First let me apologize for the horrible picture– I am sorry! However, there is an explanation as to why this photo is more horrible than usual.
I was cooking 3 things at once! With two other people! It was Easter and my roomies also needed to use the kitchen! I transported this pavlova to its destination on a 30+ minute bus ride! My fruit was a little over-ripe!
There… do you forgive me yet? I promise to work harder on my food presentation and photography skills. After all, David Lebovitz (one of my heroes) says, “You eat with your eyes,” and I for sure want to make things look appetizing on this blog!
This pavlova was born because it was Easter (my favorite holiday), and one my good friends Sam was holding a potluck dinner at his apartment. I asked Sam what I could contribute, and he declared that I should definitely make a pavlova. This was quite fitting, seeing as we all knew Sam loves pavlova, and I only ever make desserts. Hehe. I had never even heard of such a dessert before I came to know Sam (who by the way, is a pretty big foodie guy), so it may be a good idea to explain what the deal is for those of you who haven’t heard of it either!
This delectable delicacy hails from the Australian continent, and I say “continent” because there’s a big hullabaloo about whether it originated in Australia or New Zealand (most people say it comes from New Zealand). It was named after a famous ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who was on tour down under in the 20′s. It consists of a BIG HUNK of meringue (basically a cake of meringue), topped with whipped (chantilly) cream, and then topped with any chopped fruit of your liking. Pretty simple, right? I used whatever fruit I had on hand, and chose to include kiwi’s of course, ’cause kiwi’s are native to the Australia/NZ and I am authentic like that.
Despite the shortened time this meringue had to cool (we were in a rush to catch the bus!), and the bumpy ride it experienced thereafter, the guests at the potluck dinner enjoyed it immensely! It comes out so light, crunchy and sweet, like a soft crisp cloud! Combined with the smooth richness of the whipped cream and the tart fruit on top, this dessert makes for a crowd-pleaser. Not to mention, the colorful array is eye-catching and a true showstopper. Oh, how could i forget!? It’s a low-fat option compared to many other desserts (although that wasn’t our main concern, right?)! Please make this for your next get-together–and soon!–before all the delicious summer fruit goes out of season! Your friends who have had pavlova before will be so pleased that they could revisit this exotic treat, and those who haven’t heard of it before will be doubly impressed!
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 c. powdered sugar (granulated is fine, too)
1 tsp. white vinegar
1/2 tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1. Preheat your oven to 275 and place the rack in the middle
2. On a piece of parchment paper, trace a 7-inch diameter circle. Flip the paper over onto a baking sheet so that the pencil-lead is facing downward. You don’t want pencil lead in your pavlova!
3. Beat the whites on medium high speed in a large bowl till they form soft peaks.
4. Add the sugar very gradually while keeping your mixer on. Continue beating till you have glossy peaks.
5. At this point, reduce your mixer speed to slow and mix in the vanilla, cornstarch, and vinegar. I read somewhere that the vinegar gives your meringue that toasty pale-brownish color when it comes out of the oven.
6. Now tip all of the whipped egg whites into the circle on the baking sheet. You can use a spatula to make the edges of the circle a bit higher than the middle. You want a slight bowl shape in your meringue so that it can hold the whipped cream and the fruit.
7. Bake that meringue for about 1 hr and 15 minutes. In this waiting time, you can wash and chop the fruit, and make the whipped cream.
8.To make the whipped cream, beat the cream and vanilla until it forms peaks. Simple as that! It also helps to use a metal bowl that has been placed in the freezer!
9. When the meringue has finished baking, turn off the oven and open the door of the oven so that it is slightly ajar. This is to let the meringue cool slowly. 30 minutes like this should be just fine!
*Note* [i.e. you can skip this part if you like]: We do this because the egg whites have little tiny air bubbles whipped into them. The heat of the oven causes the gas in these bubbles to expand (PV=nRT! shoutout, high school chem teacher!), and cooling the meringue too rapidly would cause these bubbles to deflate in a second. The meringue could then collapse and crack, which we don’t like. The same goes for baking souffles and cheesecakes. It’s better to have a pretty, puffy souffle and a smooth, non-cracked cheesecake, so cooling slowly is the best way to go.
10. Assemble by adding the whipped cream and the chopped fruit on top! Serve immediately after assembling (you don’t want the cream to make the meringue soggy!)
There you go! A dessert that consists of ingredients everyone has in their fridge or pantry, that is visually pleasing, that doesn’t take crazy amounts of skill to tackle, and that is above all, extraordinarily delicious. What more could you ask for? Well, I guess I would ask for a table full of friends to share it with… :)
What about you? Have you tried pavlova before? Do you think you could make this for your buddy next door? Any tips you have for me and the next time I make this? Let me know in the comments below!
Note #2: Do you find that you dislike mangoes? Could it be that the type you originally tried was full of displeasing fibers that stuck in your teeth? I’m here to tell you that there is hope for a mango victim such as yourself. You see, there are two most common types of mangoes that you might find in your grocery store– Tommy and Kent. Tommy is the evil, fibrous kind. He’ll bother and pester you until you just leave him alone. He can only be dealt with if you pulverize him to a soup/puree. Kent on the other hand is the sweet and agreeable mango. He’s not tough, or gritty, or sinewy, or wiry, or coarse. He’s just tender all the way through. :) Try a Kent mango and maybe your mango-jaded outlook will change!
Note #3: Many people find cutting up mangoes to be difficult. I sure did when I was first faced with the task! However, observing my mom and her mango cutting/eating skills, I learned quickly how to best maneuver around the oblong pit.
- A mango is oddly formed! It is round, but two faces of it’s oblong shape are wider/bigger than the other two. In this picture above, the wider faces are toward us and behind the mango, while the smaller/narrower faces are on the top and the bottom of the picture.
- The goal is to cut the mango flesh off the long seed, so leave the skin on and basically cut off the two wide faces of the mango with your knife.
- Take the two wide faces that are now separate from the pit, and score them with inch-wide squares. Run your knife along the skin to separate the squares. You’ll get perfect little mango cubes!
- The flesh on the two narrow faces of the mango still contain a lot of fruit! Feel for the pit with your knife and cut those sides off too. Score them as much as you can, and cut off the squares, just as you did with the wider faces.
- Now make like me and munch on the remaining mango flesh that surrounds the naked pit. :) Mmm now I’m craving some, and badly!