Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Pavlova, the dessert named after famous ballerina Anna Pavlova, whose unknown origin started a culinary turf war between Australia and New Zealand, with both countries claiming the credit for it themselves. Even today the debate still rages, with evidence that Pavlova recipes were published in New Zealand cookbooks as early as 1929. But wherever it came from, it has become a solid part of the cultural cuisines of both nations, and in my family, no Christmas lunch is complete without a slice of lighter-than-air Pavlova.
The recipe I’m sharing with you today is for a decadent chocolate Pav, topped with sweet winter strawberries. The original recipe called for grilled figs to adorn the Pavlova, which is a classy alternative and I’m betting would be absolutely delicious when they’re in season. Other popular toppings include passionfruit, banana, kiwi fruit and berries. But often they are all piled on top together which I find a little unappealing. I like to keep it simple and stick to one or two kinds of fruit to let their flavours really take center stage.
This is a fantastic and easy recipe that is perfect for using up the eggwhites hanging around in your freezer – and trust me, I have many! The addition of Balsamic vinegar might sound odd but it is very subtle and really works well with the flavour of the chocolate. I also loved the pieces of grated chocolate throughout and thought this was a wonderful modern interpretation of a classic dessert.
Adapted from Delicious, March 2009
• 6 egg whites, at room temperature
• 1 ½ cups caster sugar
• ¼ cup Dutch cocoa powder
• 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
• 40g dark chocolate, finely grated
• Whipped cream or crème fraiche
• Fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
• Icing sugar or grated chocolate, to dust
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F). Line a 24cm oven tray with baking paper and draw a 23cm circle, or 6-8 x 10cm circles onto the paper.
2. Beat eggwhites in a the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer until soft peaks form. Slowly beat in sugar, a spoonful at a time, continuing to beat until stiff and shiny.
3. Sift in cocoa, then add vinegar and grated chocolate and fold gently until cocoa has amalgamated.
4. Mound the meringue mixture onto the baking paper within the circles, then smooth the sides and top with a spatula.
5. Place baking tray on the center shelf of the oven and then immediately reduce the temperature to 150°C (300°F) and bake for 1 – 1 ¼ hours. The pavlova should be crisp around the edges and dry on top but when you prod the center it should feel ‘squidgy’. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly adjar and leave the meringue to cool completely in the oven.
6. When ready to serve, invert meringue onto a large flat plate, pile whipped cream or crème fraiche onto the center and place strawberries on top. Dust with icing sugar or grated chocolate, and serve.