Thursday, November 3, 2011

Feathery Light Pavlova

I adore Pavlova. It is one of my all time favorite desserts. A soft and spongy meringue base with a crispy exterior, topped with whipped cream and fresh seasonal fruit. This dessert is so feathery light, you'd think you were eating air. In fact, it was created to honor the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova.

You can even find pavlova bases in the supermarket. (Aussies love their meringues and pavlovas). But it tastes so much better home made.
The meringue base is so delicate, I'm not even sure the supermarket versions even have a marshmallowy inside. I don't have my trusty Kitchenaid and had to whip my egg whites by hand. It really didn't take long at all. Proof that meringue doesn't always need to be whipped by a machine.

Summer berries are beautiful to top a pavlova. So are juicy peaches, jewel like pomegranates, blood oranges, the list goes on. Passionfruit is also a classic. Any tender fruit would really do. I'm going for a bit of a tropical feel. Mango, passionfruit, and toasted coconut. I usually make one every summer, when the most beautiful fruits are in season.

(Makes one large or 6- 8 individual pavlovas)

Sometimes with all the cream, pavlova can easily feel heavy after you eat it. I've made a yogurt cream using half Greek yogurt and half cream. Feel free to use all cream, although I think only 2 cups should do.

4 egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp white vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Yogurt Cream
1 1/2 cups whipping cream, whipped to a firm peak
1 1/2 cups thick Greek yogurt
5 tbsp honey
fresh fruit to top your pavlova

Preheat the oven to 300'F (150' C). Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the egg whites and a pinch of salt. On medium speed, whip the whites until it starts to get frothy. Slowly add the sugar and continue whipping until the meringue can hold a soft peak. Add the vanilla extract and fold in.

Sprinkle in the cornstarch and the vinegar. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in. Mound the meringue on the parchment and shape it roughly into an 8" circle. (Or shape into 6 or 8 individual mounds). The meringue does not need to be perfect, in fact it's much nicer if it's swirly and cloudlike.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 mins. Turn off the oven and leave to cool a few hours to overnight.

To serve, gently transfer the pavlova to a large plate.

Combine the yogurt and honey in a bowl. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Mound the yogurt cream on the pavlova and arrange the fruit on top.

Serve immediately.

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