Ya know, you learn something new every day. I, without being able to fully understand why, have always loved the name Pavlova. I suppose that it could be partly because of the way that it rolls off the tongue. Or perhaps partly because I always wanted to be a ballerina. Or, in all honestly, partly because it is part of the name that I made up for myself when I used to (cough..) pretend that I was the long-lost heir to the Romanov dynasty. Had I just taken the time to google the word I would have fully understood.
Not completely disjointed from the above thoughts, Pavlova is a meringue dessert with a crisp crust and soft, light inside and tends to be topped with fruit. A major player in the menus of both New Zealand and Australia, it is said to have been created in Wellington, New Zealand in 1926 when Anna Pavlova (see above) stopped there on her world tour. Unless you ask an Australian in which case it was made when she stopped there. Either way, it is decadent.
This version of Pavlova was found in my favorite Australian blog, What Katie Ate, although I substituted strawberries for her raspberries because they are in season. Also, please note that her measurements are in some crazy language that is impossible to decipher. *Hint -100 grams is 2/3 pound which is 10.7 ounces which is just over 21 tablespoons of caster sugar… which is the unit that you use when actually using the sugar.
- 6 egg whites
- 300g caster sugar
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
- 50g good quality chocolate, at least 70% cocoa, chopped up (I used bakers 100% cocoa, because it is cheap.)
- 3 pints of fresh strawberries, chopped
- whipped cream
Preheat oven to 375 F
Put egg whites in a very clean, mixing bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Unless you are me and you have an egg white setting on your KitchenAid, in which case, just do that. Once you have soft peaks, using a tablespoon at a time, add the sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff and glossy. This is the basis of making meringue really. *Hint – unsure of when they are ready? Try holding your bowl upside down. If nothing comes out, they are ready…
Sift in the cocoa powder, add the vinegar and chopped up chocolate and then slowly fold these into your egg white / sugar mixture until fully combined and the mixture is light brown.
Line 3 cake pans with parchment paper and spoon a layer of the mixture into each. Only fill the cake pan about 1/3, don’t fill the entire pan. Try to keep the volume of each equal and spread out the top of the Pavlova so that is relatively uniform. Remember however, that this treat is not supposed to be perfect looking (Thank God) so don’t take the smoothing too seriously.
Place in the oven and immediately drop the temperature down to 275 F. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. You’ll know that the Pavlova is done when the edges are crispy and it is cracking slightly. The bottom, however, should still be a little bit squishy and soft. These should be much more dense than normal meringue cookies. Remember to leave the Pavlova in the oven, door slightly ajar, to cool completely.
And now all you have to do is throw it all together. Once the Pavlova is cool, simply place one of the layers on a platter or cake stand, top with whipped cream and scatter with strawberries. Then do that again. And then one more time. When you run out of layers Garnish with shaved chocolate and serve.