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Recipe: Pavlova--NEW NEW
4 large eggs (let the eggs sit out for 30 minutes before you begin)
1 cup of white sugar
1 tsp of white vinegar
½ Tbl of cornstarch
1 cup of heavy cream
1 Tbl of powdered sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
(all whipped together)
or 1 can of prepared whipped cream
Various fruits: kiwi, strawberry, blackberries, raspberries and currants are my favorites. You can also use mandarin oranges, bananas, pineapple and other fruits. Just depends on your tastes. You'll need about a ½-1 cup of each fruit you choose. Choose 4 or 5.
Sauces for drizzling are optional. Chocolate sauce, caramel, or other.
To Make the Meringue
The base of a pavlova is a large meringue. It's a divine creation of egg whites, sugar, a few other bits and some magic. The outside of a pavlova is barely crunchy and the inside is as creamy as a light marshmallow.
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
Make sure you have a very clean bowl and beaters for this operation. Egg whites are picky creatures that won't cooperate if there's grease on your bowl.
Egg whites whip best at room temperature. That's why I asked you to leave the eggs out for a bit before prep. Crack your eggs and put the whites in your mixer bowl. Be very careful not to include any of the yolk. That can spoil your meringue plans. Use the yolks for another purpose.
Begin beating your egg whites on medium speed. When they have soft peaks you can begin to SLOWLY add your sugar. Just put in about a tablespoon at a time. I'm usually able to do this while the mixer continues to run. Add a bit more and continue beating. You want your egg whites to continue to rise. As you are adding the sugar you can turn the mixer up to high. You want very high peaks and a shiny surface when you are finished. When you add the last of the sugar beat just a few seconds more so your sugar dissolves. This process is probably going to take you about 5 minutes total. You want a fluffy, smooth batter. Turn mixer off and clean the beaters to get all of the meringue in the bowl.
Add your vinegar sprinkled on top along with the cornstarch. Fold this in by hand with a spatula.
Now take out a cookie sheet and cover it with a sheet of parchment paper. Parchment paper is important to this process; it's the perfect way to be able to remove your meringue without breaking it.
You are going to spread the meringue in the middle and mound it. You want a circle of meringue that is 7 - 9" across. The meringue will be standing rather high. Even 4 - 6" high. Now you want to make a dent in the middle where your whipped cream will sit later. So just take a spoon and lightly dip the middle of the meringue down about an inch from the fluffy edges. I like my meringue to have peaks around the edges and you can sort of manipulate that effect with your spoon too. Even if your meringue is just a blob of batter on your parchment paper you are going to do fine. Don't be nervous about this your first time. It's really not a science.
Bake the meringue for 1 hour and 15 minutes. You are watching for a beige crust to form around the sides and top. You don't need to baby-sit this process and don't be tempted to open the oven until the 1 hour 15 minute point is up. Now open the oven up. Turn the oven off and LEAVE the meringue inside the oven with the door open to cool completely. I just go do something else for about an hour.
After the meringue is cooled you can set it on a cake plate or stand until you are ready for final assembly and serving. Getting it off of the parchment paper can be tricky. Just gently slide a spatula underneath and work it around until you have the whole thing loosened. Then gently lift it off and take it immediately to the top of the cake plate. As the meringue continues to cool, don't get worked up if it cracks some. You'll be covering that up with whipping cream and cracks are part of the charm.
I have to tell you, most recipes will tell you a meringue can be stored in a cool, dry container. I have never been successful with this option. The meringue always tastes best if it's left untouched and uncovered. Also be sure to serve it that same day. Pavlova doesn't keep very well. I also don't make pavlova if I know it's going to be a humid day.
Okay, so after your main course you are going to retire to the kitchen to finish assembly. Whip your cream and sweeten it, or if you are in a hurry, a good can of whipped cream will do too.
The whipped cream will sit on top of the meringue with an edge of meringue under it so the whipped cream doesn't slide off. (That's why you put the dip in the middle so you could fill it with plenty of whipped cream.)
Now begin to "decorate" with your fruit. Just mound the pieces of fruit on top and around the edges of the whipped cream. The cream will hold them in place. My favorite is to top the creation with a small cluster of currants still on the vine, but you can do with small grapes or just put a big strawberry on top with the green still attached. It's gorgeous!
Time to take it and show it off with your guests. You can now cut it into wedges and serve or drizzle on a sauce before you cut. That's also beautiful and makes a bit more show out of serving your pavlova. Drizzling on sauce after you cut is another option or you can just pass sauce and let your guests drizzle to their liking. Or no sauce. The first pavlovas had no sauce.
Pavlova is gorgeous when assembled. It's not so pretty on the plate. It's sort of like a trifle. When it's in the bowl it looks grand. Then it's a pile of pudding on the plate. No matter. Pavlova tastes so dreamy that isn't a concern anymore.
I've never had any leftover pavlova.
Someone always seems to want seconds or thirds.
My first choice for pavlova is lots of berries and the currants on top. That's because of all of the color. Then another time I got "wild" and did fresh banana slices and strawberries. I drizzled it all with chocolate sauce. That was a dream come true. For another option you can go all tropical. Pineapple, banana and mandarin oranges with caramel sauce or no sauce. See? You can get massively creative with this beautiful dessert.
Enjoy. Cheers! Zola
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