The Pavlova dessert was created for and inspired by Anna Pavlova, a Russian ballerina, when she toured New Zealand and Australia in the 1920s.
Resembling a ballerina’s tutu, the Pavlova has a crunchy outer merengue shell with a marshmallowy inside, usually filled with whipped cream and berries. Visually it’s a stunner, that looks like it came from a professional bakery. In reality, it’s quite easy to make. There are all sorts of variations with which you can fill the pavlova shells. Besides the recipe, below, here are some additional/alternative fillings to consider:
* Lemon, or any fruit curd + whipped cream
* Pastry cream (see my recipe for No Temper (tantrum) Pastry Cream) + whipped cream
* Amarena cherries + whipped cream
* Any fruit that is in season + whipped cream
Ideally the egg white part of this recipe will be made using a stand mixer or handheld electric beaters due to the time needed to fully blend in the sugar and stabilized the egg whites. You could make it by using a whisk, but your forearm might be sore for days and not ever forgive you. That said, whisking by hand is how they did it before electric beater was invented, so if you’re feeling old fashioned, have at it! (I’m using a stand mixer.)
Tip: When I bake, I tend to use more egg yolks than egg whites. If I have no immediate plans for the whites, I put them in a plastic freezer bag, label how many whites there are, and freeze them. They thaw and whip up beautifully! This way, nothing goes to waste. Or, you can do the obvious and make an egg white omelet, but that’s not as fun.
News from Arliano: We finally signed all the paperwork for our house and garden. The garden is doing well. They say that “A garden is 95% weeding and the rest gardening” — I can attest to that fact! Inside the house we’re pursuing some government programs that offer rebates on home improvements. Good news = discounts; bad news = discount come in the form of tax credits spread over five years. Still… worth investigating. In the meantime, we’ve had the nearly 2-meter weeds and wild grasses cut down.
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A Tutu Dessert for Anna Pavlova
- 6 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups super fine sugar (instead of buying this, if you have a blender or food processor, you can process regular sugar for about 15-30 seconds. It’s ok if it look like it’s turning to powder)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 – 1 1/2 cup (8 -12 ounces) heavy cream (whipping cream)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1-quart berries, your choice, chopped if needed
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
For the Pavlova shell
For the Whipped Cream and Berries
- Pre-heat oven to 325 F (160 C) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat
- With a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form. Then slowly add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time on high speed until glossy stiff peaks form (The peaks should stand perfectly upright if you hold the beater or whisk attachment upside down. No floppy peaks!). Scrape down the bowl in between sugar additions, if needed
- Add the cornstarch to the egg whites and whisk until fully incorporated
- Mound the pavlova mixture in an 8-9-inch circle (alternatively you can make 8 mini pavlovas using a piping bag or by hand, although baking time will be much shorter). Build it tall and then make an indent in the center
- Place the pavlova in the oven. As soon as you close the oven door, reduce heat to 300°F (150 C) and bake for 75 minutes. (if making mini pavlovas, bake for 45 minutes, only). After the pavlova has baked, turn the oven off and let it cool inside the oven with the door closed, about 1.5 hours
- No more than an hour before serving, make the whipped cream by whisking the cream, sugar and extract until stiff
- Place whipped cream in and on top of the pavlova and place the berries on top of the whipped cream. Slice and serve within an hour and store any leftovers in the refrigerator