Dessert: Mini Pavlovas - Natasha's Kitchen
How to Make Pavlova
Pavlova is a light, airy meringue topped with fruit slices and whipped cream. Legend says that it was created in honor of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova on her visit to Australia and New Zealand for a ballet tour early in the 20th century. This creamy dessert is the perfect end to a summer's meal. See Step 1 to learn how to make it.
For the Base
4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar (super fine white sugar)
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Topping
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups sliced fruit such as strawberries or kiwifruit
Making the Meringue
Assemble the ingredients.Pavlova has very few ingredients, but each one is very important. Don't make substitutions for any of the ingredients, since the texture of the dessert depends on the precise chemistry of each one.
Preheat the oven to 275 °F (135 °C).Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven.
Prepare a baking sheet.Tear off a large sheet of parchment paper and place it on a baking sheet. Trace around the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan to draw a circle on the parchment paper. You'll spread the meringue mixture inside the circle to bake it.
Mix the sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.If you'd like, add a pinch of salt as well.
Separate the egg whites from the yolks.It's very important to make sure the egg whites don't get tainted by bits of yolk; this will prevent your meringue from stiffening.
- Make sure you pour the whites into a very clean, dry metal mixing bowl. Water or bits of oil will affect the texture of your meringue.
- Keep the yolks for a different recipe, or make an omelette later.
Beat the egg whites.Use with a hand mixer on high speed for about 5 minutes, or beat with an egg whisk, until soft peaks form.
Add the castor sugar mixture by the teaspoonful.Keep beating the egg whites and add the sugar mixture teaspoon by teaspoon. Continue until you run out of sugar and the whites have formed stiff, glossy peaks.
Add the vinegar and vanilla.Pour the vinegar and vanilla over the peaks and keep beating until everything is mixed together. The vinegar will help the meringue stay crispy around the edges and soft in the middle as it bakes.
Baking the Meringue
Spoon the mixture into the parchment circle.Use the back of the spoon to spread it evenly. It should be approximately dinner plate roundness in size.
Create a small indented hollow in the centre.Pavlovas should be round with a little hollow that takes the cream and topping, so it helps to imagine that you're making a nest shape with slightly raised edges.
- If your shape is on the oblong side of circular, don't worry too much about how accurate the circular shape is - creative misshapes are permissible as long as the topping stays put.
Bake the meringue.Place it in the oven and cook for 60-70 minutes, or until crisp. Don't let the meringue over-brown; it should be an off-white color on the outside when it's ready.
Remove the pavlova from the oven.Place it on a wire rack to cool. Transfer it to a serving dish and prepare to add the toppings. Allow the meringue to cool completely before finishing the dish.
- There's a tradition to turn the pavlova over and decorate the base because it is said that this side is less crisp. Sometimes this reason is actually a nifty cover-up trick for little cooking mistakes like over-browning the top. Either way, the pavlova centre will quickly lose its initial crispness anyway because of the whipped cream and topping.
Finishing the Pavlova
Prepare the toppings.Whip the cream and sugar until the cream forms soft peaks. Slice the strawberries and kiwis or other fruit toppings. If there's time left, research the origins of the pavlova and make up your own mind about who invented it.
Add the whipped cream.Spread it evenly to the edges of the meringue. Use the cream to fill in cracks and cover other imperfections.
- You can also flavor the cream if you'd like - try a teaspoon of vanilla extract, rosewater, orange water, lemon extract, or almond extract.
- Although whipped cream is traditional, you might like to vary the whipped cream with other soft creamy like substances such as custard. This would be frowned upon by traditionalists but experimental cooks have creative license.
Arrange the fruit on top.Lay the strawberry or kiwi slices in a pretty pattern over the whipped cream. Another popular tradition is to drizzle freshly opened passionfruit over the top of the pavlova.
- Other topping ideas include a mixture of berries, sliced cherries, apricots, mangoes or peaches, grated dark chocolate, or a mixture of chocolate and raspberries.
Serve the pavlova.The beauty of a pavlova is in the eye of the creator; everyone else just wants to eat it. Don't be surprised at how quickly your creation disappears.
QuestionCan I make it without cornstarch?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, the starch gives the Pavlova its substance, it's the binding agent. You cannot substitute it with flour, as that is usually not ground as fine as starch.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I stop a pavlova from cracking?Vivi FCommunity AnswerDon't overbeat your mixture. Use eggs with a room temperature as cold eggs take longer to beat, then only beat your eggs until the sugar dissolves.Thanks!
QuestionOnce it is made, how long will a pavlova last in an airtight tin?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGenerally it will last for a couple of days, but if it is completely dried out and not soft in the center, it will keep longer, maybe a week or two.Thanks!
QuestionWhy does sugary liquid run out of the pavlova when it is baking?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou may have used too much sugar.Thanks!
QuestionIs a meringue the same as a pavlova?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. Pavlova is the meringue shell.Thanks!
QuestionDo I have to use a metal bowl or can I use plastic?Top AnswererYou can use any type of large mixing bowl you have on hand.Thanks!
QuestionDo I have to use just the white of the egg?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. You never want egg yolks to fall into the batter; even a tiny amount of yolk will affect your pavlova.Thanks!
QuestionCould I add lemon instead of vanilla to make it zestier?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you could. You could also add orange zest!Thanks!
To make pavlova, start by combining corn starch and sugar, then beat it into 4 egg whites 1 teaspoon at a time. When the mixture develops stiff peaks, mix in the vinegar and vanilla. Pour the mixture into a round tray covered with parchment paper and make an indent in the middle for the topping to sit in later, then bake the meringue at 270 degrees F for 60-70 minutes. Allow the pavlova to cool on a wire rack before spreading the whipped cream on top. Finish by topping your pavlova with strawberries or kiwi slices.
- A dainty variation is to make this mixture as outlined but to create four "mini pavlovas". Just spoon out four evenly sized dollops on the tray and cook as instructed above, but only for 50 minutes. These will cook as little "puffs" and won't have the hollow; they are best served with a dob of cream on top and a berry coulis drizzled over the top (or serve the cream to the side of the plate). This is a lovely wedding, buffet or cocktail idea but you'll need to adjust the ingredient amounts depending on how many serves you need.
- Use eggs that are room temperature for the best results.
- Pavlova is best eaten day it is made; it goes soggy and absorbs fridge odours quickly if left longer.
- Aussies and Kiwis are fond of shortening their words. So, the pavlova is fondly known as a "pav".
- If it burns, cut off the burned bits and slather the remaining pavlova with cream and topping. If it sinks, slather it with cream and topping. While the ideal pavlova is symmetrical, balanced and clear of flaws, unless you're a chef, this is a very forgiving dessert and as long as it still tastes good, people won't really notice.
- Disasters that may befall a pavlova include: Browned too much from overcooking; burning because you forgot to take it out on time; or sinking because you got impatient and opened the door too soon. If it is overbrowned, it'll probably be chewy - but there are people who like it chewy; just slather on lots of cream and topping.
- Never bring up the question of who invented the pavlova at a dinner party containing both Australians and New Zealanders. Most likely it will result in a huge dispute.
- If it is completely burned, crumbly, or sunken, compost it and start again. If all else fails, run down to your local supermarket - most Australian and New Zealand supermarkets stock pre-made pavlova cases in their bakery section.
Sources and Citations
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