Is there anything more heavenly than biting into a soft and chewy piece of meringue, especially when it’s covered with fresh whipped cream, and sweet, tart berries? Maybe. But if you’ve tried Pavlova before, you understand the pure dessert euphoria I’m talking about.
If you’ve never tried Pavlova, you should know that it’s an understated favourite of many. Light and airy, while still decadently indulgent, Pavlova strikes the chord between elegant and home-style goodness. And with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, methinks it’s time for meringue.
Pavlova is a unique dessert that consists of one, or multiple layers of fluffy, white meringue. In between each meringue is a layer of fresh whipped cream and fruit. The whole thing is then covered again in whipped cream and more fruit, creating a seriously luscious back and forth between marshmallow-y chewiness, whipped cream, and berry sweetness.
Where did it come from?
You may be surprised to learn how loaded a question that is. Though it’s named after a famous Russian ballerina, Australians and New Zealanders have been squabbling over who invented this tasty treat for ages. Both countries enjoy Pavlova, affectionately called “pav” in both regions, so much that this heated debate continues to this day.
The story goes like this. Anna Pavlova toured in both countries in 1926. Since then, New Zealanders have defended that a chef in Wellington created the meringue cake in her honor. Alternatively, Australians argue that the dessert was created in Perth, where it was named after Anna after one diner exclaimed that her dish was “light as Pavlova”.
The dispute was most formally settled after the Oxford English Dictionary stated that the first recorded pavlova recipe appeared in New Zealand in 1927, though many Australians remain skeptical and continue to believe it was them who coined the recipe.
Moral of the story?
As far as international disputes go, there are probably bigger fish to fry. If anything, I would encourage you to let the intensity of this argument stand as a testament to how damn good this dessert is. Or, if you insist, join in on the controversy and share your Pavlova creation online, crediting one of the two countries–then watch the flames burn. Just make sure you tag us.
Just kidding. But if you’ve got time to prepare something more exciting than chocolate-covered strawberries this Valentine’s Day, a Pavlova is the perfect thing to treat your(self) loved ones too!
- 6 Egg whites
- 300g Sugar
- 1 Pinch of salt
- 250ml Freshly whipped cream
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp Caster sugar
- Fresh berries
- Mint (to garnish)
- 1 Cup fresh or frozen raspberries
- 1/4 Cup caster sugar
To make the meringue:
- Preheat your oven to 150C. On two oven trays that have been lined with baking paper, draw two circles that are approximately 15cm in diameter. This will be the size of your meringues. Set aside.
- In a large bowl or food processor, whisk egg whites until fluffy. Stiff peaks that can hold themselves up should begin to form.
- Switch mixer to high speed, and gradually add the sugar. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl to get the sugar at the top of the bowl.
- Add the salt, then continue to mix on high until the mixture has turned into a shiny, smooth, white batter.
- Returning back to your baking sheet with the drawn circles, divide the mixture between the two circles and bake for approximately 90 minutes. You can tell the meringue has finished cooking when the meringue is firm to the touch, and ever so slightly browned in colour.
- Set aside until completely cool.
For the raspberry coulis:
- In a small pot, combine all coulis ingredients and bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce heat slightly and cook until all of the sugar has dissolved (2-3 minutes). Set aside.
- To assemble the pavlova, lay one meringue round on a serving dish, then spread a generous layer of fresh whipped cream and some of the fresh berries. Lay the second layer of meringue down over top, then cover with another layer of fresh cream and berries. Garnish with fresh mint leaves, and pour the raspberry coulis over the pavlova just before serving.
This is a basic Pavlova recipe, but many different variations exist! What’s your favourite way to enjoy Pavlova?