I have to confess that prior to the last year, I did not know exactly what a “pavlova” was, but I do remember seeing them scattered throughout my French cookbooks. I made a mental note in the back of my mind to one day try it, but that day did not come…until recently.
I had just made strawberry jam (recipe here – https://blaisethebaker.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/simple-strawberry-jam/) and was thinking about all of the different ways I could use it. Topping on angel food cake, homemade lard biscuits and on top of lady fingers were all delicious ideas, but I had tried them all – I was looking for something new. The idea of making a pavlova jumped into my mind, and I remembered wanting to try it.
I (as I always do in this scenario) started out by researching pavlova and where it came from, etc. For those who do not already know pavlova is a meringue “based” dessert that has a light and crisp crust, while still being soft and light on the inside. The dessert was named after a Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova in the 1920’s, for conflicting reasons. I also discovered that this unique dessert was cooked uniquely as well. You bake it in a “low and slow” oven for about a hour, and then turn the oven completely OFF – while still leaving the dessert inside for several more hours (over night is perfect).
It is just as fun to make and bake as it is to eat – and here is the recipe…
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 275 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Separate the eggs, collecting only the whites. Make sure there are NO traces of yolk in the whites. This is a very important step!
Add the salt to the bowl of egg whites.
Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. This should take about 4-5 minutes depending on the speed of your mixer. You will know it is at the “soft peak” stage, when you remove the mixer and there are light “soft” peaks that form.
Still beating the egg whites with the electric mixer, add the sugar a LITTLE at a time.
This step will take a little bit – but be patient.
Once the sugar has all been added, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and beat for about another minute.
Working carefully, spoon the egg white mixture out in a circle shape on the parchment paper using a metal spoon.
Work it gently and “form” a circle with the mixture. Make sure the pavlova is even across the center and about 8-10 inches in diameter.
Using the back of the spoon, working in a “circular motion”, even out the top of the pavlova.
Place in preheated oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes exactly – no longer.
Once the time is up, turn the oven OFF but leave the pavlova in! DO NOT open the oven door (even to check) for at least 8 hours. This is a perfect dessert to make the night before – to leave it in the oven overnight…
The next morning (or 8-10 hours later) remove the pavlova from the oven and serve same day.
This can be served in a variety of ways. I served mine with whipped cream and fresh strawberry jam. You can also serve it with whipped cream and fresh berries – strawberries, blueberries, etc. Another option would be to crumble the finished pavlova and serve it “Eton Mess” style by layering it in a cup with fresh berries and cream.
Have fun and enjoy!