What’s not to love about Pavlova? Meringue, whipped cream and fresh fruit – a perfect trio of textures and tastes. Named for the legendary Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, the dessert was purportedly first created in her honour during a tour of New Zealand in the 1920s. Unlike traditional meringues which are usually soft throughout, the inclusion of cornstarch in Pavlova gives it a crispy exterior and adds to its delicate texture. In the past I have always made larger Pavlovas which can be rather tricky to serve; by shaping individual or miniature versions, that problem is eliminated and the dessert looks much prettier too! Two more great things: this dessert is gluten-free AND you can use lactose-free yogurt instead of whipped cream!
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/3 cup (85 grams) white sugar
- Pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon (1 mL) vanilla extract
- ¾ cup (180 mL) heavy cream (or lactose-free plain or vanilla yogurt)
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) white sugar
- Few drops almond or vanilla extract
- ½ cup (120 mL) sliced soft fruit (strawberries and kiwi are my favourites)
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- With an electric beater or stand mixer, whip egg whites until foamy.
- Add sugar slowly, about a teaspoon at a time, and continue to whip until the egg whites hold stiff peaks.
- Add salt, vinegar, cornstarch and vanilla and beat well; the mixture should be stiff enough to stand when cut (draw a knife through the mixture and the cut should hold, rather than collapsing).
- Transfer the mixture to a small zip lock bag and seal the bag, pressing out air in the bag as you do so.
- With scissors, snip off ¼” (.6 cm) on one corner of the bag.
- Pipe the egg white mixture into small nests on the baking sheet by squeezing the bag gently. Start by making about a ¾ inch (2 cm) disc (the base of each Pavlovas) and then surround that with a crown of meringue about 1 inch (2.5 cm) high. You should be able to make 8 mini Pavlovas in this fashion.
- Turn the oven off and put the baking sheet into the oven.
- Leave the Pavlovas in the oven until it is cold (this will take several hours).
- When the oven is cold, remove the baking tray. The Pavlovas can be filled per the instructions below or transferred to an airtight container and stored for up to 4 days.
- When ready to fill the Pavlovas, whip the cream until stiff. Add sugar and almond or vanilla extract and whip until blended.
- Put a heaping teaspoonful of whipped cream (or yogurt, flavoured with a little almond or vanilla extract) in the centre of each Pavlova. Top with a few slices of fruit. Serve within 2 hours (refrigerate if not serving immediately).
Makes 8 mini Pavlovas.