I had never heard of pavlova until I started dating an Australian. Since then it has popped up in conversations, magazines and websites all around me. The colorful and tropical toppings, the mounds of whipped cream, the crunchy outside with the fluffy marshmallow center. And for all that chat and daydreaming, I’ve only actually eaten it once. And made it myself? Never.
We’ve thought about it. And there was a failed attempt during a New York winter a few years ago headed by Mr. F, but that one went awry pretty early on.
I found the Great Australian Pavlova Blog Hop and decided to join right away. Making the national dessert of Australia/New Zealand (I’m not taking sides here, you guys can battle it out) for a virtual bake-off of sorts, gave me the perfect incentive to approach this dessert of legend.
I did my research, as I knew these things were meant to be a little temperamental. I made sure my eggs were at room temperature, did not boil water or prepare anything else immediately before or during the making of my pavlova, and I left it in the switched off oven to cool down completely. I may have chosen the worst week weather-wise to make my pavlova (when will it stop raining??) but I proceeded over-cautiously and turned out an acceptable treat.
I decided to rely on Donna Hay for my pavlova base and allowed myself to go nuts on the topping. For my very first pavlova I chose to make (drum roll…):
Strawberry Rhubarb Pavlova with Vanilla Whipped Cream
(from Donna Hay)
4 egg whites
1 cup of caster sugar
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
2 teaspoons of white vinegar
Preheat oven to 150 C /300 F. Place the eggwhite in a bowl and whip with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, whisking well, until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
Add the cornflour and vinegar and whisk until just combined. Shape the mixture into an 18cm/7 inch round on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Reduce oven to 120 C/250°F and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and allow the pavlova to cool completely in the oven.
6 stalks of rhubarb, chopped into 2-3 cm/1 inch chunks
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons good honey
1/4 cup water
Bring the rhubarb, sugar, honey and water to a boil and simmer covered for about 10 -15 minutes until the rhubarb is soft. Puree in a food processor and set aside to cool.
Vanilla Whipped Cream
1/2 cup thickened cream
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and whip until well combined.
Assemble the pavlova by spreading the whipped cream over your meringue base. Drizzle with rhubarb coulis and arrange fresh sliced strawberries on top.
Some useful tips I found along the way:
– Make sure the bowl you are whipping your egg whites in is completely clean and dry.
– The meringue is good to go when it has tripled in size, looks thick and glossy and stands up when you take the beaters out.
– To test if the sugar is fully dissolved, rub a little between your fingers – if it’s grainy, it’s not dissolved.
– After the baking time is up, turn off your oven and let the pavlova and the oven cool down together with the door closed. This helps dry it he pav out and (with the help of the cornflour and vinegar) gives it a crunchy shell.
– You can store the base in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Once you add the toppings, serve immediately!
I knew going in, my first pav wouldn’t be the most creative or the prettiest but I am happy with my first attempt! No disasters or complications, in fact I thought it was a lot of fun to make.
Maybe this qualifies me for some sort of Embracing Aussie Culture badge? No? I’ll settle for temporary residency then!
To see more pavlovas or share your own pavlova go to: The Great Australian Blog Hop