When I heard that today was the day famous prima ballerina Anna Pavlova, died in 1931 I thought it was high time I try and make the dessert that was named after her: the pavlova (wouldn't it just be so cool to have a dessert named after you?! The only thing better would be having a Marc Jacobs designed handbag named after you. I'll settle for either!). The history behind the dessert is full of conflict: both Australia and New Zealand claim they invented the meringue cake with fresh fruit garnish. It was named after the ballerina because she was performing in the area at the time of its initial creation. The outside of the cake is crisp meringue, the inside gooey marshmallow, and the top decadently covered with whipped cream and fresh fruit. To make the pavlova in honor of Pavlova,
4 large egg whites
1 cup (200 grams) superfine sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch (corn flour)
1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Fresh fruit - kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, passion fruit, peaches, pineapple, or other fruit of your choice
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (130 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch (18 cm) circle on the paper.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks.
- Start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds very stiff peaks. (Test to see if the sugar is fully dissolved by rubbing a little of the meringue between your thumb and index finger. The meringue should feel smooth, not gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers).
- Sprinkle the vinegar and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and, with a rubber spatula, fold in.
- Gently spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges, making sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center. (You want a slight well in the center of the meringue to place the whipped cream and fruit.)
- Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the outside is dry and takes on a very pale cream color.
- Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven. (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.)
- The cooled meringue can be made and stored in a cool dry place, in an airtight container, for a few days.
- Just before serving gently place the meringue onto a serving plate. Whip the cream in your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, until soft peaks form.
- Sweeten with the sugar and vanilla and then mound the softly whipped cream into the center of the meringue.
- Arrange the fruit randomly, or in a decorative pattern, on top of the cream.
- Serve immediately as this dessert does not hold for more than a few hours.
Serves 6 to 8.
Make Ahead: You can make the meringue cake several days in advance. Just store in a cool dry place, in an airtight container. However, once the whipped cream and fruit are placed on the meringue, the dessert should be eaten immediately as the meringue will start to soften and break down from the moisture of the cream and fruit.