The Australians and New Zealanders both lay claim to the creation of this dessert. Regardless of who is correct; it still makes a light and versatile summer treat with as many variations as your imagination.
Named after the Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova, after one of her successful tours Down Under in the 1920s, this meringue has corn starch added to the egg whites, which makes it crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.
Make individual pavlovas and let each guest create their own dessert.
4 egg whites (room temp.)
250 ml (1 cup) icing sugar
5 ml (1 tsp) cornstarch5 ml (1 tsp) white vinegar
300 ml (11/4 cup) whipping cream 35% *
10 ml (2 tsp) vanilla extract15 ml (1 tbsp) icing sugar
1. Cover a baking tray with parchment paper and mark a circle 18 cm (7 in) on the paper
2. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form
3. Gradually add the sugar, whisking well to make sure the sugar dissolves
4. Fold in the vinegar and cornstarch
5. Spread the mixture into the circle on the baking tray and try not to flatten the mixture too much.
6. Make the centre slightly hollow and bring up the sides with a spatula
7. Bake the meringue at 120 C or 250 F for about 1º hours or until dry. Turn off the oven and leave the meringue to cool with the oven door ajar
8. An hour before serving, whisk the cream to soft peaks, add the vanilla and sugar and whisk just to incorporate. Fill the meringue with cream and decorate with fruit of your choice.
* For a version with less cream use
15 ml (1 tbsp) icing sugar
150 ml whipping cream
170 g 0% fat Greek yogurt
Whip the cream, add the sugar and fold in the yogurt
Blueberries and strawberries with maple syrup
Macerate blueberries and strawberries with a little whisky and maple syrup for an hour. Drain well.
Melon and mint
Macerate melon balls in a little Galliano and a few sprigs of fresh crushed mint
Peaches and cardamom
Crush one cardamom pod, add to peaches with a little peach schnapps
Strawberries and balsamic vinegar
Sliced and drizzled with balsamic
Pears, candied orange and chocolate
Canned pears, drained, chopped candied orange rind and drizzled with chocolate
-- Keith F. Muller, Dean, School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts, Red River College