a free-standing mixer bowl and whisk on the highest speed for approximately 15-16 minutes. You can check it after about 12 minutes but it’s likely to need longer. I wear earplugs for this as the sound of a Kitchen Aid on #10 for lengthy periods is deafening and I strongly recommend you do something similar to protect your ears!

While the magic ensues, preheat the oven to 120c / 250f / gas mark 1/2 and line a large baking tray with a sheet of baking paper. Use a plate or a cake tin to drawn a circle approximately 23cm/9″ diameter.

When the meringue mixture stands in stiff peaks, spoon it on to the drawn circle and smooth it into a thick, marshmallowy disc. Cook for around 2 1/2 hrs – 3 hours on the middle shelf. It will probably crack quite a bit but that doesn’t matter; it should look crispy and a tiny bit marshmallowy on the inside – like a regular pavlova. If you want a drier meringue, cook for longer. You’re not really cooking it of course, you’re drying it out. Another 30 minutes will probably do the trick.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the paper. Aquafaba meringue is a bit more fragile than egg meringue, and as such extra care is needed when removing it from the paper. If it’s showing signs of absolutely falling to bits, don’t try to take it off the paper, simply snip the paper away from the sides (leaving a supportive circle underneath) and pop the pavlova on to a serving plate ready to decorate. Just remember the paper is there when you slice it up and serve it!

To Make The Malabi Rose Cream (You can do this a day or so in advance if you like): 

Place the sugar and cornflour in a saucepan on a low heat and lightly whisk together with a splash of the coconut milk. It’s a bit like making a roux; as soon as it thickens, slowly add the rest of the coconut milk, heating and stirring continuously. It will take  a few minutes to thicken after the few first bubbles appear – don’t boil it, just very gently simmer until it’s nice and thick. Remove from the heat and whisk in the rose oil; I think a teaspoon is enough but you might want to add a tiny drop more.

Transfer to a dish and cover with cling film or a disc of baking paper to avoid a skin forming. Keep in the fridge until you need it.

*Note: The photograph above left shows the inclusion of cardamom with the cornflour and sugar. Please ignore this as it is from an earlier experiment. I now only use rose to flavour the malabi as the cardamom in the meringue is enough – however if you’re crazy for cardamom then feel free to add a pinch here if you like.

Assembling the pav:

Try to do this just before eating to avoid it going soggy.

  • Place the pavlova gently on to a serving plate and carefully spread the malabi evenly, leaving about an inch around the sides. If bits of meringue start breaking off you can glue it back together with a dollop of malabi!
  • Now scatter the raspberries, chopped pistachios and pomegranate seeds. Don’t worry about being neat!
  • Finish with a drizzle of raspberry sauce and serve immediately.

This will keep reasonably well in the fridge – the meringue holds its shape pretty well, all things considered; but it never looks as attractive the next day as juice from the raspberries and pomegranate seeds start seeping.

Please let me know if you give this a go! And if you have any questions feel free to get in touch and I’ll do my best to help. Using aquafaba is a completely new concept to many and it’s a good idea to have a practice run first – not too difficult if you get through as many tins of chickpeas as we do!

Rose and Raspberry Vegan Aquafaba Pavlova Rose and Raspberry Aquafaba Vegan Meringue

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