I only properly discovered Dragon Fruit a few years ago. Sure, I’d seen the unapologetically candy pink oddities in markets from time to time, but had no idea what treasure lay underneath. So I bit the bullet, bought a couple and sliced them open. Oh wonder of wonders !
The dove grey center is like a strange mix of a kiwi fruit and a nashi pear with melony, strawberry undertones. The same ripeness test applies to these beauties as to a kiwi: they should give slightly when squeezed and have very little discolouration on the pink outer. You simply use a spoon to scoop out the flesh as you would with a kiwi fruit.
Be warned – a bad dragon fruit will taste little better than textured water, but find a good supplier and I promise they will reward you with sweet, fragrant deliciousness. The fruit loves to play ménage à trois and will happily sing the praises of other flavours – so I have dressed it in lime and pomegranate juice to give it a bit of bite.
If you’re looking for an ultra-healthy easy-peasy recipe for this unusual fruit, simply whack one in the freezer ! When a hot summer day takes hold, cut the fruit in half and serve straight out of the pink shell with a dash of sweetened lime juice.
This pavlova recipe is adapted from the Queen of Unctuousness, Nigella. I have been playing around with the Prodigious Pavlova meringue base recipe from her book Feast for a few years now… I have tweaked the ingredient ratios so that the pavs aren’t sickly sweet, as well as finally cracking my oven heat dilemma. You see, have your oven on too low and you end up with plain old marshmallows; too high and your pavlova comes out with a beautiful crunch on the outside but none of that white show-stopping colour.
I made this for a dear friend of mine, Steph, whom I’d not seen for quite some time. I don’t know whether it was my superb comedic delivery or the dragon fruit sugar-hit (okay, it must have been the latter), but we had a giggly-good time and I promise this pav will hit it off for you too !
All of you meringue-a-phobes: fear not, this recipe is so easy it’s silly and will definitely wow your dinner guests. Just make sure there are no Kiwis at the table (the nationality – I haven’t got anything against the fruit) or else you’ll end up in that unavoidable and unresolvable who-invented-the-pavlova squabble. I say we throw down our arms and just lay the credit where it belongs – on the petite shoulders of its namesake ballerina, Anna Pavlova.
dragon fruit and lychee pavlova
makes 8 mini-pavlovas
for the pavlova:
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 cup (200g) caster sugar
- half a vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
for the topping:
- 300mL double cream
- half a vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
- 32 fresh lychees, peeled and pitted
- 2 dragon fruits, flesh scooped out of their shells and cut into cubes
- juice from half a lime
- juice from half a pomegranate
*tip: push down and roll the pomegranate on your counter top and when the crackling sound stops, insert a knife and the juice will come rushing out. A straw also works well pushed into this hole if you feel like fresh pomegranite juice…
- Preheat your oven to 200C (avoid using fan-forced, it will brown your pavlova) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- In a very clean metal or glass bowl, begin whipping your whites. When they start looking thick and foamy, shower in a little of the sugar. Adding the sugar gradually, continue whisking until your meringue has reached stiff peaks (mixture holds its shape). Add the vanilla seeds and whisk through briefly.
- Sprinkle the cornflour and vinegar over the top of the meringue and fold in gently until just combined (try not to deflate the meringue too much).
- Place a 10cm wide metal ring over your baking parchment and pipe in the mixture, lifting the ring up sharply to release the meringue. Alternatively, you can use a spoon or piping bag to create free-hand circular pavlovas.
- Place in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 110C. Bake for 50 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the pavlovas in there until cool.
- Whip the cream with the vanilla bean until soft peaks form. Dollop a generous amount of cream onto each mini pavlova.
- Toss the dragon fruit in the lime juice and then spoon the cubes on top of the cream. Drizzle a small amount of the pomegranate juice over top. Scatter lychees around the pavlovas.