I have to admit, I’ve been pretty excited to try this recipe for quite some time now and it only made its’ way to the top of my list recently all thanks to a little help from a new friend! Tell me, what better way to guide the process than through the recipe of one who knows best! This Australian dessert is quite the masterpiece, and I was thrilled to try it out for the first time with a recipe passed on to me from my friend, who got it from his grandma back in Australia! I couldn’t be in better hands!
A little on the dessert before I share the meringue whipped-creamed magic with you all…it’s a popular dish and an important part of the national cuisine of both Australia and New Zealand, and with its simple recipe, it’s frequently served during celebratory & holiday meals – which made Christmas the perfect chance for me to make a yummy colorful one!
The dessert is believed to have been created in honour of the dancer, Anna Pavlova, who visited Australia & New Zealand in the 1920s – the nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two countries for many years…There’s actually a popular book from 2008 by Helen Leach, ‘The Pavlova Story: A Slice of New Zealand’s Culinary History’…she’s made is pretty clear who she believes owns the dessert…Anywho, there’s also research that suggests that the dessert originated in the United States, based entirely on the Spanische Windtorte, an earlier Austrian dish.
Without paying too much attention to all the obsessed origins debaters out there…the prettier story goes that a hotel chef in Wellington, New Zealand, created the dish when Anna Pavlova visited there on her world tour in 1926. And so, the term Pavlova was coined for the delicious meringue & whipped cream dessert. It has a crisp & crunchy outer shell, and a soft, moist marshmallow-like cream center, in contrast to meringue kisses, which are usually solid through-out. Pavlovas are traditionally decorated with a topping of whipped cream and fresh soft fruit, such as kiwifruit, passionfruit, and berries. I chose Christmas-y green & red, and it was a beautiful center-piece on my holiday table!
For the Pav
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup (280 grams of sugar)
- 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
- 2/3 cup (190g) of cream cheese
- 1/4 cup (30g) of confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest
- 2 cups of whipping cream
- Seasonal fruit
Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Begin by beating the eggs whites until fluffy. Add the cup of sugar slowly, and continue beating. Add the cornstarch, white vinegar, & vanilla extract. Beat for about three minutes. On a two baking sheets lined with parchment paper, divided the meringue equally and spread to two rounds, approximately 20-30 centimeters in diameter and about 3 centimeters thick. Reduce the oven temperature to 100°C (200°F) and bake them for one hour.
A little break in tradition: this part of the recipe was taken from a Mexican pavlova recipe – and I just couldn’t resist! It’s important I make this clear, since I really want to be true to my Australian grandma’s recipe – but the latin sugar-crazed babe in me couldn’t leave this deliciously sweet nectar outta my Pav! All we need to do is whip the cream cheese with the powdered sugar & grated lemon zest for about three minutes – YUM, you can check out this version on the kiwilimon Facebook page. But quick, now back to the authentic recipe.
Once the meringue rounds are done, turn off the oven and open the oven door to let them cool. Very important! Cool them with the oven door open, without removing them from the heat, as the contrast between the temperature inside the oven and the temperature on your kitchen counter will only make the meringue crack very quickly!
When cool, set one meringue round on a plate for serving. Add a layer of the sweetened cream cheese, followed by a thick layer of the whipped cream. I also added a filling of cherry jam in the middle for an extra sweetening surprise! Sprinkle some of the sliced fruit and top with the second meringue round. Add another round of the sweetened cream cheese and top with as many colorful fruits as you’d like!
Leftover pavlova can be refrigerated overnight, but the dessert will definitely not be any promising, since it will absorb all the moisture and lose its crispness. The Pav is popular on Christmas Day as a dessert usually served after being refrigerated due to Christmas being celebrated during the summer in the southern hemisphere. My guests this Christmas Eve were not only surprised by the lovely dessert I created, but they were floored by the delicious & surprisingly delicate flavors the combination has to offer. A total hit for my Christmas feast grand finale! Thanks so much to my Aussie mate who shared this delicious authentic recipe with me! Be sure to try it out for yourselves, it’s a wonderfully tasteful adventure in itself!
**Interesting fact about the world’s largest pavlova: New Zealand’s national museum in Wellington, the Te Papa, celebrated its first birthday in February 1999 with the creation of the world’s largest pavlova, named ‘Pavzilla’. This record was broken by students at the Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, in March 2005. Their creation ‘Pavkong’ stretched 64 meters long in comparison to the previous record-holder’s 45 meters.