My good friend Jess introduced me to pavlova. Her dad is Australian, and pavlova is their national dessert. I think I love pavlova almost as much as Jess does. Beautiful meringue, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside with billowy whipped cream and fruit. Its pretty much perfect. Last month I was at her beautiful wedding in Oakland. Since pavlova is her favourite, her mom Judy made two for the post-wedding brunch. Although a bit hung-over I managed two slices and got a copy of the recipe for myself.
Pavlova is notoriously tricky, which was why I had always hesitated to try it. Apparently you have to avoid having any oil anywhere near the cooking implements and if its a humid day the pavlova could turn out to be a sticky mess. Since I live in a rain forest and my kitchen aid has met its fair share of butter I didn't have high expectations. But despite all that I thought it was actually fairly easy.
Just four egg whites, a cup of sugar, a bit of vanilla, cornstarch and vinegar and the beaters do all the work for you.
Side note Leeks from the garden!- I made the pavlova for our 'family' dinner night, which is a once a week meal that rotates between four or five good friends. To my delight leeks will grow year round in a West Coast garden, so I highly recommend.
Maybe a bit sadly, the leeks were the definite highlight of my dinner. Just cleaned off, cut in half and braised with a couple pats of butter, salt and pepper in a hot oven and they were off the hook delicious. I got the below chicken dinner idea from this recipe on Roost. It was pretty great, I just didn't cook my chicken long enough and it had to go in for another few minutes. Stress! But yes, the leeks were the best and easiest part.
Okay, back to pavlova! I did make one serious deviation from the traditional pavlova, which was to use greek yogurt that I sweetened slightly with icing sugar, a bit of orange juice and orange zest instead of the usual whipped cream.(Inspiration came from a weight watchers book, and I had forgotten to pick up whipped cream, but don't judge, it was good!). It was a nice swap from whipped cream if you want something a bit more tangy or lighter.
This was so good. I ate probably half of it, but my guests enjoyed it as well. The yogurt with orange zest is delicious with raspberries. Also, this picture was taken in my bathroom, so excuse the strange backdrop. Nice bathroom pattern right? It was the only place with decent light.
This was my first pavlova, I was intimidated, but I have to say it's easy, and so so so good. I will be making several more this summer. Something like this maybe?
For the Pavlova (recipe from Judy Sutton):
4 egg whites (room temperature best)
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp corn starch
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp white vinegar
Whip the egg whites until frothy, and slowly add the sugar. Keep whipping until the eggs whites get stiff and glossy, then fold in the cornstarch, vanilla and vinegar.
On a piece of parchment trace a circle the size you want your pavlova and gently scoop the eggs whites on to it. Make a little nest in the middle with the back of a big spoon.
Stick in a 200 degree oven for an hour and a half (no peeking!) and then let cool with the oven door slightly a jar. (The original recipe said 250 degrees, but mine got a bit of colour in it and slightly too crispy so I think a lower temp would work better, but it might depend on your oven).
For the filling (adapted from Weight Watchers):
1 cup greek yogurt
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp orange juice
2 tbps icing sugar (plus more for dusting)
1 1/2 cups of raspberries
Whip the orange juice, zest, icing sugar and yogurt together to taste. Gently place in pavlova, sprinkle raspberries on top and dust with icing sugar.