Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mini Pavlovas

     A very simple dessert but what a show stopper.

     I'm not a huge fan of meringue but what else are you going to do with extra egg whites. The great thing is you can make them ahead of time and they keep really well for at least a week to ten days. With the meringues made ahead of time, it is really just an assembly line after that adding the whipped cream, fruit and what ever you want to garnish it with. 

     I have never had a problem making meringue, here is my method.


3 egg whites
1 cup sugar*
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar-optional, but it is a stabilizer so....

Beat egg whites until stiff, dry peaks form. It usually only take about 5 minutes or so.
Gradually add sugar while continuing to beat the egg whites until it is all incorporated.
Add cream of tartar and continue to beat for a minute or two to make sure everything is well mixed.
On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, pipe or spoon out about three inch circles with a hollow/well in the middle to hold the whipped cream. You should end up with a dozen.**
Bake in a 250 degree oven for about 45 minutes, the meringues should crack a little.***
Turn off heat and leave meringues in the oven another 15-30 minutes to dry out more.
Remove from oven and lift off the parchment paper, they should come off fairly easily.
That's it, you're done.

* If you can, grind the sugar in a food processor until it is a fine powder, you're making Castor sugar. It will incorporate much faster and easier. There is nothing worse than gritty meringue. Do not use icing sugar, it has anti clumping agents in it and will not give that smooth texture you are looking for.

** Do not use waxed paper for parchment paper, ever. They are completely different.

*** Cooking time varies depending on relative humidity. You are incorporating a lot of air into the egg whites, if it is really humid cook a little longer to dry them out.

     Pavlova is a traditional Australian or New Zealand dessert depending on who you talk to. Usually it is a 9" circle of meringue, topped with sweetened whipped cream and fruit (kiwi and strawberries or raspberries)
I make mine in individual servings, no trying to cut fragile meringue and they cook faster too.

     I don't use sweetened whipped cream. The meringue is already sweet so I don't see the need. You can also use custard if you like. To keep the meringues at their peak, assemble as close to serving time as possible. The moisture from the fruit and filling will slowly dissolve the meringue and make it gooey.

     Top with whatever fruit is available. Okay, maybe steer away from apples or oranges but you know what I mean. Now that I think of it those little segmented mandarin oranges would probably work pretty well .... LOL

     That's it for the traditional recipe,  a relatively simple, light, delicious way to enjoy the fruits (and berries) of summer. I add one more step and it is purely for show although the mint leaves add a nice touch, accenting the fruit and cutting the sweetness a little.

     I garnish mine with edible flowers and a mint leaf or two. There are lots of edible flowers; pansies, geraniums, marigolds, roses, gladiolus, peonies, any kind of squash flower etc, etc etc. Google to find a complete listing. They don't add much to the taste ( I usually don't eat them, they're just for show) but they are eye candy and you eat with your eyes first. Please note, make sure you are using edible flowers that haven't been sprayed with an herbicide or pesticide, you don't want to poison your guests ... or do you?? LOL

     However you decide to make this, traditional or my way, I hope you enjoy this quintessential summer dessert.

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