I'm dreaming of a white you get it, the Christmas season is upon us and I'm dreaming of picture-perfect, fluffy, pure white mounds that drift and swirl, piling higher and higher! Oh, I'm sorry, did you think I was talking about snow?
Oh no, I'm dreaming of Pavlova, mounds and swirls of fluffy whipped cream piled higher and higher atop a crisp, melt-in-your-mouth crust of meringue and gloriously crowned with fresh, sweet fruits. It's as pretty as a new fallen snow!
Pavlova is a glorious dessert named after the Russian prima ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who danced from the late 1800s through the 1930s. The dessert was once described as being "as light as Pavlova".
An ethereal delight, Pavlova would be a magnificent finale to a holiday dinner that no one could deny is the most delicious dessert they have ever had, at least in my humble opinion.
- 4 large egg whites (Egg whites must not contain any trace of yolk. Separate cold eggs, then bring the whites to room temperature.)
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Fresh fruit, such berries, peaches, mango, kiwi, etc.
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (do not grease).
- In a very clean bowl, beat egg whites and salt together on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
- With mixer running on low, gradually add sugar, increase speed and beat until meringue is stiff and glossy and sugar is completely dissolved. Test by rubbing a small amount of meringue between fingers. It shouldn't feel gritty.
- Sprinkle in cornstarch and vanilla; lightly fold to combine.
- Pile the meringue in the center of baking sheet and gently spread out into an 8-inch circle mounding the sides up a bit
- Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the meringue just feels crispy to the touch. The meringue should not brown.
- Turn off the oven and let cool in oven for 1 hour.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely.
- Meringue can be made up to two days ahead wrapped or stored in an air type container unrefrigerated. Meringue is fragile, so use care handling.
- An hour before serving, whip cream with 2 tablespoons sugar into soft peaks, add vanilla. Do not overbeat. Pile on top of meringue shell and arrange a generous amount of fruit on top of the cream. Fruit may be lightly sweetened or a little sweet liquor added if desired.
- Refrigerate until serving.
This will be my last column before Christmas, so I will take the opportunity now to wish all a joyous celebration of the holiday season!
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