Posted: Aug 28, 2013 9:00 AM
 
Pavlova is a national treasure in New Zealand. So when one of my best friends, who happens to be a world-class chef, married a Kiwi, our group of girlfriends naturally adopted the dessert as our go-to celebratory treat. Forget buttercream — give us some chewy meringue, whipped cream and a pile of summer's ripest fruit and we're a happy bunch. One taste of this delicate dessert and you'll be hooked too.

Megan Browne is a classically trained chef and author of the blog A Village Life, which chronicles her life as an American expat raising a family in New Zealand. Throughout her career, she's prepared meals for foreign dignitaries and the world's rich and famous, but these days she's most often found in her home kitchen cooking for her husband and three young daughters. And if it's a special occasion, you can bet that pavlova will be on the menu. Just one taste of this light-as-air dessert and you'll be running to whip up some egg whites. Chef Megan gives us some background on this gluten-free indulgence and her recipe!


Can you explain why pavlova is so beloved by the people of New Zealand?

Megan Browne^Pavlova is the national dessert of New Zealand. Kiwis are fiercely patriotic people so if they proclaim that something is theirs, everyone else should back off (Aussies take note).

Do you ever play with the recipe? Or is that considered sacrilegious? If so, what's your favorite variation on the traditional preparation?

MB^ I do play with the recipe from time to time. It is not sacrilege, but the typical kiwi fruit and passion fruit topping is most traditional. I've seen variations but it's not very common. One favorite of mine was a recipe I found for tiramalova — a cross between tiramisu and pavlova. It's a pavlova-based dessert made up of multiple coffee flavored meringue layers with mascarpone filling and chocolate shavings. It was sublime.

Do your kids like it too? Or is it considered a grown-up dessert?

MB^It is adored by kids as well as adults. Everyone eats pavlova here, from babies to grandparents and everyone in between.

Pavlova

Ingredients:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Whisk egg whites until foamy and then slowly add half the sugar while continuing to whisk. Add half the cornstarch and half the vinegar. Continue to whisk, gradually add in the rest of the sugar finishing off with the remainder of cornstarch and vinegar and the vanilla. The meringue mixture should now have stiff, glossy white peaks. This process should take about 10 minutes with an electric whisk. Pile the meringue into a round, fluffy, nest-like pillow on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
  3. Bake for about 30 minutes. The outside should be hard to the touch but not browned. If it starts to color, turn the oven down slightly. Once the outside is crisp, take it out of the oven and leave to cool. It may collapse just a bit at this stage but this is normal.
  4. Whisk plenty of fresh cream and pile it in the center of the pavlova and then add an assortment of seasonal fruit cut into bite-sized pieces onto the top of the pavlova. This traditionally would include berries of any sort, kiwi fruit, mango and passion fruit.


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