Are you in love with this season's figs as much as I am? This pavlova is easy but doesn't look it. Baked high so that there is plenty of fluffy centre, it is topped with soft whipped cream, fresh cut figs and lashings of salted maple browned butter butterscotch sauce and toasted shaved coconut! I called her Jezebel.
I love nothing better than anointing desserts with these luscious figgy treats and this idea came to me in a daydream. I was fondling some figs as you do in the store and then I remembered the egg whites I had in my fridge. A pavlova of course! And while the name of the sauce is long with a combination of salted caramel and browned butter butterscotch it is so smooth with a wonderful flavour from maple and vanilla that it goes on just about everything!
I'm really serious about my figs. They're too expensive to not care and during fig season they are often sold in boxes. I examine each box carefully because dry figs just don't give me nearly as much pleasure as soft, juicy ones.
I've also had strangers asking me how to pick figs. I guess they see my serious expression, not unlike a monkey choosing which coconut to crack first and figure that either I'm obsessed or know how to pick a fig. One woman sidled up to me and whispered, "How do you pick them?" and I told her that the softer the better and the ones that are heavy for their size are good. She asked me to find her a box so I did and then when she left another woman asked me to do the same. Perhaps they thought that I worked there, or perhaps I reminded them of a monkey cracking a coconut!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you pick your fruit carefully? Do you open boxes of figs or other fruit to feel if they're juuust right? And are you a browned butter fanatic like me?
Fig Pavlova With Salted Maple Browned Butterscotch Sauce
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To make browned butter heat butter in a saucepan on medium to high heat and cook until you get a nutty aroma, about 5-6 minutes or so. Pour into a bowl and discard the burnt bits at the bottom. I always make more than I need because it's such a great item to use on anything including toast.
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 100C/212F and trace a 14cm/5.6inch circle on a sheet of parchment. Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until you get soft peaks. Then add the cornflour and pour a stream of the sugar into the whites and whip until you get stiff peaks. You should be able to turn the meringue upside down without it moving.
Step 2 - Scoop onto the prepared parchment (it will spread maybe an inch or so). I reserved about 1 cup of the meringue and filled a plain tipped piping bag and piped some patterns on the side. Bake for 2 hours and then turn heat off and allow to cool in the oven. This can be made the day before and just kept in the cool oven until needed.
Step 3 - Make the sauce ahead of time. Heat the butter and maple syrup until simmering. Then add the cream and boil to thicken uncovered, about 5 minutes. Add salt and vanilla to taste once it has cooled. Cool completely.
Step 4 - Whip cream until you get soft peaks. I didn't add any sugar as the pavlova and the butterscotch syrup are sweet enough.
Step 5 - Be very gentle with the pavlova as it is delicate. I didn't remove it from the parchment and served it on the parchment. Place it on a platter and dollop cream on top and top with fig halves and drizzled fig sauce.