The proof of this nostalgic classic-turned-vogue dessert lies in its legacy, taking a contemporary turn for the even better.
Recipes, styling and photograph by Hein van Tonder
Milk tart Pavlovas with cinnamon shortbread crumblePrint Recipe
- 5 extra-large egg whites
- 220g castor sugar
- pinch salt
- 5ml (1 tsp) white wine vinegar
- 5ml (1 tsp) cornflour
- 200g cake flour
- 50g castor sugar
- 30ml (2 tbsp) cornflour
- 5ml (1 tsp) ground cinnamon + extra, to dust (optional)
- pinch salt
- 125g chilled butter, cut into small cubes
MILK TART FILLING
- 500ml (2 cups) milk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 30ml (2 tbsp) white sugar
- 1,25ml (¼ tsp) salt
- seeds of ½ vanilla pod/2,5ml (½ tsp)
- vanilla extract
- 30g cornflour
- 10g butter
For the Pavlovas, preheat the oven to 150°C. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form – the bowl must be scrupulously clean and dry or the whites won’t reach full volume. Add the 220g castor sugar, a tablespoonful at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk until the meringue is stiff and glossy, a further 10 minutes. Add a pinch salt, vinegar and 5ml (1 tsp) cornflour, and continue whisking, a further 2 minutes.
Spoon 6 meringue discs onto a large baking tin lined with non-stick baking paper or a silicone sheet. Keep some space among the discs, as they will spread out a little during baking. Using a teaspoon, make an indent in the centre of each meringue, slowly swirling outwards to form a “nest”.
Put the meringue nests in the oven, immediately reduce the temperature to 130°C and bake, 45 minutes. Switch off the oven and allow the meringue nests to cool in the oven, 1 hour. Remove from oven and carefully set aside until needed.
For the shortbread, preheat the oven to 170°C. Line an 18 – 20cm diameter cake tin with baking paper. Mix the cake flour, 50g castor sugar, 30ml (2 tbsp) cornflour, ground cinnamon and a pinch salt together in a bowl. Rub the 125g chilled butter into the dry ingredients, using your fingertips, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Transfer to the cake tin and press the dough down firmly with your fingers until it is even. Try not to overwork the dough, as you want the biscuits to be short and not tough once baked. Bake, about 25 – 30 minutes, to a light, sandy brown colour and until the shortbread starts to pull away from the sides of the tin. Remove from oven, set aside to cool and remove from cake tin.
Make the milk tart filling by pouring 375ml (1½ cups) of the milk into a saucepan and add the egg, 30ml(2 tbsp) white sugar, 1,25ml (¼ tsp) salt and vanilla seeds or extract. Place over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Mix the 30g cornflour with the remaining milk, add to the hot milk in the saucepan, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Keep whisking until thick, scraping the base of the pot as you whisk.
Remove from heat and whisk in the 10g butter. Pour into a suitable container and place a piece of cling film on top of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming on its surface. Allow the custard to cool down to room temperature (do not refrigerate, as it will set too much).
Cut the shortbread disc into 10 wedges and gently place each meringue nest on a dessert plate. Spoon the milk tart filling liberally into the nests. Crumble 2 shortbread wedges over the Pavlovas, sprinkle with some cinnamon, if desired, and serve immediately with another shortbread wedge alongside. (Store leftover shortbread in an airtight container for up to 7 days.)
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