During a visit to Australia last year, I was given a list of foods to try from a fellow traveling Aussie. I am proud to say that we checked everything off the list but one: pavlova. The fruit-topped meringue never popped up on the menu at restaurants we visited so I was determined to try the elusive dessert at home.
While traditionally considered an Australian invention, New Zealand disputes the claim and insists they created it. Whether it is the brain child of a Kiwi or an Aussie this light, fluffy dessert was perfect for a summer night. I found the recipe The Gourmet Cookbook by Ruth Reichel, which is an intimidating 1,000+ pages with no pictures. However, the instructions are clear and the pavlova was a hit at a family dinner.
For the Pavlova:
4 large egg whites, at room temp.
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the whipped cream:
1 1/2 cups very cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar (aka powdered sugar)
Recipe calls for kiwi
I used fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
Store-bought fruit sorbet
- Put an oven rack in the lower third of oven and preheat to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper (the later is my personal choice for baking).
- Beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until whites just hold soft peaks. (I used my Kitchenaid but you could also use a hand mixer.)
- Add the granulated sugar a little at a time, beating at a low speed. Once incorporated, then beat at a high speed until meringue holds stiff, glossy peaks, about 2 minutes. Beat in vinegar, cornstarch and vanilla.
- With back of spoon, spread meringue into six 3 1/2-inch rounds on baking sheet, making a slight depression in center of each (to hold the fruit). Bake until crisp on outside but soft in the middle, about 1 hour.
- Carefully peel parchment from meringues and cool meringues on a rack for at least 20 minutes. Can store up to a day in an airtight container.
- Beat cream with confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl until it just holds stiff peaks.
- Top pavlova with whipped cream and your choice of fruit. Enjoy!
For me, it was hard to make a depression in the uncooked meringues. I didn’t stress too much knowing that they would be covered in whipped cream and fruit so no one could see if it wasn’t perfect underneath.
My family loved it! And it was fun to have individual desserts. The best way to describe the meringue is like a marshmallow with a crispy outside. Those who love marshmallows LOVED the dessert. However, it was a bit sweet for some (me) so you could separate into smaller servings. I would make your own whipped cream vs store bought to counterbalance the sweetness. Store bought would have made the entire dish too sweet for me.
I was very nervous about the whole beating process. “Is this peak stiff enough?” “Would you describe this peak as glossy?” But I watched a couple of YouTube videos to get an idea of the process and it turned out pretty good.