Oh, dearest pavlova.
You sit on a throne, looking down your nose at your kin, the meringue, while wearing your crown of cream and luscious fresh fruit.
Is it any wonder that you reign supreme over my heart and tastebuds when summer’s sweet abundance fills my bosom with joy. The crisp crackle of your crust giving way to marshmallow-like softness, yielding to my lips as jewelled berries sit atop creamy clouds…
I was wondering how long I could keep that up. Obviously, I could never have been a medieval bard as rambling on as pointlessly as that drives me batshit bananas, but hey, I was just trying to convey a point.
And what point is that, you ask?
To express to you just how bloody awesome I think pavlovas are. You see, while we here in Australia and NZ are starting to pull on the fuzzy slippers (NO UGG BOOTS HERE!!) and curl up in corners with mugs of soup, most of my dear readers are actually prancing around and frolicking in the bloom of spring.
You northern hemisphere bastards.
No, I will not succumb to jealousy, damnit.
Instead, I will rise above it and share with you one of my favourite desserts.
As you’re most likely aware (because I know my readers are season and food-savvy folks), spring is the season for heat-loving fruit such as berries, passionfruits, mangoes, pawpaws, peaches, nectarines…
Well, when Spring hands you such a magnificent bounty, there’s a million and one ways for it to be enjoyed. However, the pavlova is, I believe, the best way to share the fructose wealth in a way that’s somewhat decadent, but doesn’t make you want to clutch your thighs and sob.
While most folks tend to enjoy creating one huge mountainous pav, I find that the best way to do it is to create mini pavlovas – that way you can try a different combination of fruits on each one, plus it’s the perfect ‘build-your-own-dessert’ for picnics and barbeques!
Pavlova Ingredients (makes 1 large pav or 10 mini ones)
6 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g caster sugar
1 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp arrowroot
2 tsp white vinegar
Any desired seasonal fruits, preferably fresh
Yoghurt Cream Ingredients
250mL thickened cream, whipped
125mL natural yoghurt, lightly whipped with a fork
2 tbsp pure icing sugar
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla extract into a clean, dry bowl till stiff peaks form. Add the sugar 1 tbsp at a time, making sure to beat well after each addition, then continue to beat till the meringue is thick, glossy and fairly firm. Beat in the cornflour, arrowroot and vinegar.
3. IF MAKING ONE LARGE PAV: Pile the meringue onto the baking paper and smooth into a large circle. Try and keep it all the same height as this will help it to bake evenly.
IF MAKING MINI PAVS: Using two tablespoons, place about 1/3 cup amounts onto the sheet, leaving about 6cm (2″) between them. Use the spoons to create a little indent in the top as this will help the fruit and cream to stay put.
Place the pavlova/pavlovas in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 120 degrees C. Bake the pave for 1 hr and 20 mins for the large or 1 hour for the small, or till the outside is firm but not browned.
4. Once cooked, turn off the oven, prop open the door with a wooden spoon and leave till the pav has completely cooled. Once cooled, it can be stored in an airtight container (without any cream or fruit) for up to two days.
And when you’re ready to serve…
Whip up the yoghurt cream by beating the thickened cream till it has soft peaks, then sprinkle over the icing sugar and beat till combined. Fold through the lightly whipped natural yoghurt.
Place a hearty dollop of cream atop each pavlova, then carefully pile on the fruit as you wish. I’m a sucker for a berry combo, but slices of mango are also delightful, as are stone fruits or kiwis (the fruits, not New Zealanders!).
Once the fruits are in place, add a decent drizzle of passionfruit pulp – the finishing touch, and something that no good pavlova should leave the kitchen without!
(Of course, this is personal preference. I’ve heard that there are some people in the world who don’t like passionfruit. I’ve never met one, but if you’re indeed one of these fabled individuals, please feel free to leave it out. Or try and develop a taste for it. I’d prefer the latter )
Of course, the only problem with pavlovas is that there is only so much cream and fruit you can place on top of it. If you’re feeling particularly generous, there’s nothing wrong with plating the pav with an extra dollop of this lovely cream and a few additional pieces of fruit
To my Melbourne readers: Come on folks, only 10 of you are interested in winning double passes to the Melbourne Good Food & Wine Show? With 5 double passes to give away, the odds are pretty good at the moment If you’d like a chance to win tickets to this year’s Good Food & Wine Show (as well as a chance to perv on the hunky Manu Feidel) or think you’d like to win some tickets for a food-mad friend or relative, make sure to comment on the previous post The competition is open till Friday 28th May so you have plenty of time to give it a try!
[tags] Antipodean, dessert, meringue, pavlova, berries, fruit[/tags]