Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pavlova, my Love

My love for baking and making treats has recently been reinvigorated... an addiction to Unique Sweets on the Cooking Channel helped it along. So I've been baking a bit. Somewhere along the way... on Pinterest perhaps... I found a recipe for Pavlova - which is essentially a large meringue cookie that you cover in whipped cream and sugar'd fruit.

It sounded really yummy, sooo... I gave it a go. 

Everything seemed to work out ok with the meringue (I was so very careful not to get a single drop of egg yolk in with the whites) and they came out as fluffy little white pillows.

The final assemblage - though I only used strawberries - looked very pretty. 

Then I chomped in... mmmm, Heaven! It was delicious! Like Strawberry Shortcake on sugar steroids!

I ended up mish-mashing two recipes and also adding vanilla, here's where I netted out:

NOTE: Almost no two Pavlova recipes are the same! In reading many recipes both in cookbooks and online, they vary quite a bit. Some call for lemon juice while others call for vinegar. Some use salt, some don't. Some say to fold in the vinegar and cornstarch at the end, barely mixing afterward, some say to beat the meringue for 5-10 minutes after adding them. Almost none call for vanilla, but I couldn't imagine how bland they'd be without it.  The baking temps and times are all over the map too. 

I'm not sure if that means it's hard to screw it up - or if it's hard to get a successful meringue. All signs point to the latter... though I think mine tasted pretty damn good.

3 eggs
1 cup superfine sugar (I processed regular sugar in food proc)
2 tsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

Cut up your favorite fruit, sprinkle with 1 tsp - 1 tablespoon of sugar and let it "marinade" from an hour to overnight.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper.

First, whisk eggs to soft, wet peaks. Slowly add 1 tablespoon of sugar at a time, beating in between to get sugar to dissolve. Save 1 tablespoon of sugar to mix with cornstarch and vinegar - mix those together and add to the mixture, then add the vanilla. Whisk for another 5-10 minutes - to get nice stiff and glossy meringue. 

To ensure the sugar is dissolved, you can rub the meringue between your fingers - you should not feel any graininess. I did this and time and time again, felt graininess, until I finally gave up, decided it was as good as it was going to get, and baked it anyway! I think the key here is castor or superfine sugar, which should blend better.

Spread meringue onto parchment paper in circles about 4" diameter, 1" high. (All the other recipes say to draw circles on the parchment... I find that unnecessary as I tend to be a "winger" wherever I can :)

Bake for 25 minutes at 300 degrees, then turn off oven but leave in for another 25 minutes (again, many other recipes call for longer times, lower oven, etc... but this worked well for the size I cooked).

Once the meringues are completely cool, top with whipped cream and fruit. Dig in!

Best to eat them within a day or two. 

I think I could eat this every day, especially with the abundance of fresh fruit this time of year... 


Julia said...

This sounds amazing! Meringue is definitely something that scares me in terms of achieving success with it in the kitchen. I think that's why I haven't attempted coconut creme or lemon meringue pie yet.

On an ROC note - Phillip's European had a cake at one time that was cake with layers of crumbled meringue, strawberries, and whipped cream. Deconstructed pavlova!

Tina said...

Hi Julia - I've had that cake at Phillip's for Jenny's birthday! Agree, it was very similar and very yummy!

You should give it a try - it seems that even if they don't come out perfect, they come out delicious. From what I read, a few key things - use the very fine sugar (or put sugar in food processor first), make sure the bowl and beaters are very clean and very dry (apparently any oil or egg yolk ruins them), and when first beating just the whites, don't let them get too dry, just soft, wet peaks.

Good luck - let me know!