I learned about Pavlovas on The Great British Bake-Off.
Oh you haven’t watched this?
I’ll wait here while you watch the last 5 seasons. Go on.
Pavlovas look like giant fluffy clouds made of Swiss Meringue that are baked on low temps which creates a slight chew on the inside and massive crunch on the outside.
But what am I going to do with a giant Pavlova when I only need to feed 4 people?
MAKE THEM MINI.
Though of course when they’re mini, you wind up eating more of them than you would if it were just a normal portion of dessert cuz they’re small so you’re like I’ll just have 5 of them.
Now, Pavlovas aren’t a Vietnamese dessert. In fact, I don’t remember eating dessert in Vietnam at all…though I drank Vietnamese Iced Coffees every single day.
And Vietnamese Iced Coffees are basically dessert masquerading as a breakfast drink. There’s no way to make these low sugar or low calorie.
A Vietnamese Iced Coffee is comprised of kinda shitty coffee, brewed intensely, then mixed with sweetened condensed milk and shaken with ice. Sure there are fancy versions where you need chicory coffee, the “correct” grinder blah blah but I promise the resulting changes are hardly detectable.
I went with Pavlovas because the crunchy meringue (not so sweet) balances out the Vietnamese Iced Coffee Cream (pretty sweet), Vietnamese Iced Coffee drizzle (omg sweet) and the Coffee syrup (smacks you in the face).
There are a few components to this desert but they are not challenging and nor are they time consuming (most of it is oven time). These are fun to serve and could easily be made into a full-sized version.
Mini Vietnamese Iced Coffee Pavlovas
1 cup very strong coffee (double or tripled brewed)
Start by making your Pavlovas. Preheat your oven to 350F.
Mix egg whites with sugar in a heatproof bowl. You’ll create a double boiler situation by boiling a little water in a pan, then placing your bowl of egg whites and sugar over the pan. You want the steam to heat the mixture – so the bowl just hovers above the boiling water.
You’ll whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved (you can feel the grains, or lack thereof, between your fingers). You can use a thermometer to ensure you’re heating to your egg whites to 160F (at which point salmonella is dies) but this method is easier. And we’re baking our meringue.
Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, whisk your mixture for about 10 minutes until it’s thick, glossy and stiff. Your bowl will be room temp at this point.
Using a pastry bag and a Wilton tip* start making mini baskets over baking sheet covered with parchment or a silpat.
* If you do not own pastry bags or pastry tips (the things that make frosting look pretty on cakes) you can make this at home with a freezer bag and masking tap. Take the corner of a freezer bag and wrap it with masking tape so it’s stiff. You’ll cut a small 1/2 inch corner off the end of the bag so you’ve created a stiff tip in one corner. Fill your bag with Swiss Meringue and you’re ready to pipe.
As soon as you put them in the oven, turn the heat down to 250F and bake for 1 hour. At 1 hour, turn the oven off and let the pavlovas cool inside the oven for as long as you have. I did this for about 1 hour longer then took them out.
While these are in the oven, make your Coffee Syrup. Take a cup of very strong coffee and one cup of white sugar and combine in a pot on the stove. You’ll heat this on low until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove and let cool slightly.
Now, make the Vietnamese Iced Coffee Drizzle. Mix the heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 your coffee syrup and vanilla extract in a bowl. Put this in the fridge so it gets very cold.
Now, make the Vietnamese Iced Coffee Cream. Take the remainder of your heavy cream and beat with a hand beater or stand mixer until you get whipped cream. Slowly, start to add in 3/4 of your Vietnamese Iced Coffee Drizzle mixture. Keep in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
To assemble, take one of your pavlovas, fill the basket with Vietnamese Iced Coffee Cream, then drizzle the coffee syrup and Vietnamese Iced Coffee Drizzle on top. Depending on how much caffeine/sugar you want, go wild with the toppings.