The Easiest Pavlova
Or at least a pretty easy one. Comparatively easy? Yeah, let’s go with that.
Bye, 2020. Wish I could say I’m glad we met, but, well. We both know I’m not. It’s not been great. I feel like that’s all we need to say about that.
On a happier note, wix has added a new feature to its blogging platform. From now on, there will be a “jump to recipe” link at the top of each post! Obviously, I’d really love it if everyone read everything I wrote all the time. But I totally understand that sometimes that isn’t possible (or you just don’t wanna, which is also understandable). Hopefully I’ll be able to go back and add it to my earlier posts, but that’s going to take awhile. So without further ado:
Wasn’t what fun?
On to the pavlova! I’ve made meringues in various forms approximately a million times, but I’ve never made a pavlova this big before. To be totally honest, meringue isn’t my favorite. But I had a bunch of egg whites leftover from making coquito (which I’m drinking as I type this), and I didn’t feel like putting boatloads of effort into yet another round of macarons. Also, I got a new set of piping tips for Christmas and I wanted to play with my new toys! Pavlovas have a special place in my heart, too, because they’re named for the ballerina Anna Pavlova. They usually have some kind of cream filling and fruit topping. I went with orange whipped cream and a combo of raspberries and blackberries. And it turned out SO WELL. Super crisp on the outside with a nice crust on the bottom, enclosing a pillowy marshmallow center. Truly a sensory joy to eat.
In terms of impressive looking desserts, this one takes a surprisingly small number of spoons. You whip up a meringue, you put it in the oven for a few hours, you turn the oven off and leave it in for a few more hours, then you fill and serve it. I made it a little more difficult for myself by piping it, which really isn’t necessary. You don’t even have to make sure the sides are higher than the middle if you don’t want to. I won’t tell. Whatever happens, it’s going to look pretty and people are going to like it.
Start off by preheating the oven to 285°. Then draw a circle on a piece of parchment (or, if your hands are like mine, trace the bottom of a cake pan). All of the whipping you do here will be at medium speed. Beginning-to-oven shouldn’t take more than half an hour. It took me about 17 minutes after adding the sugar here, but it varies every time.
Put the egg whites in the bowl and whip them until they’re foamy. Then add the cream of tartar. It’ll give the meringue some extra stability so it holds its shape.
Once you reach medium peaks- peaks that are glossy and thick, but sink back into the egg whites- add the vanilla. This part is optional, and it will discolor the final product so you won’t get a pure white masterpiece, but I think it’s worth it. Let it whip for about a minute, and then sprinkle the cornstarch over the top.
Continue whipping until you reach stiff peaks. The above photo gallery is a chronological visual depiction of the whipping process. Ideally at the end, you should be able to hold the bowl upside down over your head without getting slimed like old school Nickelodeon. I’m almost never brave enough to do that. If you just keep watch and stop when the valleys left by the whisk don’t level themselves out, you’ll be fine.
Put a little bit of meringue on the four corners of the parchment paper, on the same side you drew on. Then turn it over and stick the paper to the baking sheet, using the meringue as glue. This is when you can start to get as creative as you want. Spread a meringue base in the circle. Then build up the sides to create a sort of bowl. That’s where the fillings will go.
Keep in mind it’ll expand as it bakes, so don’t put anything too close to the edges of the baking sheet.
Bake that sucker for 2 hours. I know. It’s a long time. Use it to take a nap or something. After the two hours, turn the oven off and leave the pavlova inside for several more hours (this batch was about 6 hours, but it was still a little warm for my liking when I took it out). No matter what, DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN at any point during the baking or post-baking process. It’ll get crackly anyway, but that’s how you get big cracks and a sinking middle. You need it to cool down, dry out, and gently collapse very gradually.
When you’re ready to serve it, fill and top it with whatever your little heart desires. I went with orange whipped cream (just a standard whipped cream with orange blossom water and orange zest) and a combo of raspberries and blackberries (because that’s what we had in the fridge). I mean, the decorating process can get a bit treacherous if your tremor is acting up and you start decorating before moving it to a serving platter. I’m not going to lie, these things are delicate after they’re baked. Especially if you pipe a bunch of separate pieces. If you bump it against anything, like I did, pieces could come off. If you drop it, like I somehow miraculously did not, it will most definitely shatter into twelve billion pieces and you will cry. But if big enough pieces break off the sides, you can stick them back on with some whipped cream and no one will be the wiser. Unless, you know, you write a blog post about it.
Don’t fill it until within an hour of when you’re going to serve it, if possible. It’ll last a few days in the fridge, but the longer it sits, the worse it gets. It won’t ever be as good as the first day. So wait until you have an audience of hungry people, decorate, and serve it. And then let people marvel at your genius and enjoy a beautiful dessert!
Happy new year, everyone. Stay safe. Thank you so, so much for sticking with me for the past year.
🥄🥄; Makes 1 cake-sized meringue
8 egg whites
400g castor sugar (or granulated sugar)
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
3 tsp cornstarch
Preheat oven to 285°.
Prep your parchment paper by drawing a circle (or tracing the bottom of a cake pan).
Put egg whites into a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment.
Whip egg whites on medium speed until foamy.
Add cream of tartar.
Whip for about 1 minute.
While whipping, slowly add the sugar.
When the mixture is glossy and you have reached medium peaks, carefully mix in the vanilla for about 1 minute.
Sprinkle the cornstarch on top, then continue to whip until stiff peaks have formed.
Put a small amount of meringue in all four corners of the parchment, so it will stick to the baking sheet. Make sure the side you drew the circle on is facing down, as to not touch the meringue.
Spread or pipe the meringue onto the paper.
Bake for 2 hours.
Turn the oven off and leave the pavlova inside for several hours or overnight.
When you’re ready to serve, fill it with your desired ingredients (the classic filling combo is whipped cream and fruit).