Rose syrup poached fig & pomegranate pavlova recipe

FigPomegranatePavlovas1 © J Horak-Druiff 2013

When I was about twelve, my mom had our bedrooms re-carpeted. I adored all the books of carpet samples that littered the house and spent hours poring over them, trying to imagine how each might look in my room.  In the end, I announced my choice:  a pale pink shag-pile carpet.  Luckily, my mother was wise to the ways of a teenage girl – she smiled, nodded… and ordered me a nice, neutral cream carpet – something that I would thank her for 8 years later when I was deep in my Goth phase and would have been deeply mortified by a pink carpet.

Pink is the colour of crocheted baby booties; of candyfloss; of the sweet innocence of childhood; of fluffy toys; of uncomplicated emotions, inexperience and naiveté.   In colour therapy, constant over-use of pink is said to make us immature, silly and girlish, abandoning our adult responsibilities. (It is also the colour that they paint some rooms inside of psychiatric institutions to calm patients down to meek, mild biddability – but that’s a whole other story!). Do these sound like characteristics you would like to celebrate?  No?  So then why, oh why, is the internet innundated  with pink fairy cakes, drinks, desserts and other pink flotsam and jetsam this week in celebration of Valentine’s Day?  Do we really want to celebrate this day dedicated to love, the most passionate of human emotions, looking like a pre-teen girl’s wardrobe exploded on our screens?


FigPomegranatePavlovas2 © J Horak-Druiff 2013



Red? Now the colour red is a whole other story.  Red is a stimulant colour so powerful that  studies show that red can have a physical effect, increasing the rate of respiration and raising blood pressure. Red is the colour of blood coursing through our heart, or blood spilt as Cupid’s arrow hits home. Flashing red lights denote danger; red carpets denote adulation. It is the colour of revolution and of roses; of celebration and mourning. Red is both Cupid and the Devil, straddling the divide between danger and delight. Now wouldn’t that be a more appropriate way to celebrate a day of love, an emotion that can evoke  such bitter conflict, and such sublime reconciliation?


Figs © J Horak-Druiff 2013


Entirely by premeditation, the two fruits I chose for my Valentine’s dessert are both ruby red – and coincidentally they are both considered to be aphrodisiacs.  The pomegranate with its multitude of seeds has long been considered a symbol of fertility, and recent recent scientific studies have shown that consuming pomegranate juice can in fact send testosterone levels spiking and increase the libido in both men and women. The fig is one of the world’s oldest cultivated fruits (it appears in the very first book of the Bible) and has long been thought to resemble male testicles when intact and female genitalia when cut open, thereby securing it a permanent place in the pantheon of sexy fruit.   I think few of us can deny that there is something distinctly anthropomorphic about the fig, from its velvety skin to the easily-bruised vulnerability of its flesh, to its concealed blood red interior – and as it turns out it is packed with nutrients that pep up your libido (manganese, magnesium, vitamin E, zinc, iron and potassium).


Figs&Pomegranates © J Horak-Druiff 2013


I also happened to have a bottle of rose petal syrup handy which I bought bought from a charming young man last March at the Neighbourhoods Market in Cape Town, and had been dying to use.  Throw in some swirly meringue nests for sweetness, and some cardamom pods for spice and voila – I had my Valentine’s dessert.  So let”s wave goodbye to the vision of Valentine’s day that looks like an adolescent girls’ wardrobe; and let’s spice things up a little in the red hot luuurve department with this altogether more grown up edible expression of love.


FigPomegranatePavlovasDiptych © J Horak-Druiff 2013


 Other bloggers practising their pavlovas:





5.0 from 2 reviews
Rose syrup poached fig & pomegranate pavlova recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This dessert is easy to make and provides a touch of grown-up glamour to any Valentine's Day celebration.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 2
  • 4 ripe purple figs
  • 75ml rose petal syrup (can also use pomegranate molasses)
  • 75ml rosé wine
  • 3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1 Tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 Tbsp pomegranate arils
  • 2 individual meringue nests (homemade is best, but store bought is fine)
  1. Wash the figs and slice them in half from top to bottom. Heat the rose petal syrup, rosé wine and cardamom pods in a small saucepan and when it starts bubbling, add the fig halves, cut side down. Allow to simmer gently for 5 minutes, then turn them over and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes before removing from the heat. Allow to cool.
  2. In a clean, dry bowl, whip the cream together with the caster sugar until soft peaks form. Stir 2 Tbsp of pomegranate arils into the whipped cream.
  3. Place the meringue nests on separate plates. Place one or 2 fig halves in the base of each nest and spoon over a little of the poaching liquid. Divide the cream in half and spoon half into each nest.
  4. Sprinkle half the remaining pomegranate arils over each pavlova, arrange the remaining figs around the meringue nests, and spoon over some more of the poaching liquid.
  5. Serve immediately, with a glass of champagne.


