The Pavlova is a much celebrated Australian creation. Or is it? This delicate desert is part of a great debate between Australians and New Zealanders who both lay claim to its invention.
The Pavlova, with its thin meringue shell and marshmellowy centre, was aptly named after Russian prima ballerina, Anna Pavlova who visited New Zealand in 1926 and Australia in 1929. Some evidence seems to point to a chef in Wellington creating the Pavlova after being inspired by the prima ballerina's tutu. The Pavlova is New Zealand's national dessert.
Anyway, kudos to whomever the inventor was and thank you for creating such an extravagantly light dessert. Light in weight but perhaps not calories so much.
The most important thing to remember when preparing the 'Pav' is that you MUST use scrupulously clean utensils. Even the tiniest bit of grease or egg shell will hinder the meringue-making process and result in a messy disaster.
This was my second attempt at making a Pavlova and needless to say, I was very pleased with the result. It was touch and go however though because when I opened the oven door to let the Pavlova cool, the top of the base just sank. Just like that. It was a VERY stressful moment as I had been proudly watching its magical metamorphosis for several hours, only to have it collapse in three miserable seconds.
Thankfully, this development was not a catastrophic one as we simply piled on some extra whipped cream to fill the hole. Joy.
4 large room temperature Egg Whites
1 cup of Castor Sugar, also known as 'Berry Sugar'
1 tsp of White Vinegar
1/2 tbs of Cornstarch
1 cup of Whipping Cream
1/2 tsp of Pure Vanilla Extract
Fresh Fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, kiwi fruit, passionfruit, bananas, blueberries
- Preheat the oven to 140 degrees and place the rack in middle of the oven. Line a baking tray with foil and draw a 7 inch circle on the foil with a blunt knife. Set aside.
- In a clean medium-sized bowl, mix the egg whites with a clean electric mixer on medium speed. Whip until the whites form soft peaks.
- Add the sugar to the egg whites, one gentle teaspoon at a time. Don't just lump the sugar in the bowl, try sprinkling it instead and never stop whipping until you finish the sugar. Your egg whites should now be glossy stiff peaks. Taste the mixture and if the sugar is still gritty then keep whipping for a few more minutes until the sugar is dissolved.
- Sprinkle the cornstarch and vinegar on the meringue and fold gently with a plastic spatula.
- Now gently spread the meringue in the circle on the foil and make sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher then the centre so you have a slight well in the middle.
- Bake the meringue for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it goes a very pale egg shell colour and is hard to touch on the outside.
- Turn the oven off and leave the door slightly ajar to let the meringue cool completely. As the meringue cools, it will crack slightly.
- Just before serving, take the meringue out of the oven and remove it gently from the foil and place on a plate.
- Whip up the cream with the vanilla extract until it forms slight peaks. Prepare the fruit.
- Gently spread the cream to the top of the meringue and arrange the fruit on top.
*Recipe adapated from Joy of Baking.