Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pavlova with Raspberries, a Dessert Fit For a Ballerina

Pavlova, a classic that never goes out of fashion

Rivalry between the Oceanic neighbors, the Aussies and the Kiwis, is well known all over the world, a healthy and humorous competition that bears similarities with what goes on in other parts of the world.

The battlefield of this rivalry is quite often sports arena of the games most popular in both countries especially rugby. Though it seems that sports arenas could not contain all the competition which made its way to the cuisine of these countries. Both Australia and New Zealand claim credit for giving the world the delicate, light and delicious dessert named Pavlova.

Although the country of origin remains debatable, what's certain is how Pavlova came to be. Ana Pavlova was a famous Russian ballet dancer who toured both countries in the early 20th century. Meringue, which is the base of Pavlova was widely in the culinary history way before the creation of the Pavlova. but it  is said that a meringue based dessert was created or named in her honor around 1926.

If you google some of Anna Pavlova's pictures  while on stage floating like a feather one would understand why this dessert now has her name. Light in color and crisp from the outside but with a gooey soft marshmallow like interior; a dessert fit for a delicate and talented dancer.

Don't be fooled by its fancy origins, the Pavolva is easy to make. It is also considered as light and has less calories than many traditional desserts. What's great about this dessert is that from the same basic base (though different aromas can be added) you can use an endless variety of toppings to get a different taste every time. From créme pattissiere, to créme chantilly, to mascarpone cheese, and all kind of fruits, candies, chocolate, or whatever your imagination and taste may lead you.

Many recipes require that you use more egg yolks than whites and I faced the situation of having several egg whites in the fridge. Sometimes I would even freeze the whites in plastic bags and take them one day ahead of using them and put them in the fridge. Egg whites are needed in several sweet recipes such as Angel cake, meringue and a favorite of mine: Pavlova. What's great about this dessert is the minimal ingredients it needs.

To do the Pavlova you will need the following (serves about 4):
  • 1 egg white (room temperature)
  • 62 g of sugar (or a cuarter cup)
  • 1/4 tsp of white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp of corn flour
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla
  • few drops of lemon juice
The few steps needed to get a white and glossy meringue

In well cleaned and dry  glass or aluminium bowl well cleaned  rubbed with lemon juice to remove any fat residue that might be stuck to the surface of the bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixture at medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually, start adding the sugar sprinkling over the eggs white in batches. Beat untill the mixture is very white and glossy with stiff soft peaks.
Sprinkle the corn flour, vanilla, vinegar and lemon juice and fold in gently with a rubber spatula.
On a tray covered with silicone mat or baking paper, pour your mixture in a circular form letting the edges be a bit higher than the center.
Bake the pavlova in a preheated oven (140C) for about an hour or an hour 15 minutes. You can also start baking it on 160C for 15 minutes then lower the heat to 140C for the remaining time.
It should be white on the top and lightly pink on the bottom.
Raspberries and rose petals 

For the Rose cream and raspberry topping you need:
  • 150 ml of whipping cream
  • a tablespoon of sugar
  • a tbsp of rose petal jam
  • Raspberries
Whip the cream with the sugar until it doubles in size and has a fluffy and light texture. Fold in the rose jam and mix well with a spoon until combined.

When the Pavlova is completely cooled, add the flavored cream in the center and top with raspberries. I only used a few since I wanted to taste all the complex layers of flavor with a spoonful and that none of the ingredients overpowers the rest.
The rose cream making its way to the pavlova

  Pavlova is a dessert deemed fit for a world renowned artist, try it and you will understand why.
The different layers of flavors and textures

Artistic and light, a dessert that delights

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