For a Kentucky baker making his first pavlova, I think this turned out pretty well. Did it come out looking like a tutu for a Russian dancer? Meh…if I stretched my imagination a bit, perhaps. I’m not winning any awards for authenticity here, since true south-of-the-equator pavlovas are made with passion fruit, kiwi and/or strawberries as far as I understand it. But since we happen to be at peak blueberry season here in Kentucky, it seemed to make sense. And what goes better with blueberries than lemon curd I ask you? I couldn’t help myself.
Pavlova is probably the ultimate warm-weather dessert. It’s sweet, airy and fruity…just the thing when you’ve already had one too many barbecued ribs but still want to finish the grill party off right. Of course you’ll need to store it indoors before serving unless that Chantilly cream is heavily stabilized with gelatin. Begin by assembling your ingredients. Line a sheet pan with parchment and using a 9″-10″ pot lid (here I have a cake circle), draw a circle in pencil in the center. Yes that’s a pink-and-purple Monster High pencil. I live in a house full of girls, OK?
Flip the parchment over so the graphite is underneath. You’ll still see the pencil circle quite clearly.
Lightly grease the circle with oil or melted butter.
Dust it with a little cornstarch.
Now for the meringue. Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.
Place the egg whites, vinegar and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whip.
Whip the mixture to very soft peaks. Whip in the vanilla, then start adding the sugar mixture in a steady stream.
Whip to very stiff peaks.
Having tried a few shaping methods, I think the good ol’ make-a-heap method works the best. Scrape the mixture out onto the circle and press it down with the back of a large spoon.
You can either leave it rough or shape it some. I employed an icing spatula here, and I think it worked well. But there are all sorts of ways of doing this. For more authoritative instructions, consult the closest available Aussie or Kiwi.
Insert into an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Immediately reduce the heat to 300 and bake for 45 minutes. reduce the oven to 250 and bake a further 35 minutes, then turn off the oven and allow the meringue to cool completely without opening the door…overnight is nice. You’ll have some cracks and chips, that’s all part of it.
When you’re ready to serve, fill the meringue shell with whipped cream and add fruit. This base turned out a lot bigger than I expected. It was about 12″ across, so I used more like 3-4 cups of Chantilly cream. That was probably too much, but then this thing was wicked good. As for that spooned-over curd, it is not considered traditional by any means, but what a combo.
I warmed the curd slightly to loosen it, and that made it run a bit once it was applied. Still after a good long chill in the fridge it sliced and served very well. I can’t overemphasize how floored the crowd was by the dessert. I got at least 16 pieces out of it, and we only had 10 guests, if that gives you any sense for how it went over.
The crunchy-soft meringue…the smooth-silky whipped cream…the sweet-tart berries and sauce…no wonder this dessert is an international obsession. Kentucky may soon co-opt it from New Zealand. Anyway, use a large knife…the pieces will be a bit soft and sloppy, but after the first bite trust me, no one will care.
My camera really took one for the team on this shoot. I’ll be cleaning it all weekend. Have a good one!