Despite its show-stopping beauty, a Pavlova is inexpensive, and easy to prepare; you simply need to follow the proper techniques.
FOR THE PAVLOVA BASE (MERINGUE):
- 3/4 cup of egg whites
- 1 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM & TOPPINGS:
- 1 cup cold, heavy whipping cream
- 1-2 tablespoons of sugar
- Fruit topping
- We created the Pavlova pictured here in late Spring; that means that cherries, and late spring berries (blueberries, strawberries, etc.) are plentiful. Nearly all fruits will give up their juices when chopped, and tossed in sugar and a pinch of salt. This process is known as maceration, and provides a delicious, natural syrup to any dessert.
GET CHEFFY TIP!– As mentioned, the fruit you use should always be seasonal. We created our Pavlova in June/Late Spring, so we used sweet, dark cherries as our fruit. However, if you’re creating your Pavlova in Winter, tropical fruits (oranges, pineapples, etc.) are ripe, and available, and make for a show stopping fruit dessert.
GET CHEFFY TIP!– Always taste your fruit; how much sugar does it need? At times, very ripe fruit won’t require much sugar; if your fruit is less ripe, you may need to increase the amount of sweetener. This is purely a subjective matter of taste, and, as a Get Cheffy home-cook, you want to become comfortable with tasting your cooking as you go to understand how you need to balance, and adjust.
- Begin by turning your oven to 250 degrees. The rack you’ll be baking on should be in the middle position.
- Combine your 3/4 cup of egg whites and 1 1/2 sugar together in the bowl of a standing mixer*.
- *You’ll want to heat whisk your egg whites and sugar immediately; do not add the sugar and walk away…..begin mixing as soon as they touch or your sugar will “cook” the egg whites creating tiny granules that can’t be removed.
- Take your bowl, or standing mixer base, and place over a pan of 1 inch of simmering water. This is sometimes referred to as a “double boiler”, and is a gentle way to heat something up. Don’t let your bowl touch the water, and don’t boil your water on too high a heat. A gentle simmer is all that’s needed.
- Whisk your egg whites and sugar until they reach 165 degrees; about 5-8 minutes.
- Once your egg whites have come up to temperature, attach your mixing bowl to your stand, and whisk on high for 4 minutes*. Your egg whites will be shiny and glossy looking, similar to marshmallow fluff.
- *You can whisk by hand too if you don’t own a standing mixer. You can also use a handheld mixer. If you mix by hand, you may be whisking for twice as long; and you’ll have the arms of a weight lifter afterwards…..switch hands when one arm becomes tired!
- Once your egg whites have been whisked into stiff peaks*, scrape down the sides of your bowl, and add your cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla. Re-whisk for 30 seconds until you’ve re-combined all ingredients.
- *”Stiff Peaks” simply means that, when your whisk is taken out of the mixture, the mixture stands straight up on your whisk, and does not bend, curl, or fold over (which would be considered a soft or medium peak).
GET CHEFFY TIP!–Get as creative and hilarious as you’d like with your flavorings. Grand Marnier, Kahlua, Almond Extract, Lemon/Orange rind, Cocoa Powder, etc., can all be played with to change the flavor profile of your dish.
- Take a baking sheet and line with parchment paper. If you’d like, you can trace a shape for yourself on one side of your parchment with a market or pencil. Make sure you flip the parchment over and pour your meringue onto the unmarked side of your parchment.
- Scoop your meringue onto your parchment paper and gently move your mixture around to create any shape you like. We did a traditional disc shape that was slightly more depressed in the center, with raised edges, to help hold in the fillings.
- Bake at 250 degrees for 1-1.5 hours. If you’re unsure about the meringue being cooked, check it at the 1 hour mark to see if it will easily release from the parchment around the edges, and has a hollow sound when you tap it. It will sound dry and crisp when it’s done baking.
- Turn off your oven, but keep your meringue inside. Prop the door of your oven open with a wooden spoon/spatula/utensil, etc. or simply keep the oven door open an inch or two*. Allow the meringue to cool for 1-2 hours in the turned off oven.
- *Meringues don’t like sudden changes in temperatures…..I learned this the hard way when I hastily took a meringue out of the oven and popped it into its carrier to be assembled at a party….it dissolved into goo on the car ride over.
- After your meringue has gently cooled in the oven for 1-2 hours, you can remove it to finish cooling on the countertop. You can store your meringue in a cool, dry place for up to three days at this point.
- If you’re making a Pavlova with a fruit topping, chop your fruit a day in advance to allow time for maceration. We chopped our cherries the day before serving and added less than a tablespoon of sugar, and a pinch of salt, to get their juices extracted.
- When you’re ready to serve your Pavlova, take your cold cream and whip until soft/medium peaks are formed. Spoon your whipped cream onto your meringue disk and top with any fruits, nuts, or other items you like. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, and up to 1 hour, to soften the meringue. Use a serrated knife to cut clean, and even slices.