It might be that your sweet tooth requires a little attention or that you might need to put up a pud that is a little more creative than the run-of-the-mill ice cream and choccy sauce. If so, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to do one of my favourites; A Pavlova.
This particular recipe forms a delicious, sweet crust with a marshmallowy inside. The almond flavour, combined with a honey vinegar, complements the tangy deliciousness of the Strawberries and Kiwi Fruit.
Today’s recipe doesn’t come without some culture, history and additional information which I’d like you to read first; can’t have it ALL your own way, you know. I’m being facetious, of course. You can skip directly to the recipe if you want to, I shan’t tell anyone. However, having this information in your arsenal of anecdotes, and judiciously dropping little informative gems into the after-dinner conversation (I said dropping little gems into conversation, not being a bombastic wise-@$$ about the whole thing) will get you hundreds of dates and invitations to only the best society soirées. Only yesterday I said to Her Majesty……Goodness, is it time for my meds already? But seriously…. Legend has it that meringue was invented by a Swiss bloke called Gasparani (doesn’t sound very Swiss does it) in the early 18th century in a town called Mehrinyghen from which was derived the word Meringue. As far as the actual Pavlova is concerned (sorry, my Aussie cousins), the Oxford Dictionary and several other publications claim that a hotel chef in Wellington, New Zealand, created a dish to celebrate a visit by the famous ballerina, Anna Pavlova, on her world tour in 1926.
Back with Meringue in general… Let’s take a brief look at three types of Meringue:- Meringue Suisse (Swiss Meringue – and the type of Meringue we’ll be making today). This is made by adding (almost always 50g of caster sugar to each egg white) sugar to stiffly whisked egg whites. Meringue Cuite (Cooked Meringue) Meringue Cuite ends up harder and more brittle/powdery than Suisse because it is prepared by whisking the sugar into the egg over a Bain Marie (which is posh for a pan of warm water. Although a little more exacting to make, this meringue holds its shape better and is more glossy. Meringue Italienne (Italian Meringue) This meringue requires a sugar thermometer, attention to detail and much care in its preparation; and is thus not often used in home baking. Although, similar in method to Meringue Cuite, it is finer in texture and quite a lot lighter. Disclaimer A few meringue rules before you start
- Use fresh eggs
- Use organic, free range eggs where possible. I’ve used both and I get better results with the natural stuff
- Make sure there is no yolk or any other impurity in the egg whites
- The bowl in which the egg/sugar mixture is whisked must be SPOTLESSLY CLEAN AND DRY
- 3 egg whites (if extra large eggs or larger – else, use 4 egg whites for smaller eggs)
- 180g Caster Sugar
- 1t Pure Honey vinegar (normal white spirit vinegar is ok – but I prefer the honey vinegar)
- 1t (rounded) Maizena or other cornflour
- 1t Almond Essence
- 1 Kiwi Fruit
- About 5 strawberries
- 250 to 300ml whipping cream
- Preheat the oven to 150C
- On a sheet of non-stick baking paper, describe (that’s posh chat for ‘draw’) a circle of 20cm diameter. Use a 20cm baking pan or plate to do this.
- Using an electric beater, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks can be formed
- While whisking, add the caster sugar SLOWLY – i.e. one tablespoon at a time – making sure the sugar is dissolved.
- After you’ve added about half of the sugar, FOLD the rest of the sugar into the egg whites. One does this to prevent overbeating, thus preventing the beaten egg whites from collapsing and losing form.
- Mix the vinegar, corn flour and almond essence together and fold into the whisked egg with the last bit of caster sugar.
- By now, you should be able to form stiff peaks with the mixture.
- Using a spatula, spread the meringue onto the baking paper as far as the circle you drew earlier, building the sides to form a kind of an ‘outer wall’.
- If you’re feeling fancy, you can pipe some roses onto the ‘wall’ to add some height
- Bung the assemblage into the centre of the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 140C
- Bake for about an hour – until the meringue changes colour to a delicate cream colour.
- Turn the oven off and allow the meringue to cool completely (roughly 1.5 to 2 hours).
- Remove the meringue from the baking paper and place it onto an appropriate plate
- Slice the Kiwi fruit and strawberries into 1mm thick slices
- Whip/whisk the cream until stiff peaks form – and spread it into the inside of the meringue. (Side Note: If your fruit is very tangy, consider adding 2 teaspoons of caster sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Because the fruit in this recipe was quite sweet, I opted to use just plain cream)
- Place the slices of Kiwi Fruit inside the ‘wall’ of the meringue to create a green border
- Arrange the slices of strawberries in an attractive manner within the green border
With appropriate pomp and circumstance, have the butler place the Pavlova in the dining room, with instructions for security personnel to use force if necessary, on over-enthusiastic members of Peerage who can’t restrain themselves.