Sunday, September 7, 2014

"P" is for Pavlova!

With eight extra egg whites in the freezer and a friends birthday celebration near I thought I could surely find a festive way to make magic happen. I googled egg white recipes and found a few lists, but this one from David Lebovitz the most useful. I lived in New Zealand for a while back when I worked with metal in many forms including a damascus bladesmithing apprenticeship in NZ. I heard about Pavlovas while there and it became this iconic Australian food like vegemite. Wanting to try making my own before buying them I added a few extra years of waiting before trying them. Here I was with extra egg whites and the perfect occasion to make them. This recipe was pretty simple to follow, but I managed to put orange extract in the spoon instead of vanilla extract and while I noticed before adding it into the mix the scent was so bright and nice that I poured the oil back into the bottle without wiping the residual oil out of the spoon so a little went into the pavlova. I love warmer spices like cardamom and cinnamon so I'm already eager to make another batch soon with these spices and maybe warmed fruit. These are delicious and the texture is so fun with a brittle exterior and chewy marshmallow consistency inside. I spooned the mixture and it worked well enough, but I think piping the mixture could yield a shape with more of a bowl shape at the center to hold fruit. I'm still for the more organic shape.

A link to the recipe source I used is above. Here it is typed out. Just top them with fresh berries,  whipped cream, lemon curd, or maybe a cup of spiced hot chocolate.
Makes 8-10 small pavlova
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (*Optional. I (accidentally) added a drop of orange oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar OR 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar OR distilled white vinegar but only one 1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces, about 6) large egg whites, preferably room temperature
  • Pinch salt


1 Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the vanilla and vinegar (if using) into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
2 In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites, cream of tartar (if using) and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
3 Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar (if you didn't use cream of tartar.) Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
4 Pipe or spoon the meringue into 8-10 large round mounds that are 3 inches wide (*same size as the inside diameter of a large canning lid) on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon liner. ***They will spread out a bit so leave a little room for this so you can probably fit 9 comfortably on one large baking sheet. With the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked. 
5 Place baking sheet in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white -- not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around.
6 Gently lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week if your house is not humid.

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