Pavlova is named for Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Whether Australia or New Zealand created the dessert is a source of debate, but the dessert is an important part of the cuisine of both countries. This giant marshmallowy meringue is topped it with hand-whipped, lightly sweetened whipped cream and fruit. We suppose you could cut it into wedges, but we went with the "gather round with a spoon" approach!
Adapted from Joy of Baking
Ingredients for Pavlova:
4 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Puree
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch (corn flour)
Directions for Pavlova:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch circle on the paper. Turn the parchment paper over so the circle is on the reverse side.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat, on high speed, until the meringue holds very stiff and shiny peaks. (Test to see if the sugar is fully dissolved by rubbing a little of the meringue between your thumb and index finger. The meringue should feel smooth, not gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers). Beat in the Vanilla Puree. Sprinkle the vinegar and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and, with a rubber spatula, gently fold in.
Spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges, making sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center. You want a slight well in the center of the meringue to place the whipped cream and fruit.
Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the outside is dry and is a very pale cream color. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven. The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.
The cooled meringue can be made and stored in a cool dry place, in an airtight container, for a few days.
Ingredients for Topping:
1 cup heavy cream,
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Puree
Fresh fruit - kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, passion fruit, peaches, pineapple, or other fruit of your choice
Directions for Topping:
Combine the heavy cream and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Using a wire ballon whisk, beat the heavy cream until thickened and light—about four minutes. Beat in the Vanilla Puree. Scoop on top of the Pavlova and top with fresh fruit. Serve.