Berry Pavlova

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I have spent the last two weeks as my mother’s main office minion, and therefore forwent Monday’s blog post. I beg forgiveness.

So, when I actually rummaged around the fridge, wondering what I should make, I remembered that I had too many egg whites in a Plentea bottle, nearly forgotten from the time I had made Audrey’s chocolate cake and used 16 egg yolks. Not all of the whites survived because there were some broken yolks, but by the time I was finished experimenting I still had around 6-8. They remained hidden in the fridge until I remembered them, which is actually ok because old egg whites will whip up better.

I passed sophomore year under the tutelage of Fred, baking-boy extraordinaire, and picked up a thing or two hanging around him whilst he created his edible masterpieces. Mostly how to be creative and fun in the kitchen. So, this normally plain-Jane whipped out all the stops, as in, this project took me three days to complete. And, there’s rose water involved, just for kicks.

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First, we’re going to make the meringue. Egg whites and sugar are whisked in a double boiler to pasteurize the eggs. This is swiss-style meringue. Italian meringue is made by pouring boiling sugar syrup into egg whites whilst simultaneously whipping them at high speed. I feel that swiss meringue is a bit safer. Everything is cooked, and then whipped. No splattering 300-degree syrup. Using a piping tip and bag, create meringue bowls. The size is up to you.

This recipe could easily be made in one afternoon. While the meringues are crisping in the oven, start on the coulis. Coulis is a plant sauce; fruit is usually used for dessert, vegetables for savory dishes. Our farmer friends sent us strawberries, and as the fruit was looking overly ripe, I decided to make strawberry coulis, but any berry will do. If you want the coulis to set a bit, add some gelatin, or agar agar if you prefer.

Finally, whip the cream—by hand if you’re brave—and add a teaspoon of rose water. Don’t be tempted to pour in more; rose water is, while floral and heady, exactly that. Too much, and it’ll probably smell like rotting roses. Yuck.

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By this time the meringues should be high and dry. Try one. They are…ephemeral. Shatter the delicate shell, and it melts daintily in your mouth.

Choose a fun, swirly tip and transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag. Pipe generous swirls into the meringue bowls, topping with coulis and raspberries for decoration. Have some friends on had to help you eat the pavlova; I spent my afternoon frantically looking for takers. Cousin Ben will be saving the day.

Berry Pavlova

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1 batch meringue

I based mine off of The Boy Who Bakes, doubling the proportions. You’ll have enough for little meringue cookies, too. Cut in half if you wish.

6 room-temperature egg whites (BUT! Always separate a cold egg to prevent the yolk from breaking)

Scant 2.5 (480g) cups sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 225˚F. It is important that the temperature is precise! Meringue is very delicate and finicky.
  2. Using a hand or standing mixer, whip egg whites on high speed. When soft peaks begin to form, gradually add the sugar and whip until glossy and stiff. If you can hold the bowl over your head without dumping meringue on yourself, it’s ready.
  3. Using a piping bag and tip, pipe the meringue onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The bowls should be approximately 3” wide. Start piping from the center of the circle, making your way outwards, and then slowly build up on the last ring, creating a wall approximately 2” high, or whatever you prefer.
  4. Bake for 1-2 hours, allowing the meringues to crisp, and then turn off the oven and let the meringues sit in the oven, allowing them to completely dry out.

Fruit Coulis

350g berries

0.25 cup water

3 tbsp sugar, or to taste

up to 0.25 tsp gelatin, to set

  1. In a saucepan, heat berries, water, and sugar until fruit becomes extremely soft. Gently mash with a spoon, breaking up the fruit. All the liquid to cook down; it should have the viscosity of smoothie.
  2. Pour the coulis through a sieve to remove seeds and skin. Allow to cool. Store in the fridge.

Whipped Cream

2 cups very cold heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon rose water

sifted powdered sugar to taste (optional, and I’d just go by the tablespoon)

  1. Using a standing mixer, hand mixer, or your actual hand/arm, whip cream and rose water until soft peaks form. Begin adding sugar, a tablespoon at a time, tasting along the way. Stop whipping when stiff peaks form. Go too far, and you’ll have rose-water butter.

 

Assembly

  1. Place whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice. I used an Ateco 807.
  2. Pipe generous swirls of whipped cream into the meringue bowls. Drizzle with coulis and top with raspberries.
  3. Serve immediately, or, if you must, store in the fridge for a few hours.

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