The Pavlova has become as well known for the argument over its origin as it has for being a delicious summer dessert! Both New Zealanders and Australians enjoy laying claim to the creamy meringue pudding that is said to be named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who visited both countries in the early 20th century.
Although we debate who owns it, both sides agree that it is a family favourite, whether you like it semi-healthy with a fruit topping or going all out with a generous sprinkling of chocolate on the top!
To create the basic Kiwi Pavlova all you need to do is follow this recipe:
• 4 egg whites
• 155 grams castor sugar
• 300 ml double cream
• 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
• Vanilla essence
• Hot water
Start by pre-heating your oven to 150 Centigrade (or 350 Fahrenheit). Select a baking tray that is large enough to sit a dinner plate on it and line the tray with baking paper or foil. This prevents the mixture from sticking to it.
Separate 4 egg whites (save the yolks to use for an omelette or other baking project later on). Add a pinch of salt and beat with either a whisk or a food mixer until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar, vinegar, 3 to 4 drops of vanilla essence and 1 tablespoon of hot water. Gently stir the ingredients together, being careful not to over-mix as this can cause the pavlova to become chewy.
Spoon the mixture onto the baking tray, forming a circle roughly the size of a dinner plate. Imagine it is the shape of a nest with an indented hollow on the top. This is where the cream will eventually go once the base of the Pavlova is cooked.
Place it in the oven and cook for approximately 1 hour. Important – Do not allow it to turn brown, instead aim for an off-white colour on the outside of the base.
Whilst the base is baking whip the cream until it has soft peaks. When the base is done, remove it from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool. Once it is cold enough to be handled place it on a serving dish and start adding the cream. This can either be added haphazardly or smoothly over the entire base – it is a personal choice.
And now for the fun part – picking the toppings!
As mentioned above, toppings for Pavlovas range from healthy fruit through to chocolate decadence! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Healthy Toppings (sort of):
• Kiwifruit (in keeping with the New Zealand origin idea!)
• Passion fruit
• Mango slices
• Grated milk or dark chocolate
• White chocolate and fresh raspberry mix
Once your Pavlova is decorated with the topping of your choice it is ready to be eaten. Serve with fruit salad – or if you really want to indulge accompany it with a brandy snap or two and lashings of extra cream (or even icecream! )
Pavlova is best eaten the day it is made, otherwise it tends to go soggy and will absorb the odours of other foods in the fridge.
Cook’s tips -
- 2 teaspoons of Corn flour can be used in place of the hot water. This will assist with creating a lovely extra-crunchy outer layer of the Pavlova base.
- For an entirely different flavour use custard instead of cream.
- If you want to stick with using cream but still feel a little adventurous add a touch of flavour by adding rosewater, lemon essence or orange water to the cream when it is being whipped.
About the writer: Amy Pratt is a firm believer that the Pavlova is a fantastic New Zealand dessert. She has fond memories of her Grandmother making Pavlovas – and was always particularly pleased when they were covered in chocolate!How to make a Pavlova,