Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pavlova

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The travels have not ended, friends in blogger land.  I am currently in Auckland, New Zealand completing an international elective in family medicine.  For four weeks, I get to learn all about a completely different healthcare system, Maori and Pacific Islander culture, and how wonderful it is to spend time in the southern hemisphere while it snows in Michigan.  I have been very lucky to get to work with fabulous doctors, nurses, and staff who are all very keen on me (and my two classmates who are also here with me) learning a lot and enjoying myself as well.  

Moreover, I get to work with Kiwi medical students!  Karina, who is also in her last year of medical school, also loves to bake and when I mentioned that I was having baking withdrawl, she invited us over to teach us how to make pavlova, a classic Kiwi dessert (oh, and don't let anyone tell you that is from Australia!).  Pavlova consists of a large meringue "cake"  with a crunchy crust but soft center with cream and some sort of fruit on top.  According to my guide book, it was originally made to honor Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.

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I happen to love passion fruit, which is a flavor that is hard to find in the US.   I purchased some passion fruit curd with we decided would be a perfect topping for the pav, as Karina called it for short.

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Pavlova - serves approximately 12  
  • 4 egg whites (or approximately 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup castor (baking) sugar
  • 300 mL cream
  • sliced fruit, fruit drizzle, or fruit curd for topping
1. Preheat oven to 275 F (140 C).  Place a baking sheet onto a cookie sheet.  Use a plate to draw the outline of a circle onto the sheet (about 8" diameter).
2. In a large, clean bowl beat the egg whites and salt until soft, but not stiff, peaks form.  Karina said that you know that it is ready when you can turn the bowl upside down without it falling out, as she so bravely demonstrated:
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3.  While continuously beating the egg whites, add the sugar one spoonful at a time and mix well.
4.  Next, add the cornflour, vinegar, and vanilla.  It will be nice marshmallow fluffy texture.
5.  Spoon out the fluffy yet sticky white mixture into the circle that you have drawn on the baking sheet.  You want to shape it like a cake.  It actually is not as hard as I thought it would be.
6.  Bake in the oven for about 75 minutes.  Allow the meringue to dry out in the oven for at least a couple of hours, although overnight is best.  It will be very fragile when it is done!  It is normal for the pavlova to sink in the center.
7.  To make the fresh whipping cream, simply whip the cream until peaks form.  If you like, you can add a little confectioner's sugar to add a touch of sweetness (although your pav will be quite sweet without it!)
8.  Generously top the meringue with the cream and add your fruit topping.  Serve immediately.


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I was a sort of curious girl and I couldn't help but touch the top of the finished meringue and it immediately sank in the middle before I could take a picture of it.  It still looked (and tasted) great, but I felt terrible even though Karina assured me that it would have fallen eventually.

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Maggie gracefully adding the cream
I used Pollock as my inspiration for adding the passion fruit curd:

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    The pavlova was divine!  The crunchy crust is quite sweet (like a meringue cookie) but the center is as delightful the top of a lemon meringue pie.  The passion fruit was my favorite part, however.  So tangy!


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    The different layers of the pavlova

    Thanks again to Karina for teaching us the secrets of the pav!  I am sure that a mini, more cupcake like version will be made as soon as I am back stateside :)

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