Friends who don’t cook, how do you eat out or get food delivered EVERY DAY? Do you just eventually get used to it, or do you have strategic ways to make yourself not feel weighed down by it all? I’m on week three of not cooking and I have such dining out fatigue I don’t even know who I am anymore. I started thinking yesterday of where I was going to eat dinner and just sighed. Usually, thinking of dinner is one of my favorite things!
I thought since I’m staying in an Airbnb I’d be cooking at least a little, but it turns out I don’t really want to have to guess at the purchase date of the dusty bottle of olive oil shoved in back of the cabinet. But I also don’t want to have to pick another place for dinner tonight, either. I’m thisclose to just giving up and going to McDonald’s, but I don't want to be an American cliche and besides, I already feel like that guy from Supersize Me.
So tell me your secrets please, because this can’t be my mental state going into a week of vacation! I WILL discover all the food New Zealand can offer me in 8 days, and nothing’s going to stop me, but at the same time, I’d rather enjoy it, you know?
Anyway, I do realize now that I seem to be complaining about going from Australia to New Zealand, but I promise I’m not! I just really, really, want a salad. All I really know about New Zealand food is that a lot of the lamb I buy seems to come from there, so let’s hope some of that meat comes with veggies, yeah?
The only other thing I know about New Zealand food is that they are in a bit of a war with Australia over ownership of the Pavlova. Not the kind of war I worry about when checking twitter updates on North Korea, but more the kind of war like which tiny taqueria in SF invented the Mission burrito. I don’t know the answer to that one, and I think similarly, the Aussies and the Kiwis just agree to pleasantly disagree about who first thought to pair meringue with berries and cream.
So, in honor of my flight today (tomorrow? what day is it?) from the Land Down Under to the Land of the Long White Cloud (heyyyy book club!), I made a pavlova!* I didn’t really want to upset tradition too much with this one, so I went with the usual mix of berries, kiwi, and passionfruit to decorate, but that’s where the tradition stops.
*Obviously, like a month ago, see my above rant.
I’ve been curious about aquafaba, that brine that comes out of a can of chickpeas. Usually I just toss it down the sink, but some desperate vegan discovered that you can whip and whip and whip it until it behaves remarkably similarly to egg whites in baking. That includes adding a ton of sugar and baking it up into meringue, which I did here, and then layered it with a coconut whip cream and the fruit.
It was an impressive miracle of science for sure, but it’s probably my last vegan pavlova. For one thing, I kind of forgot I don’t like whipped coconut cream, and this cake has A LOT of it. You’ve really gotta be into eating that stuff with a spoon to enjoy the amount here. Also, aquafaba bakes up into a beautiful looking meringue, but I think egg whites add a little more stability to desserts, whereas my vegan version was a light-as-air crispy shell that disintegrated at the mere introduction of moisture. You can imagine how well it held up under the weight of whipped coconut cream and juicy fruit. Have you ever seen the episode of Great British Bake Off where they make towers out of eclairs and cream puffs? Call me Paul.
But I managed to take a couple shots of it before it fully collapsed, and it’s certainly pretty! All you vegans out there, enjoy the pudding-like final result! I’ll be busy crying over Yelp and Google maps trying to figure out where to feed myself in Auckland.
Vegan Berry Kiwi Pavlova Cake
- One 14 oz can chickpeas (unsalted)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 3 tsp vanilla bean paste, divided
- two 15 oz cans full fat coconut milk
- 2 tbs sugar
- strawberries, sliced
- 1 kiwi, sliced thin
- pulp from 2 passionfruits
- blackberries for garnish
- Chill cans of coconut milk in fridge upside down, overnight.
- Make meringue layers: Drain the chickpea brine into a bowl, and reserve the chickpeas for another use. Chill the chickpea brine until cold, about 2 hours.
- Heat oven to 250 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and trace two 4-inch circles on each. Transfer chickpea brine to the bowl of a stand mixer or a mixing bowl and using the whisk attachment, whisk on high for 5 minutes, until white and foamy and doubled in size. Add the cream of tartar and whisk for another minute. Continue whisking and add the sugar 1 tbs at a time, for about 5 minutes more, until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. Whisk in 2 tsp vanilla bean paste.
- Spoon mixture onto parchment lined sheets, just a bit smaller than the 4-inch circles (mixture will expand a bit when baking). Bake for 2 to 2.5 hours, until the outsides are firm and crisp and meringues sound hollow when lightly tapped. Turn off oven and leave to cool in oven for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- When ready to assemble cake, make the whipped coconut cream. Open bottoms of cans and pour off the coconut water. Spoon the chilled coconut cream into the bowl of a mixer, add the sugar and remaining 1 tsp vanilla bean paste. Whisk to soft peaks.
- Strain the passion fruit pulp into a small pot and heat to simmering on the stove over medium high heat. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, until thickened and reduced to a syrup. Watch closely as this happens fast! Spoon into a bowl to cool completely.
- Spread a bit of the coconut cream onto each meringue round, then pipe a thick border of the cream around 3 of the rounds. Fill each with assorted fruit and drizzle with a bit of the passionfruit syrup.
- Stack the filled layers on top of each other, and top the third filled layer with the last meringue round. Pipe on remaining coconut cream and decorate as desired with strawberries, kiwi, blackberries, and the remaining passionfruit syrup. Serve immediatley.