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Before I had any idea of the caloric value (or the intolerant digestive system side effects) of condensed milk, I drank Vietnamese iced coffee with reckless abandon. On a family holiday to Vietnam, I not only fell desperately in love with the country, but also the way the Vietnamese consume caffeine. Tall and iced, Vietnamese coffees are served with a very generous dash of sweetened condensed milk, and coffee beans infused with the unmistakable flavour of chicory.
When SBS Australia asked me to create a recipe fusing Australian culinary tradition with an international flair, it really had to be a Vietnamese iced coffee pavlova. I like to test my recipes multiple times, and this proved as good an excuse as any to consume an excessive amount of pavlova, Vietnamese coffee, and Vietnamese iced coffee pavlova. Now that is what I call a good work week.
VIETNAMESE ICED COFFEE PAVLOVA: THE DETAILS
One of the things that makes Vietnamese iced coffee so unique is the addition of chicory to their coffee itself. Regular espresso, while delicious, doesn’t quite have the same tang to it. So, what is a gal to do?
Firstly, you can generally find Vietnamese coffee at Asian grocers, particularly if you live in the inner city. There was a Vietnamese convenience store next door to my old house that even sold the delicious beverage straight up. Those were the glory days.
Secondly, you can of course substitute a regular espresso shot. While it won’t taste exactly the same, when mingled with condensed milk it produces a reminiscent taste, which is often good enough for me, you know.
Vietnamese iced coffee pavlova
FOR THE VIETNAMESE ICED COFFEE PAVLOVA:
- 6 egg whites at room temperature
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
FOR THE COFFEE DRIZZLE
- 397 g tin of condensed milk
- 3 tablespoons or 1 shot freshly brewed Vietnamese or regular espresso
- 4 tablespoons caster sugar
- Line two large baking trays, and, using a spatula, divide the meringue into two even circles of meringue. They should be about the size and height of a cake.
- Place the pavlovas in the oven, and set the timer for 20 minutes. The pavlovas should be browned, but still slightly soft to the touch.
- Turn the oven down to 120˚C, and continue to cook the meringue for an additional hour, checking to ensure it doesn’t become overly browned. Once the meringue has cooked, turn the oven off, and allow it to sit in the cooling oven for 2 hours, or overnight.
- To make the coffee syrup, combine the coffee and the 4 remaining tablespoons of caster sugar in a small saucepan on a medium heat. Allow to bubble and thicken, until a viscous syrup has formed, and then remove from the heat.
- To assemble, place the first pavlova on your serving platter, and drizzle it with half the coffee syrup, and your desired amount of condensed milk. Layer the second pavlova on top, pressing down very gently, and repeat with the remaining syrup. You may have some syrup and condensed milk left over, depending on your taste. Serve and consume immediately.