Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pavlova for a Quintet of Friends

Would you believe that this started as egg whites and some sugar?

If you are familiar with meringue you might believe me.
A little patience and some vigorous mixing, and this ~

becomes frothy like this ~

~ and finishes like this!


Pavlova is a meringue dessert named after Anna Pavlova, the ballerina who craved it while touring in Australia. It consists of a fluffy meringue base topped with freshly whipped cream and fresh fruit.
I adore the crunchy exterior surrounding the creamy marshmallow center; my friend C loves it too, so when my girlfriends came for dinner I served it for dessert.

The chemistry is fascinating.
Pavlova is served with the whipped cream and fruit placed on top and sliced like a pie;
I kept the components separate so each of us could make our own proportions; if you want more or less whipped cream or fruit (I have no taste for the cream) you can add more or skip it. Presentation isn't quite as dramatic, but you still get the yummy sounds from your guests.

Even in California, berries in January come from South America. I only buy domestic fruits so I made a thick strawberry topping using frozen California strawberries (simmered on the stove with a bit of sugar and tablespoon of water until thickened).
Use whatever you have on hand, but juicy summer fruit is better suited than the pears and oranges that are in season now.

Meringue for Pavlova
4 egg whites at room temperature
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup baker's or granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbs raspberry vinegar, or red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fit a KitchenAid mixer with the whisk attachment and whip the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt until foamy. Add the sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla and continue whipping until stiff and glossy, 8-10 minutes more. Be patient~
Meanwhile, cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a baking pan and draw an 8 inch circle in the center with a pencil. Turn the paper pencil-side down and place on the baking pan. Using a spatula, spoon the egg whites into the center of the circle and smooth into a circular shape with a flat top.

Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake about 40 minutes more. The pavlova will crack and turn a light cafe au lait color. Turn off the oven and prop the door open; let the pavlova cool here at least 30 minutes.

To Finish:

1 cup whipping cream
2 tsp sugar
strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, or any other fruit you choose

In a large bowl, beat the whipping cream and sugar with an electric mixer until lightly stiff. Spoon over the pavlova, and top with the fruit. Serve immediately.

The meringue will keep for several days plain; store leftover pavlova with cream in the fridge for a day or so.



LizNoVeggieGirl said...

Absolutely exquisite!!

Erica said...

This looks awesome. I have never tried to make anything like this, but want to try! Hope you had fun with your friends

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