Saturday, 30 March 2013

Raspberry Pavlova

This pavlova is so easy to make, and makes the most spectacular dessert.  You can use any fruit you wish,
and you will be limited only by your own imagination with the decorative part.  The important rule to remember is once you have decorated it, it really needs to be eaten within an hour or else it will dissolve before your very eyes!!

You will need:

  • 4 eggs whites (medium)
  • 250 g golden caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Whisk the egg whites until stiff and stand in peaks (once it has reached this stage cease whisking and move on to step 2)
2.  Add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, making sure that each addition of sugar is thoroughly mixed in before adding the next
3.  When the mixture has all the sugar added, and is thick and glossy, add the white wine vinegar, cornflour, and vanilla extract
4.  Preheat oven to 150 C Fan
5.  Line a baking sheet with baking parchment (or greaseproof paper)
6.  Spoon the meringue mixture onto the baking parchment into a free form circle, approximately 7-8 inches diameter
7.  Using a palette knife swirl the mixture and pile the sides of the circle higher than the middle, so that the fruit will not fall out when you are ready to decorate it
8.  Using a cocktail stick, you can twirl it through the outer edge of the pavlova to make small spikes which will crisp up in the oven
pavlova before baking
9.  Bake on the top shelf for 1 hour, turn down the temperature after 5 minutes to 140 C Fan
10.  After 1 hour, turn off the oven, open the oven door slightly, and leave pavlova in the oven to cool down with the oven cooling.  Leaving this overnight in the cooling oven will give better results
pavlova after baking and during its' cooling down time
11.  Decorate your pavlova as you wish, I have used raspberries and fresh cream on mine!  All berries, kiwi fruit, or passion fruit would be excellent toppers for your pavlova (photo of finished pavlova to follow)
The assembled pavlova (lined with whipped fresh cream, and topped with raspberries*)
* the raspberries in the above photo were bought frozen, and have defrosted quite mushy; with the benefit of hindsight, I would have used fresh raspberries for this, with a small amount pureed as a sauce!  Nevertheless it still got the thumbs up from everyone present for Easter Sunday lunch :)  Lurking in the background is a huge bowl of Sherry Trifle!

Some meringue tips to help you achieve the best results:
  • When separating the eggs, make sure no yolk escapes into the white.  If it does discard that particular egg from your meringue mixture as it will not foam up in stiff peaks
  • Make sure the bowl you use to whisk the meringue is spotlessly clean and free from any fat.  You can rub a slice of lemon around the bowl to ensure all fat residue has been eradicated
  • If you have left over egg whites from other recipes such as custard, brulee, or fondants, freeze the egg whites in containers (1 to each container so that you know how many egg whites you have).  Frozen then defrosted (at room temperature) egg whites bulk up better for meringues
  • When separating your egg whites use a small bowl to break the egg into, rather than break(and separate) into the main bowl; this way if you do get any yolk into the mixture, you do not have to discard all the egg whites
  • The addition of cornflour and white wine vinegar should give you a soft mallowy middle to the meringue (if you do not want a mallowy middle, then just eliminate them from the recipe)
  • A lower heat bake (say around 80-90 C Fan) will give you a whiter meringue
  • Using golden caster sugar will give your meringue a slightly caramel flavour and more golden colour
  • Make sure you do not add the sugar too quickly (a spoonful at a time) or it will 'bleed' after cooking.  Also make sure it has been well mixed in after each addition, by rubbing a small amount between thumb and finger, if it is grainy, it has not been whisked sufficiently between each addition.  Just extend the whisking time after each addition of sugar
  • Before adding the sugar, make sure you do not over whisk the egg whites, just until the mixture is stiff and stands in peaks is sufficient (you can test if it whisked sufficiently by tipping the bowl upside down over your head - this is the classic test...if it stays in the bowl, it is perfect!)
  • Don't decorate your pavlova until you are ready to eat it, or it will go soft and begin to dissolve!

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