There are many great pawpaw recipes out there, but sometimes I like to make something I’ve personally never seen before. It’s an exercise in creativity. Last year I made pawpaw mochi ice cream that looks like a pawpaw (Asimina triloba) fruit.
Seeds → black sesame gelée
Pulp → pawpaw ice cream
Skin → yomogi (Japanese mugwort) mochi + black sesame flecks
This year I wanted to try something else a little different. I was toying with the idea of making pawpaw flavored pastéis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts). After all, pawpaws are already very custardy. But even though I’m a pastry nerd, I don’t have much experience with this classic dessert. And pawpaw purée can weirdly change when cooked. Freshly scooped and chilled pawpaw is hard to beat, so I decided to make something else I’ve never seen before: pawpaw pavlova.
Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert originating in Australia/New Zealand. It’s also quite popular in European pastry shops. And even here in America I’ve known grandmothers who make something similar despite their recipes having different names. Essentially, you make a stiff meringue, spread/pipe it into whatever shape you desire, and bake it at a low temperature. It’s super sweet and crunchy (some people liken it to styrofoam, but I love it!). Fruit toppings and whipped cream usually go on top, and they help to cut the sweetness of the meringue.
I was very pleased with this combo of mild meringues, complex fruity pawpaw, and piquant spicebush. The addition of spicebush (Appalachian allspice) is a meaningful one. Not only do the flavors of pawpaw and spicebush seem to work well, they also grow in the same environment and ripen around the same time. They are companions both in nature and on the plate. A lovely sentiment don't you think?
I’d need to do some more testing before I put out a formal recipe, but here are the basics of what I did:
PAWPAW PURÉE - wander here for troubleshooting tips
SPICEBUSH WHIPPED CREAM - my recipe below
Spicebush Whipped Cream
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 spicebush berries
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- Gently heat the heavy cream in a saucepan.
- Grate the spicebush berries into the cream with a microplane.
- Once the cream is warm (but not boiling) remove from heat, cover, and infuse for 1 hour then refrigerate.
- Once chilled again, add the powdered sugar to the infused cream and whip to the desired consistency.
SENSITIVITY WARNING: Pawpaws do not agree with everyone. As with every new food, it is best to try a small amount and see how you respond. Gastrointestinal sensitivity to pawpaw is not unheard of. Cooking pawpaw increases the risk of reaction. Exercise caution.