You know you've come a long way together when you call your dessert by a nick-name. Me and 'Pav', we're like this.
Yup, pretty much the whole fam damily and those close-by friends loooovvvve Pavlova. What's not to love? Light, airy, crunchy, chewy meringue topped with slightly sweetened vanilla scented whipped cream, crowned with gorgeous jewel-red strawberries and raspberries. Or, when we're into those long, hot Okanagan summer days, peaches-picked-just-this-morning take munching pleasures to whole new levels. There's no going wrong with fruit choices when it comes to Pav.
Even when we're in Kona, that other place we like to call home, Pav comes with us. Just one Saturday morning visit to the Farmer's Market in Keauhou, and I'm raring to concoct a tropical pav topped with addictive Heyden mango and custardy apple bananas draped with gorgeous, tangy lilikoi. Oh my!
Some of you out there are going to turn up your nose at my version though. I'm not very traditional when it comes to Pavlova. No heavenly white, softly baked meringue for me! I've got an agenda when I'm whipping up this house favorite dessert. Once the sugary whites are billowy soft I add a bit of vinegar, cornstarch and the real-deal vanilla. This makes the Pav chewy inside and deliciously fragrant.
On top of that, I crank the oven temperature up, from the usual, to give that lily white meringue a bit of a suntan. Mmm....mmmm....mmmmmm!
What do we end up with? Crunchy, chewy, light-heartedness, topped with berries and cream. Pav. What, are you waiting for?
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Here we go..............Whip it! Just whip it! Get those whites fluffy as fluffy can be, then add the cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla.
Once you whip in those last few ingredients. Plop the meringue down onto prepared pan.
I usually draw a circle with the bottom of a springform pan or something about 9 inches round on parchment or wax paper lining my baking pan. Gives a good guideline for shaping the meringue. Make sure you scoop out the middle and build up the sides a bit, making a nest for the cream and fruit. The pointy rough spots along the edges, give more texture and yumminess to your finished pav.
Now it's for this baby to bask in the warmth of 300F for 1 hour before finishing off at 275F for about another 20 minutes. And that, my friends, is how to create sweet mouthfeels that will have everyone saying, 'more please!'
PAVLOVA - Serves 6 to 8
5 egg whites
tiny pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons best vanilla extract you have
1 quart ruby red, fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, sliced and sweetened with a small handful of berry or regular white sugar. (I sometimes add a few capfuls of Grand Marnier, Kahlua, Amaretto or Frangelico to my berries)
2 cups cream, sweetened with 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon good vanilla and whipped until quite stiff
1 cup beautiful, fresh raspberries, washed and refrigerated.
Preheat oven to 300F. Line large baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. With bottom of springform or something like that draw a 9-inch circle in centre of parchment. Set aside.
Beat egg whites with pinch of salt in large bowl of electric mixer until frothy and starting to poof up. Add sugar 1/4 cup at a time while continuing to beat at medium-high to high speed, incorporating very well after each addition and giving whites more poof time. When whites have pretty much doubled in volume with wonderful peaks when you lift the beaters, it's time to add the cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla. Beat another 2 minutes, scraping sides with spatula if needed.
Plop meringue onto prepared baking sheet and smooth and shape into a 9-inch circular nest. Bake 1 hour at 300F. Turn oven down to 275F and bake another 20 minutes. Turn oven off, open door slightly and let pav cool in oven for another hour, if you can. If not, fine to cool pavlova out of the oven.
Prepare strawberries at least 2 hours ahead of time so they can laze about getting all deliciously syrupy in the fridge.
I usually make my pavlova early in the day, or at least by mid-day when I'm having company for dinner, as it will sit well for a few hours. When ready to serve, spread sweetened whipped cream evenly over cavity and top of pavlova and scoop on prepared fruit. A masterpiece indeed!