Thursday, January 30, 2014

Simple & Pillowy Pavlova

Pavlova is incredibly simple to make but can easily turn into a catastrophe. The trick is knowing your oven and keeping the temperature consistent throughout the cooking time. I've adjusted this perfect recipe (originally from Donna Hay) to make a pavlova of optimal ratios (to serve about 5-6 people).

  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar (superfine recommended - I use regular sugar)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • Few drops of vanilla extract
  • 200 ml (3/4+ cup) cream, whipped with a Tablespoon of sugar and drop of vanilla extract
  • Fruit - acidic fruits best complement the sweetness and creaminess (Here, I've used about 1-2 passionfruit, 2 kiwis, 2 peaches and a handful of strawberries)
Preheat oven to 150C / 300F.

Whisk whites until they hold soft peaks. Gradually add sugar and continue whisking (about medium speed) until stiff peaks form. You also want the sugar to be completely dissolved - check by rubbing the whites between your thumb and forefinger, if grainy, keep whisking. However, it never fully dissolves for me (using regular sugar) and that's fine.

Add cornstarch (sprinkle evenly oven mixture) and vinegar and vanilla and whisk until just combined (some prefer to fold these in).

Turn out onto Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and shape into 7 inch circle. 

Decrease oven heat to 120C / 250F and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes. (If you have a gas oven, this will be the hardest part of making this! I usually have to carefully monitor the temperature and crack the oven door to maintain it.) You can insert a knife to be sure it's cooked. Turn oven off, leave the door open a bit and allow pavlova to cool completely in the oven (it will most definitely crack).

Top cooled pavlova with slightly sweetened whipped cream and fruit. I love using passionfruit for this, but if it's not available, I make a simple fruit sauce (raspberry or strawberry) to mix with the fruit. In Rosario, you can find passionfruit (maracuya) frozen from the verduleria on Mendoza, between Espana and Roca (100 grams is enough).

Oh, and eat it immediately, as the cream will start to break down the merengue, so don't assemble it until the last minute before serving.