Friday, July 17, 2009 12:37:33 AM
The first one was another Brazilian blogger (Vitor Hugo, from Prato Fundo), who posted about baking Pavlovas. Actually, he thought he wasn’t really successful, although his creation was quite beautiful (he wrote about strawberries and rosewater combination, instead pavlova). Because of that, I had sort of promised to myself that I would make a Pavlova last week.
The second reason was one comment from one of my readers (and a close friend). Strawberries are in season, indeed, here in Brazil, and the lil’ boxes of these lovely red berries are all over the markets and fruit stands. And c’mon, he was right: they are in season, how could they stay away from my blog? And what combines more with fresh strawberries than some whipped cream and baked meringue?
Pavlovas were a creation from Neo Zealanders or Australians (they both claim to be the creator), named after the famous ballet dancer, Ánna Pávlova. In a nutshell, it consists of layer (or layers) of meringue, whipped cream and fresh fruits. The most commonly used are strawberries, kiwi fruits, pineapples, peaches, grapes, star fruits, and many, many others! Just look at your farmers’ market and look for the freshest and most colorful fruits you can find! They’ll make a great contrast to the clear-white cream and meringue!
In my version, as you can see, I went with strawberries, star fruits and kiwis. The meringues were made with the basic French way, and my whipped cream was flavored with milk chocolate. Okay, this wasn’t a really traditional whitish combination, but tasted sooo good! Hehehe
To bake the meringue, there are dozens of different ways to do so. You could go with mine, which is the same as I found in a Parragon Cookbook, or you can use a quicker method, described by Daniel from the brazilian blog Panela de Cobre. Most people make one large Pavlova, but as David Lebovitz has explained in his book, they usually crumble awfully, when trying to slice, so, it’s a good idea to make individual portions. Another common variation is about the layers. Some prefer only one layer, but I like piling up two layers. They get a little bit more... dramatic...
Ah, and don't forget to visit my new Flickr account, with my recipe pictures and much more!
Addapted from Perfect Desserts, by Parragon
3 egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
½ + ¼ cup superfine sugar
200ml whipping cream
50g milk chocolate, melted
Fresh fruits (I went for 1 star fruit, 300g strawberries and 1 kiwi)
Make this step in advance: Combine melted chocolate and whipping cream. Let it chill for at least 8 hours. Can be made up to 3 days in advance
Preheat the oven to 100°C. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks. (There’s a little secret, here: warm your egg whites to nearly 42°C (100°F), so they inflate better).
Add the pinch of cream of tartar and pinch of salt, and continue whipping in high speed until you form stiff peaks. Gradually add ½ cup superfine sugar, while still beating, until it gets all glossy.
Fill a piping bag with this meringue and pipe into various forms as desired (squares, rectangles or circles), nearly 10cm diameter, 1cm thick, over parchment paper. You should be able to make 12 forms.
Bake the meringues for 3 hours (That’s what the book suggested, but I do believe less would be enough. Mine were good at about 1,5 hours). The most important here is that, actually, I wouldn’t call it baking, but it’s more of a drying step. You will not want your meringues to get too brown (it would be great to have them pure white). You will want them to be completely light, dry and airy. Allow the meringues to cool inside the oven.
While the meringues are cooling, whip the whipping cream with ¼ cup superfine sugar until you form stiff peaks. It should be pale brown, because of the chocolate.
Slice your fruits and soak them in a light syrup or some liquor, if you wish.
To assembly, put one of the meringues on a plate (you could use a little bit of the cream to hold it in place). Put a layer of whipping cream, and them some fresh fruits. Add another meringue and top with more whipped cream and fruits. Keep it creative and colorful!