After all the talk of tamarillo in the comments of the cordial competition the other week I developed a craving - it's one of those fruits that is often overlooked, and the only time I ever seem to eat it is as a garnish on rich chocolate desserts in restaurants. I spied some on my trip to the supermarket last weekend (first time in aaaaages I've seen it, not sure if I was overlooking it and became aware because of the discussion, or if it was actually a coincidence) and couldn't walk past them.
My first encounter with tamarillos was as part of a cooking challenge in Home Economics when I was about 16. I think (if my memory serves me correctly!) we had to cook a meal for guests, including setting the table and serving multiple courses. We were allowed to use pantry staples (and might have been able to specify dairy products) but the produce and meat we were presented with would vary according to the day and the whim of our teacher - so we could plan roughly but not precisely. I had planned to make ambrosia, with broken pavlova as the meringue, and then with a fruit topping to cut through the creaminess. And then Mrs Tucker showed up with tamarillos! I don't remember being particularly perturbed, though I hadn't used them before, but chopped them up, put them in a saucepan and basically stewed them. They made a fabulously tangy sauce, and the seeds made it turn a vivid purple. I have to confess I can't really remember the flavours but I thought it was pretty good at the time, and especially liked the colour.
Anyway, back to my haul of tamarillos from our local New World - I thought I would go with a similar them to my first experience. I also had been planning to make brandy snap ice-cream so pavlova was an ideal counterpart, to use up the egg whites, and the focal point would definitely be the tamarillo, with the sweet marshmallowy pav to cut through the acidity.
I used the Donna Hay pavlova recipe I made last time I whipped up a pav, but with a really low oven temperature - and they had the best insides of any I've ever made! The pillow-factor was definitely present, they weren't [very] cracked (certainly didn't collapse) and they also had the chewy going on. I was very happy with how they turned out, hurrah! Making mini pavs meant despite the low temperature they didn't take too long - but you could easily do the same with a full-sized one, just keep cooking until it seems cooked through - it might take a couple of hours.
It was a pretty tasty dessert - so yummy we had it two nights running, exactly the same way - but the fruit is very acidic and makes you pucker your cheeks a little when you're done eating (we didn't notice so much in the flavour - the sugar was enough to mitigate it - it was just afterwards).
4 egg whites
1 cup/220g caster sugar
3 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
cream to top with
Preheat the oven to 120 C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar, beating well until glossy. Sift in the cornflour and add the vinegar and vanilla and fold until combined. Dollop onto the baking paper and shape into mini pavlovas, or one large one. Place in oven and immediately reduce temperature to 100 C. Bake for 30 minutes and then check (one hour for a large one) - when it seems dry then turn the oven off and allow the pavlova to cool in the oven.
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (or more, to taste)
Peel the fruit, then dice. Place in a saucepan (including seeds) with sugar and water and simmer over a medium heat until the fruit has broken down and the sugar is dissolved.
Whip cream and dollop onto pavlovas, then top with generous spoonfuls of tamarillo. Serves 6.