Makes on 8-in/ 20-cm Dessert; Serves 4 to 6 people, or 3 Pav Addicts
Slightly Tweaked from Hand Made Baking: Recipes to Warm The Heart, by Yours truly
This pavlova is as classy as the ballerina for whom the dessert was named, and it’s fit for any occasion. The outside of the pavlova meringue is slightly crisp, but its inside is soft, marshmallow-like, and as billowy as the whipped cream used to top the confection.
To those not fluent in pav-making, it might seem rather unusual to add vinegar (you won’t taste it, I promise) to a decadent dessert, but it’s this tiny bit of acid that keeps the inside marshmallowy and the outside nice and crisp. Once cooled, don’t be alarmed; the pavlova is meant to be sunken and cratered— that’s what adds to the beauty of it— anyway, it’s all going to be covered in the finest accouterments. Here, I’ve covered the top with a duvet of billowy whipped cream, a casual spiral of raspberry jam, several handfuls of strawberries, and a smattering of coarsely chopped pistachio nuts. However, feel free to dress your pavlova to your tastes.
Meringue making does require a bit of man-power and some patience, so be sure to use a clean bowl (avoid anything copper) and some form of electrical assistance— either a handheld mixer or a stand mixer— to make the process easier.
For the meringue
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups / 250g granulated sugar
Pinch of fine-grain sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoons white vinegar
For the topping
1 recipe Billowy Whipped Cream, see recipe below
3 tablespoons raspberry jam, whisked with until smooth
Fruit of your choice (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, passion fruit, etc.)
Chopped pistachio nuts, or another nut of your choice (optional)
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 250°F/120°C. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and—this isn’t necessary, but I find it helpful—use a pencil to trace around an 8-in/20-cm cake pan on the parchment paper. Flip the paper over, and set the baking sheet aside.
In a large, clean bowl using a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on the lowest setting. After 15 seconds, gradually increase the speed to the highest setting. Once the mixture begins to foam, add the sugar and salt in a slow, steady stream.
The egg whites will begin to look glossy. Keep beating on high until firm (stiff) peaks form. The mixture should not feel granular when you rub it between your thumb and index finger, and the peak clinging on the wire whisk should stand with the utmost confidence.
Fold the vinegar into the meringue with a metal spoon to avoid deflating, then spoon the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading it out into the drawn circle (if you’re freehanding it, try to keep it around 8 in/20 cm in diameter and 2 in/5 cm in height). Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the outside of the meringue has hardened and the center is still soft and chewy.
Allow the meringue to cool on its pan. Peel off the parchment and transfer the meringue to a plate or cake stand.
Prepare the Billowy Whipped Cream (recipe follows). Spoon the whipped cream onto the pavlova, causally spiral the jam onto the whipped cream (if using), then top with the fruit of your choice and maybe a smattering of pistachio nuts before serving. Serve right away.
• The pavlova shell will keep, unfilled, in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. A filled pav is best eaten on the same day that you make it.
• I know this goes without saying, but it’s better to be safe than sorry: don’t get any yolk in your egg whites; it’ll prevent the meringue from firming up. The same goes for using greasy mixing materials.
Billowy Whipped Cream
Makes about 2 Cups / 240ml
The mixing method for this whipped cream is somewhat unusual, but it results in a beautifully droopy and billowy topping that’s perfect for adorning pastries and cakes. I usually whip the cream by hand in a large bowl with a whisk—it’s a good workout. However, a handheld mixer or stand mixer works just as well. Feel free to adjust the sugar to suit your taste.
1 cup/240 ml cold heavy (whipping) cream
2 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)
Put a large bowl in the freezer to chill for several minutes before beginning.
In the chilled bowl, using a balloon whisk or a handheld mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), whip together 1/2 cup/120 ml of the cream and the confectioners’ sugar until firm, stiff peaks form. Whisk in the vanilla (if using). Lightly whisk in the remaining cream to create an ethereal whipped cream.
Keep the whipped cream refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 hours before using