Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pavlovian Yumminess

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Tonight was kind of crazy in the kitchen! The goal was to cook dinner for all of us (plus my sister-in-law Amanda) including a new dessert...all of which eventually happened but it took 3 or 4 of us to make it possible - thankfully we have a big kitchen!

Let me start by telling you that meringue and I have a love/hate relationship. I can never seem to make meringue right the first time! I usually have to throw the first batch away because it never "peaks up" the way it should and have to start all over. So, I never start a meringue without having at least a dozen eggs on standby.

Still, knowing this, I decided I wanted to try to make this new dessert I saw called a "Pavlova". It's a baked meringue with whipped cream and fruit layered on top. Yum, right? So my first meringue attempt was an epic fail. Do I have photos of it? No. Not because I'm embarrassed, but because they would have been photos of a bowl of white, slightly thickened goo. Not so exciting.

What I didn't anticipate tonight was that I wouldn't have time to re-make dessert because I was also cooking dinner! So Aaron stepped in...my fabulous fiance who has never made meringue in his life totally rocked this dessert! We did make a lower fat version and substituted nonfat whipped topping for the "real" whipped cream, but it was still delicious. Check it out...


Ingredients for the Meringue
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 6 large egg whites
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Ingredients for the Whipped Cream and Fruit Topping
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 teaspoon almond extract
- 4 cups mixed fresh fruit, such as blueberries, blackberries, red currants, red or green gooseberries, strawberries, and/or raspberries

Make the Meringue

1. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and trace a 12-inch round on the paper with a pencil.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar and cornstarch until cornstarch is completely combined with the sugar. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until they begin to froth and turn opaque. Decrease mixer speed to low, and add the sugar mixture in 1/2-cup increments, immediately followed by the vinegar. Continue to beat on high speed for at least 2 minutes, until the whites form stiff peaks.

4. Increase the mixer speed to high and pour the boiling water into the egg whites all at once. The egg whites will swell up considerably. Beat the egg whites until the water is totally incorporated, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and continue to beat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the egg whites form stiff, glossy peaks.

With a metal spatula, take some of the meringue and carefully fill in the base of the traced circle. Continue to add meringue to shape a thick cake layer. Bake the meringue for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 200°F and bake for 40 minutes more, or until set.

6. Remove the meringue from the oven and let cool completely on the sheet on a wire rack. Once cool, gently remove the parchment paper by rolling it out from under the meringue; take care, as the meringue will be very delicate. (The baked meringue can be refrigerated and lightly covered for up to 2 days.)

Make the Whipped Cream

In a large, deep bowl, beat the cream until it begins to hold its shape. Add the sugar and the vanilla and almond extracts. Beat until soft peaks form.

Assemble the Pavlova

Carefully spread the whipped cream in a thick layer over the top of the meringue, and top with the mixed fresh fruit. Serve at once, cutting it into wedges.

Amanda obviously liked it!!!


  1. Go Aaron! I've heard this is a tough dish to make. I first had it in New Zealand when I was little. I remember thinking it was the most amazing thing! I always wanted to eat it again but my mom said that she never had success trying to make it. Then I became vegan and sadly I have not found a good vegan meringue substitute. I really want to someday though, because those French macaroons look amazing!

  2. Looks tasty! Pavlova is my brothers favourite. For meringue, I've found a combination of 2 oz sugar for every large egg white to be about right - skip the cornstarch and vinegar which most recipes have you add, and just whisk that mixture until you can turn the bowl upside down over your head without it falling out! That's the risky party trick.... :-)
    I learned all this from Delia Smith. She's like the English Betty Crocker, except she actually exists.

  3. Awesome - thanks for the tip - we'll definitely try it that way next time we give it a shot...woohoo for Delia Smith :)