IIt’s hard not to fall in love with coconut sugar, the granulated, dehydrated and boiled nectar that is produced from the flowers of the coconut palm. Rich, smoky, caramelized and earthy, it is a defining ingredient of Southeast Asian sweets, along with its cousin palm sugar, which is harvested from the sap of palm tree trunks. Coconut sugar is transformative in a pavlova, imparting honeycomb flavors with a hint of bitterness reminiscent of the top of a flan. I also combined it with bananas in my fried lumpia for a sunny flavor that will put sand between your toes.
Coconut sugar pavlova with caramelized pineapple
Caramelized pineapple and toasted coconut pair perfectly with the rich honeycomb flavors of this pavlova. The coconut sugar gives the meringue a golden hue reminiscent of fading sunlight. Mixing the sugar in the food processor at first ensures that it dissolves easily; Undissolved sugar causes Pavlova to spill sugar syrup or collapse, so there are no shortcuts. Follow my times for a perfect pavlova with a mauve center and a crisp exterior.
Homework 45 min
Cook 2 h 20 min
It serves 8-12
For the pavlova
110 g coconut sugaror grated palm sugar
230 g caster sugar
6 egg whites (220 g)
⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon of cornmeal
1½ teaspoon white wine vinegar
1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the dressing
½ pineapple, cored and cut into 2½cm x 4cm pieces
2 tablespoons coconut sugar or grated palm sugar
30g desiccated coconut
280ml double cream
2 passion fruit pulp
½ mango, peeled, thinly sliced and julienned
Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan) / 425F / gas 7. Put the pineapple in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, sprinkle with two tablespoons of coconut sugar and bake for 15-20 minutes, until caramelize. Remove and transfer the fruit to a plate.
Replace the paper in the tray with a new sheet, add the desiccated coconut, roast for three minutes, until golden brown, then remove and reserve.
Draw a 20 cm circle on another new sheet of greaseproof paper and place pencil side down on a greased cookie sheet. Place the coconut and powdered sugars in a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds.
In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until smooth peaks, then add the sugar mixture one tablespoon at a time, beating for 30 seconds between each addition. Once all the sugar has been added, scrape off the edges and beat for an additional five minutes. Rub some of the meringue mixture between your thumb and forefinger – it should be smooth, so if you can feel grains of sugar, keep whisking.
Add the cornmeal, vinegar, and vanilla to the meringue mixture and toss briefly to combine. Place the meringue on the outline of the circle on the paper and smooth evenly. Indent the center (this will hold the cream later), then using a spatula, drag the meringue in strokes up around the outside, creating small peaks.
Put in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 140 ° C (120 ° C fan) / 275 ° F / gas 1. Bake for two hours, until the pavlova is dry to the touch and easily lifts from the paper. Turn off the oven and allow the interior to cool with the door ajar for at least two hours, and preferably overnight.
To serve, beat the cream until it thickens. Transfer the pavlova to a serving plate and top with the cream. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, then top with caramelized pineapple, passion fruit, and mango. Serve immediately.
Banana and coconut sugar lumpia
Fried banana sandwiches are prolific in Asia and a feature of many childhoods, including my own. This recipe is inspired by banana spring roll in Indonesia and Polecat in the Philippines: deep-fried spring rolls stuffed with sugar-coated bananas that caramelize as they cook, amplifying the sweetness and flavor. My version folds the wrappers instead of rolling them, creating a textured roti-like snack that is crunchy and irresistibly sticky.
Homework 15 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Makes 16 squares, a attend4-6
For the lumpia
400 g of overripe bananas (peeled weight), about 5 medium-sized ripe bananas
50g coconut sugaror grated palm sugar
⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
70 g of all-purpose flour, sifted
8 x 15cm Square Frozen Spring Roll Wrappers, thawed
500 ml of neutral cooking oil, like sunflower oil
For the cinnamon sugar
20 g caster sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the garnish
2 teaspoons white or black sesame seeds
4 tablespoons of condensed milk
Lightly mash the bananas with a fork in a large bowl, then add the coconut sugar and salt. Gradually add the flour, stirring between additions, to avoid lumps. The dough will be a little runny.
Place a spring roll wrap on a work surface and cover the rest with a cloth to keep them from drying out. Spread three level tablespoons of the banana filling over the middle of the wrapper, leaving a 1½ cm border. Fill a bowl with water, wet your index fingers, and then run them around the edges of the wrapper. Fold the other half of the wrapper over the filling and press the edges down to seal. Repeat with remaining wrappers and banana mixture until filling is used up.
Pour the oil into a heavy-bottomed, deep-sided skillet, making sure it’s no more than two-thirds full. Heat the oil to 160C / 325F, then add four lumpia and fry, turning once in half, for about six to eight minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oil with a pair of tongs and drain on a tray lined with kitchen paper. Return the oil temperature to 160 ° C and fry the second batch of lumpia. (Frying in two batches ensures that the oil temperature does not drop too quickly.)
Let the cooked lumpia cool for five minutes, then transfer it to a board and cut it in half to make two squares. Meanwhile, mix powdered sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.
To serve, place the lumpia in a large serving dish and sprinkle each two-square serving with a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon sugar. Drizzle each serving with half a tablespoon of condensed milk and sprinkle with a quarter teaspoon of sesame seeds, then serve immediately.
Once fried, lumpia will keep up to two days in an airtight container in the fridge: to reheat, place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 200C (180C fan) / 390F / gas 6 oven for 10 minutes.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism