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Pavlovas (Cream-Filled Meringues)

From Chef Oonagh Williams of Royal Temptations Catering

Pavlovas are Australian in origin and supposedly were created for Anna Pavlova, a famous ballerina. It is like a meringue, but while a meringue is meant to be dry and crispy throughout, a pavlova should have a crisp outside and have marshmallow texture within.

Pavlovas can be made a day or so in advance, as long as you store them airtight. Do not attempt to make this recipe in humid or rainy weather, or in a kitchen where you have just been boiling pasta. The air will be too moist. 

Ingredients:

  • 3 extra large egg whites or 4 large egg whites (egg substitute won’t work)
  • 1 cup regular sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp white wine vinegarGluten-Free Pavlova
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • whipped cream (recipe for homemade whipped cream below)
  • fresh fruit, i.e. sliced strawberries, peaches, blueberries (optional)
  • chocolate sauce (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2. Draw an 8” circle on parchment paper and place paper on a baking sheet.

3. In a totally clean and grease-free bowl (preferably glass or metal), whisk egg whites until very stiff. Add half the sugar and beat until mix forms peaks again. Beat in remaining sugar until mix forms peaks again.

4. Add vanilla, vinegar and cornstarch. Beat again to peaks.

5. Spoon out the meringue onto the prepared sheet and spread to cover the circle. Pile the meringue up around the edges to form a case, and form little swirls on outside edges.

6. Bake in the oven for about 1-1/4 hours, until firm. When cooked properly, the meringue should easily lift up from the parchment paper. If it still seems sticky, cook for a longer period of time, and checking every 5 minutes. You can also check by cutting a very small piece from outside edge to see if the middle is still marshmallow like. The meringue will expand slightly and might look cracked and should remain very pale, golden brown. 

7. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Remove from parchment paper.

8. Fill with whipped cream flavored with gluten-free liqueur, or plain cream with fruit. To make your own, combine 1 cup heavy or whipping cream, 1 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp gluten-free liqueur. Whip until stiff.

9. Drizzle chocolate sauce around the plate and lightly over the pavlovas. Enjoy!

Tips/Alternatives: Fill the pavlova with cream/fruit only about 1 hour before serving. That gives time for the topping to soften the crisp outer layer of the pavlova, so when you eat it, the marshmallowy inside and cream topping merge together.

Pavlovas can be served with any filling - lemon curd, raspberry, blueberry or chocolate sauce, fresh fruit and freshly whipped cream - so choose your favorite!

For a variation, pipe or spoon the meringue into 8-10 large round mounds that are 3 inches wide on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon liner. With the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked.

You can also draw a 3-4” heart shaped outline on the parchment paper and fill in shape with a spoon of mix or pipe mix into outline with a piping bag and decorative pipe. (See picture)

In this case, reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake small pavlovas for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, white (not tan), dry to the touch on the outside, and barely cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking too much, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn the pan around.

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