It’s been far too long since we’ve posted a dessert, so I’ve got a great one for you this week. When I was a kid, my mom would occasionally make pavlova birthday cakes. Pavlova is a cross between meringue and a marshmallow, crispy on the outside with a soft, chewy middle. Served with whipping cream or mousse, these are the stuff dreams are made of…except one thing. They can be a pain in the neck to make.
Pavlovas often fall, crumbling in on themselves. The transition from the oven to the countertop can wreck havoc on them. They weep if you store them in a closed container, and getting a cake-sized pavlova off the cookie sheet is next to impossible. Just the baking project you wanted to tackle, right?
Don’t give up yet!
I found a recipe for individual pavlovas that seems to hold up pretty well. I’ve made them three times now, and even though the recipe makes eight, I’ve only had one (out of 24!) that cracked and fell apart. These are worth the time. And if you follow the recipe closely, you’ll be just fine.
Pair these with chocolate mousse and raspberries, pastry cream and citrus, or whipped cream and berries. You can’t go wrong!
Adapted from Melangery.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbs. cornstarch
- 3 egg whites, at room temperature
- 3 tbs. cold water
- 1 tsp. white vinegar
- lemon juice for cleaning the bowl
- toppings for serving: chocolate mousse, whipped cream, pastry cream, berries...whatever your heart desires!
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 300 F. Line a large cookie tray with parchment paper.
- Squirt some lemon juice on a paper towel and use it to wipe down your mixing bowl and beaters. (The lemon juice will take away any oily residue on the bowl or beaters that could impede the egg whites whipping up nicely.)
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Set this aside.
- Place the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer, and whip them to soft peaks using the whisk attachment at high speed. Add the cold water and beat until the whites again form soft peaks.
- With the mixer running, add the sugar-constarch mixture a tablespoon at a time. Once all the sugar is added, beat for an additional minute. Add the vinegar, then continue to beat at high speed until glossy, stiff peaks form. This will probably take about 5 minutes.
- Divide the meringue into eight circular mounds on the cookie sheet. Each will be 4-5 inches in diameter. Space them evenly, leaving 1.5-2 inches between them. The pavlovas won't expand much when baking, but you don't want them to run into each other. You can make an indentation in the middle of each one if you want a little crater for the filling, or leave them puffed and rounded.
- Bake the pavlovas for 35 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR FOR ANY REASON. When the time is up, turn off the oven and prop open the door with a wooden spoon. Don't open it any further. Let the pavlovas cool in the oven for an hour.
- These are best eaten the day that they're made.