If this recipe has put you in the mood for love, this February you can treat your beloved to a quick weekend break to Grootbos private nature reserve, a luxurious private reserve overlooking Walker Bay, South Africa – an area known for both whale watching and wine.  Only 2 hours from Cape Town, Grootbos features 27 luxury suites set among the incredible biodiversity of the Cape Floral Kingdom.  You can enjoy guided eco walking tours and horseback rides, or simply laze on the nearby beaches of Hermanus, before heading back to the reserve for a gourmet dinner.  The reserve is running a Month of Love special all through February, including special discounted accommodation rates and a free spa treatment with all bookings of 2 nights or more. I’ll be visiting them for my birthday next month and I cannot wait!

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  1. says

    Your interior decor ideas reminded me of me as a teenager. Our rooms were to be painted for the first time since they were ours and we got to choose the paint. My mother let me have my way… those two shades of pink, one light, one darker, were mine until they moved house when they retired!
    You’re so right that red is the true Valentine’s colour and your dessert looks thoroughly passionate! I’m wishing that our figs would turn that deep red inside – they stubbornly remain a pale, teenage pink!

    • Jeanne says

      Phew – so glad to hear I was not the only one mortifying myself with the choice of pink decor! Amazing that the pink stayed on the walls till they sold the house :) I hate cutting into a fig and finding it to be an anemic pink rather than a ruby red… But poaching in rose syrup does help to make them *seem* redder 😉

  2. says

    I’m just not feeling it this year Jeanne. The only feeling I get when I think about Valentines Day (and heaven forbid, a valentines blog post) is “Meh!”. Lovely dessert and I laughed about your selection of your carpet and your goth phase that followed (can’t picture that though ;))

    • Jeanne says

      Hah – how do I celebrate Valentine’s day? The last few years I have hosted a lunch/dinner for all my single friends! 😉 I will have to show you pics of my goth phase one day – black nails, black lips – the whole kit and caboodle!

  3. says

    Aww this is so pretty!! What a beautiful dessert. As for pink, well I am still in the land of pink crocheted baby booties so I guess I’m still good there :)

    When I was about 12 we redid my bedroom – with sky blue walls/ceiling which we sponge painted clouds all over, and the dark green area rug for the “ground”. I neve tired of it, I loved it up until the day I moved out of my parents’ house – I cried a little when my younger sister took over my old room and repainted it all…

    • Jeanne says

      You are excused from my pink tirade, as are all moms of baby girls ;o) I LOVE the idea of painting a cloud-dotted sky on your bedroom ceiling! Awesome. I always dreamt of having those glow-in-the-dark stars and planets on my ceiling, with all of our solar system and visible stars in their correct places!

  4. says

    This is SO beautiful and very grown up indeed. :-) I adore red in everything and can only abide pink if it’s a vivid magenta or something equally fiery. :-)

    • Jeanne says

      That’s exactly how I feel! Very bright magenta/cerise is one of my favourite colours to wear… but these fuzzy pastels just do not do it for me. It’s red all the way, baby!

  5. says

    Grootbos… horse riding! Its an amazing place, wish I spent longer than one night there and so wish I could go back!

    As for the dessert, only one thing I can say… temptress

  6. says

    What a treat for all our senses! Simply breathtakingly beautiful. I love meringues but have yet to make a pavlova, must try soon! As a teen and preteen I actually hated pink, but feel drawn to it in my (arrgh! might as well admit) middle age! I do hope that does not mean I am growing senile 😉

  7. says

    I love your adult dessert. (I have such an aversion to pink that when instructed by my sister to buy a pink dress, I went out and got the closest thing I could get to pink: a pale dove blue)

    Those figs look fantastic! Alas, I’m always too cheese-paring to buy figs. The same goes for pomegranate. Your pavlova is almost swaying me into prying my penny-pinching (oops, nickel-pinching – no more Canadian pennies) fingers apart to get some of those beautiful red fruits.

  8. Louise at Cake and says

    These look spectacular! The red against the white works beautifully. What an inspiring desert – great photography too!