This is another guest post from my friend Molly. She got a bee in her bonnet to make some Pavlova, and since I don’t have time to bake everything I told her to take some pictures and send it my way! For categorizing purposes I tagged this as a cake…I have no clue where else to put it. Anyone have any better ideas? All the writing and photos are from Molly. Anywho, here’s her story about Pavlova. – Rene
Pavlova is one of my favorite foods in the whole dang world.
For those who don’t know, pavlova is a New Zealander/Australian dessert. It consists of a large meringue cake — crunchy on the outside and marshmallow-consistency on the inside — which is then topped with whipped cream and any tasty fruit & berries you want. I used blackberries and blueberries; other good fruits for it include strawberries, peaches, and kiwis.
For a long time, I had never tried to make a pavlova, because working with egg whites intimidates me. But since they were recently taken off the menu at the only restaurant I’ve ever found that served them, I knew I had to undertake the creation of a pavlova myself. *dramatic music*
I was completely anxious about trying to make this, but it turned out amazingly, and it’s a surprisingly straightforward recipe. Thanks to my meringue-loving housemates and me, the pavlova was gone in under 24 hours. (I felt compelled to make a second one two days later.) Nom nom nom.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen my comments are in italics.
Meringue Cake Ingredients
* 6 egg whites
* 1 pinch salt
* 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar
* 2 cups castor sugar or superfine sugar
* 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 cups unsweetened whipped cream
* 3/4 tablespoon cornstarch, potato starch or arrowroot powder
Note: Be sure you have the parchment paper on hand! It makes everything better.
Preheat oven to 250°F (130°C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch (18 cm) circle on the paper. (I didn’t draw a circle because I am lazy, but it worked fine just doing it by eye.)
Pour the vanilla and vinegar into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. (Since I am not an elite cook, I only have a sad old hand-mixer. That required slightly longer whisking times than stated in the recipe, but was still able to achieve the correct consistency.)
Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar. Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
Gently spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges, making sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center. (You want a slight well in the center of the meringue to place the whipped cream and fruit.)
Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the outside is dry and takes on a very pale cream color. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven. (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.) (The meringue cake cracks very easily, but don’t worry if it does. I’m pretty sure one of the main reasons the creator of pavlova put whipped cream in the recipe is because whipped cream hides everything. Add the cream & fruit, and… voila! Good as new!)
Notes: You can make the meringue cake several days in advance. Just store in a cool dry place, in an airtight container. However, once the whipped cream and fruit are placed on the meringue, the dessert should be eaten immediately as the meringue will start to soften and break down from the moisture of the cream and fruit.
Whipped Cream Ingredients
* 2 cups heavy whipping cream
* 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whip the cream in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar gradually and then the vanilla, beating the cream until firm. Be careful not to over-do it, or might end up with a bowl of homemade butter.