This recipe may have been doomed from the start with a name like “The Sultan’s Pavlova: Ottomans Come Down Under.” With every ingredient I purchased, with every stir of my spoon, with every step all I could think was that the Armenian genocide unfolded during the Ottoman Empire under some Sultan’s orders and that I would rename this recipe if it turned out well.
And then, when I posted a sneak peek of this pavlova on Instagram, with the caption that I’d never make this again, I thought it was clear this wasn’t a winner. And yet, it was one of my most popular Instagram pictures ever in terms of comments.
I’d pinned this recipe on Pinterest long ago, and although I have no time to bake these days, I made the time one Sunday. I’d been collecting some of the more unusual ingredients for months from different stores across Toronto, including pink hibiscus flowers from Arz, the only seemingly available (and beyond expensive) persimmons in the city from Pusateris, and Persian pashmak from Super Khorak (which is the fluffy sugar threads you see on the very top of the pavlova – along with artisan cotton candy in case the pashmak didn’t turn out. And I was gutted when the end result was…. just weird.
Actually, it was a big fat fail, if I’m going to be honest.
The flavours are familiar to me: pomegranate, rosewater, persimmon as the Armenian-Canadian daughter of parents born in Bulgaria and Jerusalem. And yet, they don’t quite work in this recipe. Some aspects are too tart, while the meringue part is on the too-sweet side. In theory, they should complement each other, but they don’t. This might be a matter of taste, but both my husband and father agreed.
If I ever were to make this again, I would certainly leave out the dried flowers and mint, although the pavlova would suffer visually. And perhaps that’s the problem. This recipe was developed by a food photographer. One with great vision, certainly, and maybe that’s why this pavlova is so gorgeous, But it doesn’t quite hit the mark.
I used dried hibiscus flowers rather than dried rose petals and I used white pashmak because I couldn’t find rose-flavoured pashmak anywhere. I also purchased artisan pink cotton candy from Pusateris in case it looked better on the pavlova instead of the pashmak, but it ended up being a waste because the texture wasn’t quite right.
Would I make this again? Nope, definitely not. The flowers and the pomegranate molasses were much too tart and I felt the rosewater was too subtle (although my husband was able to identify the rosewater after just one bite). I will say however, that this was one of my most successful meringues to date. It came together beautifully and was quite lovely in texture and held its shape, despite the humidity that day. That’s about all that this dessert had going for it.
Grade: Two stars out of five – for creativity and visual appeal. It is rather pretty, isn’t it? But that’s not enough.