There couldn't be a simpler yet thoroughly sophisticated dessert than the Pavlova. I had never heard of a Pavlova, let alone tasted it, till a year ago while on vacation in Goa. It’s not commonly found on dessert menus (at least in my experience) in India for some reason. To put it very simply, a Pavlova is a meringue topped with whipped cream or chocolate mousse and fruit. It’s crunchy on the outside and soft and marshmallow-like on the inside. The Pavlova was created in honour of Anna Pavlova, a famous Russian ballerina while she toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. Whether it was first conceived in Australia or New Zealand is apparently still a matter of debate. Regardless of who invented it, we’re just glad someone did! Even though they take a while to prepare, they’re infinitely adaptable (both meringue and topping) and also gluten-free. Yay!
Pavlovas make an elegant summer dessert; they’re light and airy with bursts of fruit in every bite. While in the west 'summer fruit' includes strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and cherries, in India summer signals mango season, so how could I resist?
It’s important to know that traditionally the colour of a Pavlova is off-white. To ensure this, your oven needs to be not too hot as this caramelizes the sugar in the meringue and turns it a pinkish-brown colour. This is merely an aesthetic blemish and doesn't affect the taste at all - even if it was to change colour slightly don’t worry because it’ll still taste great!
PAVLOVAS WITH MANGO AND KIWI
Makes 6 mini Pavlovas
Ingredients for the Pavlova
4 egg whites
1 cup super fine/castor sugar
1 teaspoon (tsp) vanilla essence
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tablespoon (tbsp) cornflour
Ingredients for the Topping
Juice of 1 lemon
Handful of shredded mint leaves
1 cup double cream
Things You'll Need
A mixing bowl
A rubber spatula
An electric hand-beater
A baking tray
A coffee mug
A coffee mug
Creating the MagicPAVLOVA
- Preheat the oven to 90 degrees Celsius. It’s important to note that Pavlovas bake better at lower temperatures for a longer period of time.
- Line the baking tray with a sheet of butter paper and on it stencil out six, evenly-spaced circles of about 4 - 4.5" each (I used the mouth of a coffee cup to do this). Turn the butter paper over so that the pencil marks are facing the bottom.
- Beat the eggs till white, soft peaks form. This is best done with a hand-beater.
- Slowly add the super fine sugar spoon by spoon, and continue to mix vigorously till it’s well incorporated in the egg whites.
- Add the vanilla essence and blend well.
- Gently fold in the vinegar and cornflour with the help of a rubber spatula.
- Using the spatula spread the meringue mixture into the circles drawn on the butter paper. Make sure the edges of the meringue nests are higher than their centre so that later they're able to hold the whipped cream and fruit mixture.
- Pop the tray into the oven and bake for about 60-75 minutes or until the outside of the meringue is dry and very slightly pink in colour.
- Once done, switch off the oven, open the door slightly and leave the meringues inside to cool slowly. Don’t be alarmed if cracks develop as this is typical of the cooling process.
- Once completely cooled, the meringues will appear crusty on the outside and marshmallow-like on the inside. They can either be served immediately with toppings or stored for upto 3-4 days in an airtight container.
- Chop the mangoes into small cubes and mix with lemon juice and mint leaves.
- Cut the kiwis in slices and keep aside.
- Whip the cream with the hand-beater till soft peaks form. Spoon a generous amount atop each Pavlova.
- Spread the mango topping over the cream layer and garnish with kiwi slices. Serve immediately!