Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pavlova

On some days, when my sweet tooth takes stronghold of my every sense, I end up making dessert before dinner. My argument is that it might help in guiding the flavor menu for the preceding meal.
A few days ago, I was in that similar quandary. I didn't quite know what dinner would be, but absolutely knew what was for dessert - pavlova... drenched in a tart, fruit sauce.

The first time I had this delicacy was right after my marriage in  the beautiful beach state of Goa( India). Known for its global food vibe and laid back lifestyle, this idyllic land was our beloved residence for over a year after wedlock.
Yes, there it was that I tried pavlova for the first time, sharing this wondrous delight with my brand new husband. Life was good.

Often referred to as a meringue cake, pavlova has a crunchy outer shell housing a chewy, marshmallow-like center. Made by beating egg whites stiff, the whole texture comes together quite easily with the help of a few other ingredients. A long, slow bake ensures the shell to be perfectly cooked, yet maintaining the soft interior.

The well- known history wrapped in this afterdinner treat features a Russian ballerina who toured Australia and New Zealand resulting in both a name- honoring dessert and a longstanding  debate. The controversy still holds strong to date as to which nation originally came up with this sweet dish. 

The pavlova's sweetness is offset by generous toppings of tangy fruits and fruit-based sauces. Further complemented with whipped cream, the end flavor is deliciously balanced and surprisingly light. 

Aah, pavlova- easy to prepare and spectacular in presentation and taste, how can you not see yourself making dessert before dinner today?


(Pavlova recipe adapted from Joy of Baking. Fruit sauce recipe is my own.)
Ingredients:
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • *1 cup superfine sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon  vinegar
  • Method:
  • **Preheat the oven to 250 °F. (please read notes)
  • Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw a 9-inch circle on the paper, using a 9-inch plate or baking pan as a guide, then turn the paper over so the circle is on the reverse side.
  • Put the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites, starting out on a medium, then to high, until soft peaks form. 
  • With the mixer still on high, gradually add the sugar, in parts and beat until it makes firm, stiff, yet glossy peaks. Do not overbeat as this will result in dry meringue.
  • Beat in vanilla. Test with your fingers to see if the meringue is smooth with no reside of sugar.
  • Sprinkle cornstarch, vinegar over the top of the beaten egg whites, slowly fold in with a rubber spatula. 
  • Pile mixture into the middle of the drawn circle  smooth, building a slightly higher edge than the center, so as to form a well (use a piping bag with a decorative tip to get pretty edges).
  •  Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, checking to see if the outside turns a pale yellow. Turn off the oven, keeping oven door slightly open and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven. 
          Piped meringue before it meets the heat.
                      
Sweetened Whipped Cream:
  • cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until firm. It helps to chill the bowl and the whisk in the refrigerator before beating.
 Berry Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade or any fruit jam
  • *1 tablespoon rum/rum extract
Place the fruit, sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour the fruit mixture along with the remaining ingredients and run in a food processor  until smooth. Chill in fridge.
Fruit Topping:
1/2 cup each of strawberries, blueberries and blackberries.
Toss the fruits in a bowl and toss with about 1/4 cup of the fruit sauce.

To serve, turn the meringue onto a serving plate and top with the whipped cream. Spoon the berries carefully into the middle of the Pavlova, leaving outer border alone. Pour extra sauce onto individual servings.

Notes: 
** Update 9/1/2014: I have baked this recipe at a slow and sure 180° F upto 200° F, actually,  for a good couple hours. I have received questions and comments as to the temp not being quite enough. For sure you can go upto 250°, but it all depends on the way your oven bakes and how hot your kitchen is. I still like a low temperature, but Joy Of Baking, the very trusty online baking source says 250. So please, err on the side of more heat, less time if you had to end up with an undercooked runny meringue in a previous attempt. I apologize if this especially happened on reading my earlier directions. 
And take it down by at least 25° if you see your meringue cracking and becoming dry on outsides, even turn pan around. Thanks very much for the feedback- I do appreciate.

For superfine sugar, process sugar in a food processor until fine, so you won't have the grit of large crystals in the meringue. If using regular sugar, process in meringue until dissolved (it usually doesn't).

Replace rum/ extract with orange juice if you don't like the flavor or when serving kids. Or don't use at all.
Cream, fruits, topping should be added only at the time of serving as the pavlova will start to soften and break down.


Experiment with fruits and sauces that please you. I've made peaches and a pureed peach/apricot preserve sauce which is wonderful when peaches are in season.

Save that leftover sauce- they make especially tasty toppers on ice cream and yogurt.

Alternate serving idea: serve crushed in dessert glasses with repeating layers of  pavlova, cream, sauce, fruits, with the crushed pavlova being the base or first layer.

I often save these online wallpapers for inspiration on mornings when I need that extra boost in a somewhat creative form. Today was one of those mornings. 



Amen to Proverbs 31.


10 comments:

  1. Thank you Chacko of Chacko's Kitchen, a compliment indeed coming from you :)

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  2. I am at awe! I love those berries on top. A truly beautiful dish! :)
    Edible Entertainment

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  3. Thank you Kavi, berries are great-nature's candy, right ?

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  4. Hi there, this is a really nice post involving eggs. It would be great if you linked to it in my brand new Food on Friday series. This week it is about all things egg. Food on Friday It would make my day if you put a link into it via the Mr Linky widget.

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  5. Thank you so much, very sweet of you, Carol. Friday Food looks fun, sure I'll look into it and link:)

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  6. You are such a star for putting up the link. Thank you very much. Hopefully soon we will have a nice collection of all things eggy!

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  7. Last week you very kindly linked an eggy post to my Food on Friday series. This week it is all about asparagus. Would love to see another contribution from you. Food on Friday

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  8. Hi Tisa. I was looking at this lovely pavlova you linked in to Food on Friday and realised that I hadn't signed up to follow your blog. I am following it now and hope you will follow Carole's Chatter back. Cheers.

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  9. Such a fun dessert! Loving all those gooey layers

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!