Ma Vie En Rose: La Pavlova

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Pavlova in the winter.

Since I started the first Ma Vie En Rose on a meringue theme–let’s keep going shall we?

But first a few disclosures..

Fact #1: I’ve taken way too many photos throughout the years of the Pavlovas I’ve made. I should have organized them better on my phone. Lesson learned.

Fact #2: I suffer from selective laziness, and this usually surfaces when I am in no mood to conjure up a new dessert. I instead default to the easiest and most convenient dessert–my BFF and reliable Pav.

Fact #3: The Pavlova is a dessert named after the famous Russian Ballerina Anna Pavlova. There have been debates whether its origin is from Australia or New Zealand. Just recently, the Dessert Committee (I’m sure one exists in a sacred secret pastry society) may have ended this debate by proclaiming that its origin is from New Zealand. Either way, I am one of the many grateful recipients of this delectable concoction: a meringue based, topped with fresh whipped cream, fruit, and chocolate chards.

A bit of my history here–years ago, I came across the most beautiful British woman ever: Nigella Lawson. Granted, my encounter with her was only on the T.V. as she whipped her version of the grilled cheese sandwich (mozzarella in carozza), and I became intrigued by her recipes. Soon after, I bought all of her books (essay to follow later). One in particular, was “Forever Summer” and it featured recipes that could be easily followed.

 

NIGELLA LAWSON
Nigella Lawson. Forever Summer. 2002

Little did I know then that my love affair with the Pavlova began, and our game is still going strong today. I have issues with following recipes sometimes. In all honesty, sometimes I over add an ingredient—“oops that was too much of a teaspoon of vanilla,” or “oh crap, did I level that cup of flour correctly–meh, it’ll work,” or the best “oh shit, was that baking powder or baking soda?” But, with my Pav–there’s no worries of those ingredients, because she literally only has 5-7 ingredients in her repertoire.

Although, she does not carry with her a lot of baggage, I must say that similar to a love affair–there were moments when I wanted to call it off forever–but similar to psychotic lovers, I always return– making it even better than before.

To prove my point about our relationship, consider the following:

PAV 3
A Pavlova close up.
PAV SQUARE
4th of July Pavlova. Photo by JAH.
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Pavlova during the holidays.
PAV SHELLSJPG
Naked Pavlovas.  JAH.
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Pavlova made in the dead of winter night. Photo by JAH.

There have been moments when my patience has worn thin, but I found that patience comes along with the years.  I’ve learned not to rush the process, and in fact, if possible bake the meringue shell the night before and leave it in the oven (once you’ve turned it off, of course) overnight. With that said, I’ve also had to rush and make the Pav–and the hack that I’ve learned is to immerse the fridge cold eggs in warm water for several minutes–because you’ll need room temperature eggs to ensure that the meringue will reach its stiff peaks.

Another thought–I would have to say that the pavlova is best made during the summer when the berries and fruits are abundant.  I’ve attempted to make the pavlova with different fruits before, but those are rare. I once tried it with passion fruit, and well it looked like Pav had cockroach shit all over her. In avoidance of such crap, I default once again to laziness, and a devotion to simplicity: stick to what I know.

 

If your interested in the recipe, I’ve included in below:

CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY PAVLOVA

by Nigella. Featured in NIGELLA SUMMER

INGREDIENTS

Serves: 8-10

METRIC CUPS

FOR THE CHOCOLATE MERINGUE BASE

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1½ cups superfine sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (sieved)
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (finely chopped)

FOR THE TOPPING

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 pound raspberries
  • 3 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate (coarsely grated)

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  2. Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar, and the chopped chocolate. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in. Mound on to a baking sheet in a fat circle approximately 23cm / 9 inches in diameter, smoothing the sides and top. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 150°C/gas mark 2/300ºF and cook for about one to one and a quarter hours. When it’s ready it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but when you prod the centre you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the chocolate meringue disc cool completely.
  3. When you’re ready to serve, invert on to a big, flat-bottomed plate. Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter over the raspberries. Coarsely grate the chocolate so that you get curls rather than rubble, as you don’t want the raspberries’ luscious colour and form to be obscured, and sprinkle haphazardly over the top, letting some fall, as it will, on the plate’s rim.

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