(Australian meringue with whipped cream and fruit)
Both Australia and New Zealand lay claim to the birthplace of this heavenly dessert, created to honor the great Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova during her visit in the 1920s. Often called "pav" for short, it is a baked meringue, crispy on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside, that is spread with whipped cream and topped with fresh fruit.
Pavlova is a favorite for Aussie Christmases. In New Zealand, it is often a stand-in for birthday cake.
6 to 8 servings
- Egg whites, room temperature -- 6
- Salt -- pinch
- Superfine sugar (see notes) -- 1 1/2 cups
- Cornstarch -- 1 tablespoon
- Vinegar -- 2 teaspoons
- Vanilla -- 1 teaspoon
- Whipped cream -- 2 cups
- Fresh fruit (see variations) -- 3 cups
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper, and use a plate or pie tin to draw a 9-inch circle in the middle of the paper with a pencil. Turn the paper over so the circle is on the bottom.
- Add the egg whites and salt to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high until the whites form soft peaks, about 1 minute. With the mixer still running, slowly add the sugar and beat on high for another minute or so until the whites hold firm, shiny peaks.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift the cornstarch over the beaten whites. Add the vinegar and vanilla and gently fold them all into the whites with a spatula.
- Scoop the meringue into a pile in the circle on the parchment paper and smooth them out with a spatula. Use the spatula to make a gentle depression in the middle of the meringue.
- Reduce the oven heat to 250°F. Place the meringue in the oven and bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn off the oven, leave the door closed and let the meringue cool completely in the oven.
- Carefully remove the pavlova from the baking sheet and center it on a serving platter. Spread the top evenly with whipped cream and arrange fruit nicely on the top. To serve, cut into wedges.
Pavlova Notes and Variations
- Fruit: All kinds of fruit can be used for pavlova, although a mixture of tart and sweet fruits nicely complements the sweetness of the meringue. Given the dessert's origin Down Under, kiwi and passionfruit are good to use. Or try strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, bananas, blueberries or mangoes.
- To make individual pavlovas, spoon the merigue into 8 to 10 3-inch rounds and bake for 50 minutes to an hour.
- Drizzle with fruit purees or even chocolate sauce.
- For the vinegar, try using raspberry vinegar to give the meringue a subtle berry flavor.
- To make superfine sugar, put regular sugar into a blender and run it until the sugar becomes very fine.
- Pavlova meringue can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container for up to a week.