[Editor’s Note: We would like to introduce Nadia Nouri to the Tablas Creek blog audience. Nadia joined the Tablas Creek team fresh off her graduation from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo this May as our first-ever Marketing Intern. Her natural understanding of marketing's importance to a business, love of wine, and creative abilities convinced our team to create a position for her at the end of her internship. You can expect to see more of her contributions in the coming months.]
By Nadia Nouri
As soon as October hits, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas can’t come any sooner, and I am ready to get into the holiday spirit. What comes to mind when I think of the holidays is good food, good wine, and good company. I’m always looking for inspiration for food and wine pairings.
I come from a multicultural family where my father was born and raised in Tunisia, and my mother grew up in New Zealand. Both of their cultures heavily influenced many of the dishes I grew up eating. So when I tried the newly released 2019 Petit Manseng, one of the dishes that my mother never fails to make around the holidays came to mind: pavlova. Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert, with the addition of cornstarch to give it a crisp, light texture on the outside, while being soft and fluffy on the inside. I have always been told by my Kiwi family that it is a dessert that originated in New Zealand, but the history of pavlova (or “pav”) is a muddled one. Australians claim that they invented it, while New Zealanders disagree. To put the debate to rest, Oxford English Dictionary ruled that it originated in New Zealand — I’ll take that as a win for the Kiwis!
Pavlova is traditionally topped with fresh seasonal fruit, making it the perfect pairing with sweeter wines. Petit Manseng, a rare non-Rhone variety grown on our estate at Tablas Creek, has a tendency to produce sufficient sugar content while maintaining acidity to produce a naturally sweet and balanced wine that pairs well with all kinds of desserts. I decided to make pavlova and top it with fruit to balance the sweetness and acidity of the 2019 Petit Manseng. The toppings I chose for mine were Golden Kiwi fruit (a traditional pav topping), mango, and passionfruit pulp. You can top it with whatever you like (even chocolate!) and switch it up to pair with different wines.
The recipe is actually quite simple — so simple that it fits on a little sign that my mother keeps in her kitchen — but the result is impressive, not to mention delicious!
For the meringue:
6 egg whites
1 ½ cups super fine baking sugar (can blend/whiz granulated white sugar to make it more fine, but not to the point of becoming powdered sugar)
2 tsp. heaped cornstarch
2 tsp. white vinegar
For the topping:
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp. powdered sugar (to taste)
Splash of vanilla extract
Golden kiwi fruit
Preheat the oven to 212°F (100°C). Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, and trace an 8 or 9 inch circle using a cake pan as a guide. Be sure to flip the parchment over so the pencil mark is facing down.
Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks (4-5 minutes). Gradually add the sugar, cornstarch, and white vinegar, while continuing to whisk, until firm and glossy (another 4-5 minutes). The mixture should be completely smooth, with no grains of sugar coming through.
Mound the mixture onto the parchment-lined baking sheet in a circle, keeping in mind that it will spread slightly in the oven. Be sure to keep it nice and tall, for maximum marshmallow-like fluff.
Bake on the center rack for 90 minutes until crisp, but not colored. Do not open the door to check on it. If you must check for color, turn on the oven light.
Turn off heat, and cool the pavlova completely in the oven with the door closed for at least 6 hours (or overnight). This allows for no dramatic change in temperature that could cause it to collapse.
To assemble, transfer the pavlova to a serving plate. Whip heavy cream with powdered sugar and vanilla. Spread the whipped cream on top of the pavlova and decorate with fresh fruit. Feel free to be as artistic or abstract as you like.
Serve with a chilled glass of Petit Manseng and enjoy!