Spicy Fall Pavlova

Waiting for the other (pointe) shoe to drop? 
 I promised to post this a few weeks ago on Instagram, But, due to technical difficulties, the plan managed to pirouette out of control. My apologies.

    Fall  Pavlova 

    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1  teaspoon pure vanilla paste
    1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
    3/4 cup egg whites (from 5 to 6 large eggs) at room temperature
    Pinch of salt
    7-8 Fresh Figs, halved*
    1/4 cup Pomegranate seeds, optional 
    Whipped Cream

Preheat oven to 250°F with rack in middle. Draw a 9-inch circle on parchment paper as a guide. Then, turn the paper over and place into baking sheet pan

Pulse granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch in a food processor until well combined.  Combine vanilla paste and white wine vinegar in a small bowl, set aside

Beat egg whites with pinch of salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Increase speed to medium-high and add sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat for about 1 minute after each addition. After all sugar has been added, beat 1 minute more. Add vinegar mixture, then beat at high speed until meringue holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes.

With a spatula, place meringue (using drawn circle as a guide) onto prepared pan. Or experiment, as I did.  Set aside 1-1/2 cups of meringue to create a "basket."  With an offset spatula, or bench scraper, smooth the sides of the meringue (a turntable is a Godsend here). Then, fill pastry bag with remaining meringue. Using a basket weave icing tip, a star tip, or even a round tip, pipe a basket weave design all around.  Work quickly, as meringue tends to lose volume the longer it sits.

Immediately place meringue in the oven, and bake until it feels dry to the touch, about 1 hour.  Turn oven off and prop door open with the handle of a wooden spoon. Cool meringue in the oven 1 hour. 
Meringue will sink slightly while cooling. Also, keep in mind that  meringue will spread a bit while baking, so expect to lose some of the crisp, basket weave pattern in the process.

Carefully run a long offset spatula under the meringue to release from parchment paper, then gently transfer meringue onto serving plate.

 Halve fresh figs  and toss with sugar. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to use..
 Top meringue with whipped cream, figs and pomegranate seeds  just before serving.
Please note: This dessert could also be assembled several hours in advance. Once assembled, however,  keep refrigerated.

*Caramelized pears, in lieu of fresh figs, would also be delicious.

Here are just a few Pavlovas I've made over the years...

The meringue in this flower-shaped  Pavlova was flavored with finely-grated lemon zest (recipe below),  and filled with Lemon Curd. The 'flower' was topped with fresh berries.  Flower petals were piped with a large #125 rose petal tip.

If you can pipe an upside down U (see photo below) you can recreate this pretty dessert.

Basic Meringue for Flower Pavlova

4 large egg whites, room temperature
¼  teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup superfine  sugar
½  cup confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, optional
½  teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200°F. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until mixture gets frothy. Gradually start adding the sugar. Beat for a couple of minutes after each addition. Once it forms soft peaks, add the confectioner’s sugar, lemon zest (if using) and vanilla and beat another 2-3 minutes, until stiff peaks form.

Immediately put meringue in a large pastry bag, and  pipe  the base. Then, two layers of petals.  Bake  2 hours in a preheated 200°F oven. Turn off the oven and leave meringue to dry out 1 hour longer. Store  in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for about 6 months.

If you were a member of the Gardenweb's  Cooking forum, about 10 years ago,  then you'll probably remember this pink Pavlova. I. tinted the meringue a pale pink and piped it with a large star tip in a petal shape.  My idea was to create a four-layer 'tutu,' if you will.
Full on frou frou, am I right?

And finally,  I made this little watercolor in  honor of Anna Pavlova and all my ballerina friends who chassé their way into my heart, and made it look so damn easy.