Recipe: Pavlova Love

22 Apr

Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. It is a meringue dessert with a crisp crust and soft, light inside.

The dessert is believed to have been created in honour of the dancer either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. The nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years, but formal research indicates New Zealand as the source.

–Wikipedia

Pavlova is naturally gluten free, and in fact if you left off the whipped cream it would be practically fat free as well (but, thanks to the sugar, definitely not calorie free!). It makes a great alternative to cake or pie if you (or someone you want to bake for) is allergic to gluten, or if you just want to feel like you’re eating a sweet, fluffy, marshmallowy cloud of goodness.

My friend Angela made one pavlova, and it quickly became her default dessert, and then I started making pavlova and it’s become one of my go-to desserts, and there’s just a lot of pavlova love going on here and I think you should definitely join in!

Pavlova is great for a variety of occasions!

New Year's Eve Pavlova!

PRO-TIP: Did you know that you can freeze egg whites? You can! Next time you make a pudding or a custard or anything that calls for egg yolks, save your egg whites and freeze them (in a plastic bag or, for 1 egg portions, in an ice cube tray) and just take them out and let them thaw overnight before using them. It’s awesome! You can also purchase egg whites in a carton, of course, which I have found to work just fine for pavlova (although not as well for white cake).

Birthday/Good Luck in Thailand Pavlova!

PRO-TIP #2: Did you know that you can make your own castor sugar? Just put regular ol’ granulated sugar in a food processor, cover it with a towel (to prevent sugar dust from coating your entire kitchen), and let ‘er rip. You want something finer than regular sugar, but not as fine as powdered sugar, so just keeping checking until it looks about right to you.

Just as there are many ways to skin a cat (…I hear, anyway. I’ve never tried it) there are many ways to make pavlova. I read a dozen or so recipes, and then made up my own amalgam with a little trial and error. Here’s my Frankenstein pavlova recipe:

Pavlova

  • 4-6 egg whites (room temperature)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

Separate your eggs–this is easiest while they’re still cold–then let the egg whites come to room temperature (leave them covered for about half an hour). Beat egg whites and salt until peaks form. Continue beating, gradually adding vinegar, vanilla, and sugar until glossy, thick and stiff. Fold in cornstarch.

Pile the mixture on parchment paper, using a spatula shape it into a circle. To give your pavlova extra stability, use a small offset spatula, a knife, or a spoon to make vertical ridges around the sides of the pavlova. You can also make a depression into the center, to hold the topping. But don’t stress out about this too much–every pavlova I make looks different.

Heat oven to 300F, then turn down to 190F before putting in the pavlova. Bake for 1-2 hours, or until the pavlova is dry to the touch and a very, very pale beige. Turn off the heat, but leave the pavlova in the oven until it has cooled completely, to minimize cracks (some cracks are inevitable, though–don’t worry about them!)

Make the whipped cream just before serving:

Whipped cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 Tbs sugar (or substitute 4 Tbs honey)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Top the pavlova with the whipped cream and the fruit of your choice–anything goes! I like kiwi fruit and strawberries, personally, but any fruit will do, as will fruit curd or fruit jam or fruit compote–you get the idea. You can even do a drizzle of chocolate if you’re feeling really decadent.

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