Friday, January 22, 2010

foodie friday: scrumptious pavlova, the perfect party recipe

well, predictability is not my strongest attribute, but i've decided to bow to blog conventions (is there such a thing? really?) and put recipes and goodies all on one day each week, which i'm calling, with appropriate cheesiness, "foodie friday".  trust me, the alliteration is for my benefit, otherwise i won't remember.  so, without further ado, on to today's first foodie friday recipe: scrumptious pavlova, with fruit and cream heaped on top of a ten inch circle of crackly on the outside, slightly gooey in the middle, meringue -- a british standard (the explosion of sugar and cream makes you wonder how british people, at least until recently, have managed to stay so trim?)  and compliments to my mum, who made various delectable versions of this when i was little, and still does to this day. mum and i both promise you -- you will completely delight and amaze your guests with this deceptively easy delight.

photo via

feeds about 14

you will need:

for the base

8 egg whites
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract   

for the topping
2 2/3 cups heavy cream (if you skip this, this dessert is fat free!!!, - NOT, however, calorie free)

your choice of fruit - loads of berries, mango, passion fruit -- whatever floats your boat
if you like, you can puree a bag of frozen raspberries with a couple of teaspoons of confectioner's sugar, and make a lovely sauce to pour over your other fruits ~ yum! 

what to do:

1. preheat the oven to 350 farenheit
2. line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
3. whisk (i just put these in my kitchenaid mixer and beat the heck out of them) until satiny peaks form, then mix in the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until the meringue is stiff and shiny (keep going -- it might take a while)
4. sprinkle the vanilla, vinegar, and cornstarch over the egg white mixture, and fold in gently
5. plop the meringue on to the parchment paper in about a 10 to 12 inch mound, flattened out with a spatula
6. put the meringue in the oven and reduce the heat to 250 farenheit right away; bake for an hour, then turn off the oven and leave it to cool completely
7. when you're ready to serve your creation, gently invert the meringue on to the serving plate, or fancy plate stand, and be sure to remove the parchment paper 
8. whip the cream until thickened, and swirl it on top of the meringue
9. arrange the fruit in an appealing pattern (i think it's tempting here to create a sort of formal garden look with concentric circles, but what i like to do is just pile on a massive bunch of fruits of the forest -- berries -- of various types. it's very appealing, trust me.)
10.  make the raspberry sauce, if you want -- you can drizzle some on, and leave the rest to the side for self service, in a pretty jug

that's it -- a genuine ten-step program to discover dessert divinity.  and don't be scared: it isn't actually difficult.  

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