Thursday, February 3, 2011

#9 - Pavlova

Today was International Day at Emily's school, which means she had to stay up late last night making a dessert from the country her grade is representing. And this year, that country is New Zealand.

Last year, she slaved away like a Hungarian making apple strudel. At that point, she thought rolling out hundreds of layers of filo dough was difficult. That feat has paled in comparison to the New Zealand specialty of pavlova.


Adapted from All Recipes
This picture is a little misleading because while there are just a few ingredients, when you're trying to feed 200 students, you need a whole lot of egg whites and a boatload of kiwis.
Pavlova is the national dessert of New Zealand, and it's basically a meringue cake topped with whipped cream and fruit. For someone who's never attempted a meringue before, it's nerve-wracking trying to beat the egg whites to the perfect consistency.
After getting the stiff peaks right the first time, you have to add sugar and then beat them again. Double whammy. Twin peaks.
Since we were making a double batch, and the egg whites are so tough to work with, we made it in two rounds. We baked both pavlovas together, but we beat one batch of 4 egg whites first, cleaned the KitchenAid and did it again before putting them both in the oven.
The best part of a pavlova is that you can top it with whatever fruit you want, but we used kiwis for this one because, um duh, New Zealand.
Since both pavlovas survived the oven and the trip to school, Emily was able to serve spoonfuls to the whole school after teaching them how to do the Haka.

Emily was a little scared to taste it because she's not too sure about meringues, but after hearing the kids enjoy it, she decided to have a taste. And she discovered that it was surprisingly good. The meringue wasn't too dense, and covering it with whipped cream and kiwis didn't hurt.

Even though it was pretty good, it's a good thing we don't live in New Zealand where we'd have to make these things for everyone's birthdays.
If you're feeling like a Kiwi, here's what to do (this is the recipe for one pavlova, double it if you're feeding a miniature army of All Blacks):
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs confectioners sugar
  • 6 kiwis, peeled and sliced (or whatever fruit you want)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry.
  3. Gradually add in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Beat until thick and glossy. Don't overbeat the eggs, or they'll deflate when folding with over ingredients. And don't let any egg yolk or grease get into the whites.
  5. Gently fold in vanilla extract, lemon juice and cornstarch.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spoon the mixture into a circle about 9" across.
  7. Build up the edge slightly, leaving a depression in the middle.
  8. Bake for 1 hour, and cool on a wire rack.
  9. In a small bowl beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form; set aside.
  10. Remove the paper, and place meringue on a flat serving plate.
  11. In a large bowl, whip the cream, adding the confectioners sugar.
  12. Fill the center of the meringue with whipped cream, and top with kiwi slices.

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