Monday, April 21, 2014

Pavlovian Response

If there's one thing I love (besides my family, of course), it's a good dessert.  And pavlova is not just a good dessert, it's an amazingly delicious dessert!  It's also fairly easy to make, although you need to start a day ahead, and hugely impressive.

From what I understand, pavlova is a popular treat in Australia.  Basically, it's a huge meringue topped with whipped cream and berries.  Airy, crispy, and sweet.  It's like a cloud of deliciousness.  I could go on all day, but instead, I'll get down to the recipe.

Like I said, you'll want to start the day before you need the pavlova.  If you're in a crunch, this probably isn't completely necessary, but the extra time and the slow cool-down make for a nicer texture.  Heat your oven to 300 degrees.

Put some parchment on a baking sheet, and sprinkle a little cornstarch on it.

Separate 4 eggs.  You'll need the whites, and make sure that no yolk gets into them!  Use the yolks for something else delicious.  This time, I made the kids some crepes for breakfast with them.

Put the whites into a large mixing bowl, and mix them until they form stiff peaks.  It takes a few minutes.  Don't over beat them, or they could get dry and start to separate.

Once your eggs are at the right point, start mixing in 20 tablespoons of sugar, one tablespoon at a time.  If you don't feel like keeping track of that, measure a cup and a quarter of sugar and then put it in a tablespoon at a time.  Same diff.  After each spoonful, makes sure it mixes in smoothly.

After all the sugar is in, mix it a bit more, until it's shiny and thickened up.

Fold in a teaspoon each of vanilla extract and lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons of cornstarch.  Be gentle with those egg whites.

Gently pour the mixture out onto the prepared baking parchment.  You want a big circle or oval, although I guess there's nothing stopping you from going with a square, or triangle, or some other fun shape.  Smooth it out from the inside out, making a kind of indentation in the center.  That's what you're going to fill with cream and fruit!

Bake it at 300 for an hour, then turn off the oven but let the pavlova sit in it overnight.  Or, if you're making it the day you need it, as long as you can let it sit.

Ease the pavlova off of the parchment gently.  It's a delicate thing.

Right before serving, pour a pint of cream in a cold mixing bowl and beat it to stiff peaks.  If you want, you can add in a teaspoon or two of sugar here, but trust me, the pavlova is plenty sweet without it.

Confession time: my cream turned on me.  In making this for Easter dessert, I went to go do this step, and found that the cream I had was no bueno.  So I adapted, and just used organic whipped cream from a can.  No biggie.

Pour the cream into the recession in the pavlova, gently spread it around, and then top it with fruit.  I prefer a mix of berries, but kiwis are traditional as well.

Slice and serve.  It just melts in your mouth...heavenly.  A great dessert for Easter, or for a summer get-together.  Actually, I'd eat it just about any time it was offered!  Yum!

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