Mahlepi & cinnamon pavlova with figs & sweet labneh cream

Mahlepi & cinnamon pavlova with figs & sweet labneh cream

Serves: 8-10 | Cooking time: 2hrs | Difficulty: Medium

This is a Middle Eastern twist on classic pavlova, inspired by a wonderful recipe we stumbled across by the Persian cookbook author, Sabrina Ghayour, in her Bazaar cookbook. The dreamy meringue is lightly infused with cinnamon and our Mehlepi spice blend, topped with sweet labneh cream, fresh figs and slivered pistachios. The mint adds a refreshing summery feel. It's a bit different, in a very good way. An utterly gorgeous festive dessert and a real show stopper.

Ingredients 

For the meringue

  • Mahlepi spice blend, 1/2 tsp
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 300 caster sugar
  • Cinnamon 1 tsp
  • Cornflour, 1 tbsp
  • Red wine vinegar, 1 tsp

For the topping

  • 600ml double (thickened) cream
  • vanilla bean paste, 2 tsp
  • 100g labneh
  • 6 black figs, quartered
  • 75g pistachios, roughly chopped (or roughly ground in a mortar & pestle) 
  • 3 tbsp clear runny honey
  • A handful of mint leaves (rolled up lightly and thinly sliced into ribbons or left whole, your choice).

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 140c fan. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper. Either draw a 24cm diameter on it or use a 24cm round cake baking tin (without the tray) to use as a 'border' when you pour in the meringue. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric hand whisk to whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form and the eggs turn bright white in colour (using high speed). This will take 2-3 mins or so, depending on your whisk. Then slowly add the sugar, one tbsp at a time and keep whisking till the sugar is fully incorporated into the egg white. Add the cinnamon, Mahlepi, cornflour and vinegar and continue to whisk until fully incorporated and the mixture is shiny and dense.
  3. Fill the circle/inside of the baking tin on the baking sheet with the meringue mixture. Using a spatula spread the mixture evenly. If using the cake tin, remove it now. Form peaks on the side of the meringue mixture using the spatula so that a crater forms in the middle.
  4. Transfer baking sheet to the oven, reduce temperature to 130c (fan) and bake for 1.5 hrs or until the meringue is cooked and crisp on the outside. Remove from oven and leave it on the baking sheet to cool completely. 
  5. Make the topping when you are ready to serve. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric hand whisk (on medium-high speed) to whip the cream with the vanilla paste until it forms stiff peaks and the cream is firm and glossy (this may take 2-3 mins). Then gently fold in the labneh.
  6. When you are ready to serve, spread the labneh cream mixture over the meringue using a spatula. Scatter the figs and pistachios. Drizzle the honey on top and sprinkle the mint leaves. Serve immediately.