Knowing that I’m part of a food blog now, I realized I couldn’t sit on my “going to restaurants and taking photos” and “having a cute baby who eats” butt for too long. I wanted Helen to be happy that she invited me to blog with her. When Paul told me he had invited his brother and his brother’s fiancee over to have dinner, I decided I was going to make a dessert. At first I was absolutely set on making some molten chocolate cakes, but I realized that they were not very warm weather appropriate. Molten chocolate cakes are for winter, not summer.
Digging through one of my baking books, How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking, I discovered that Nigella Lawson had a gorgeous summery shot of some pavlovas.
And it struck me — I would make them. They were covered with red fruit, and topped by billowly clouds of whipped cream. How could they not be perfect? They’re practically clouds themselves!
Very luckily, every time Paul made ice cream, he stuck the egg whites in the freezer, and we had more than enough to make them. I pulled out the eight required and whipped them up in my Kitchen Aid mixer. After I added the sugar, they become shiny and lucious looking.
After all the mixing, I tossed the batch into the oven (heated at 350 degrees, but immediately cooled to 300 when I put them in).
A mere hour later, the pavlovas were out cooling on our wire racks. I was admittedly worried at this point because I thought I detected the scent of vinegar from the egg white whipping, but I pushed through. While the pavlovas had been cooking, I had washed two pints of raspberries, which are my favorite red summer fruit, and possibly my favorite fruit of all time.
I had also whipped up some heavy cream with some vanilla and sugar. Then, when everything was properly cooled, I layered pavlovas, whipped cream, and berries. A short dusting of powdered sugar later, and I had a gorgeous looking dessert.
How were they? Well, Eric declared me his hero during a game of Scattegories and he gave the reason as the pavlovas! They were much like crispy toasted marshmallows covered with whipped cream and fruit. Make of that what you will, but I ate a second one by myself.
8 egg whites
1 1/2 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
4 teaspoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
Whip the egg whites with the pinch of salt until the whole thing becomes soft and billowy. I didn’t get to anything resembling firm peaks, but it was definitely billowy! At that point, add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until it becomes glossy and shiny and has soft peaks, beating the whole time. Or, do what I did, and just add it a 1/4th of a cup at a time.
When this is done, add the cornstarch, vanilla, and white wine vinegar to your egg whites. The recipe calls for folding it all in gently, but I just used the Kitchen Aid’s lowest mixing setting and went for it. It all turned out lovely in the end, though it smelled slightly vinegar-y at this point.
I had two baking sheets covered with parchment paper. I used the egg whites to make three four-inch circles of fluff on each sheet. I made sure to slightly make them concave so that the whipped cream and berries would have a resting spot on the pavlovas after they baked up.
Put the sheets in an over that has been pre-heated to 350 degrees. Now, as soon as the sheets have been put in, though, you want to turn the heat to 300 degrees. After 30 minutes, turn the heat off completely, but keep the pavlovas in the oven. After another 30 minutes, take them out of the oven and put them on wire racks. I followed Nigella’s recommendation to just move the parchment paper straight to the racks.
When it was all done and cooled, I topped the whole of it with Chantilly cream and the raspberries, but I think any berries would look striking. In fact, the picture in the book shows currants and pomegranate seeds used as well, and the pomegranate version looked so tasty, that I’m tempted to make that next.
Verdict: A success to be repeated!