Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Pavlova, sweet Pavlova
I love saying that. I love eating it even more. How could you not love a dessert that is so easy to make and tastes like a sweet cloud. And fittingly enough, it's named after a ballerina. It's the perfect thing to make if you have a surplus of egg whites. And if you don't have a surplus of egg whites, make it anyway and use the yolks to make a curd or Creme Anglaise to serve with it.
For those not familiar with them, a Pavlova is basically a large (although, you can make individual ones) baked meringue that is wonderfully crisp on the outside and soft and marshmallow like on the inside. They are traditionally served with whipped cream spread on top and then the whipped cream is topped with fruit. It works best with fruit that's on the tart side as the meringue is sweet and the whipped cream rich. Good lord, I'm close to making another right now with all this seductive meringue talk...
Heat oven to 250 degrees and line a large cookie sheet with parchment
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup superfine sugar (easy enough if you blitz one cup regular sugar in a food processor for a minute)
1 TSP white vinegar (I've used apple cider in a pinch)
1 TSP cornstarch
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the egg whites on medium to soft peaks. (Confession: against all wisdom, I made this on a rainy day- a huge no no for meringue. I threw in a pinch of cream of tartar to my egg whites for extra insurance.)
With the mixer running on medium, gradually add the sugar, a spoonful at a time and continue whipping until the egg whites hold stiff peaks.
Stiff (ish) Peaks (I told you it was a rainy day)
Sprinkle the vinegar and cornstarch over the mixture and fold in with a rubber spatula. Spread the egg whites into a circle on your prepared pan, keeping the center sort of concave to make it easier to top. Some recipes will tell you to trace a circle on to your parchment with a pencil and use it for a template. You are more than welcome to do so but it's not my style. It's all about the rustic here.
And here's where I'm going to ask you to pretend yet again. I ran out of parchment and had to use foil. I don't recommend it. Use parchment...it slides right off parchment. There may have been some cursing and picking involved in removing it from the foil.
Bake the pavlova for an hour and fifteen minutes and then shut the oven off, prop the door open with a wooden spoon and let it cool inside the oven for 1-2 hours more. After it's cool it will look like this. Don't be worried if it's cracked a bit. That just adds to it's rustic charm.
I served our pavlova with very lightly sweetened, softly whipped cream and pineapple sauce. To make the pineapple sauce, I added to the food processor a half of a fresh, roughly chopped pineapple, 1/3 cup sugar and the juice of one lime. Puree until smooth. You can cook it down to thicken it up but it was cold and rainy and I desperately wanted the bright, sunny taste of fresh pineapple to lift me out of my winter induced doldrums.