This ethereal crown of meringue, filled with cream and berries is a Pavlova. The name comes from the ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who was performing around the world in 1926 and made a stop in the land down under. From there the details get a little fuzzy and no one is quite sure if it was a pastry chef from Australia or New Zealand who first made this dessert for her. It causes a heated debate amongst them if you declare it one way or the other, so I am staying vague on the origin. This is one of my favorite desserts, because I am a huge fan of meringue in just about any form. I love how it looks, how it tastes and the texture it lends. Pavlova, unlike other meringues, is made with vinegar and cornstarch, so the end result is crisp on the outside, but still has some tooth (chew) on the inside. Traditionally it is served with fruit, such as berries and passionfruit (that’s what is dripping off the edge) and whipped cream. I also added lemon curd, but there are no rules and you can fill this with whatever moves you.
To watch me make, shape and bake this Pavlova see my instagram video.
4 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup cold water
1 1/4 cups (250g) sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar (white wine, cider or distilled)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (make your own)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C)
Trace a 6-inch circle on a piece of parchment and set it in a baking sheet.
Whip the egg whites and salt together until medium-stiff peaks (see my meringue video on instagram)
Add the water slowly while whipping the whites on low speed. Drizzle in the sugar, then turn up the speed and whip until stiff peaks.
Fold in the vanilla, vinegar and cornstarch.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the meringue starts to turn a very pale tan color, then reduce the heat to 275°F and continue to bake for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven (don’t open the door), turn on the light in the oven (don’t stress if the light doesn’t work) and let the meringue sit in the cooling oven for at least an hour, but it can be stored like this over night.
The center of the pavlova will collapse, that’s just the nature of the beast and where you will put your filling. The outer edge may crack a touch too, but I’ve made this shape several times and it generally only cracks a little if you do not open the oven door.
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1-2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup lemon curd
Berries and Passionfruit for topping and serving on the side.