Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The bell rings, the dog drools. The Pavlova response.

I'm a big fan of cooking shows, especially competitive ones. Back in the day it was Iron Chef out of Japan and Ready, Steady, Cook from the UK. The genre has certainly expanded in the last few years with the advent of Top Chef in the US and MasterChef in the UK. Last year MasterChef opened a franchise in Australia as well. The format is very different than the UK version with major tryouts across the country for amateur chefs, the best of whom went on to compete in the season. For some of us it was a first time exposure to some Australian classics. One of those is Pavlova. What is Pavlova you ask? Well, it's a GIANT meringue, with a crisp outside and marshmallowy middle. It's traditionally served with whipped cream and berries. Well, about 6 months ago I gave it a go and it came out pretty well. The recipe calls for egg whites only, so I figured I'd make a custard to go along with it and settled on Creme Anglaise. Needless to say, big hit. Then one of my twins asked if she could make it the following week. And the week after. And the week after. So, what started out as a one time goof off in the kitchen for a special treat has turned into an almost weekly indulgence. This is a bit of a time consuming endeavor, so unless you have lots of time, or cheap teenage laborers you might want to push it off for a special occasion.

Ingredients: Pavlova
6 Egg whites
1 cup sugar powder
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 tbsp cornstarch

Creme Anglaise
6 egg yolks
2 cups light cream (we use vanilla soy milk, for that parve feeling)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar

Preheat your oven to 250F(130C).
You'll have to separate your eggs. This really isn't hard, but may take a bit of practice, do each egg over a bowl and only when you're sure there's no yolk in the white and only then put the white into a mixing bowl.

Get out your handy dandy electric mixer and get to whipping. You'll want to get it to the soft peak stage, where you lift the mixer out and it leaves a bit peak that holds for a few seconds and then melts just a bit.
At this point you want to start adding the sugar a big spoon at a time. Keep beating while you're adding the sugar.

We had some extra help.  Keep beating until you get very stiff peaks, that is to say when you lift the mixer the meringue holds the peak and doesn't move.

Then sprinkle the vinegar and cornstarch on top and fold in with a spatula. Then lay a piece of baking parchment on a baking tray and dump the meringue out onto it.

With a spoon or spatula shape it into a big round flat topped mountain.
Bang that puppy into the oven for about an hour and quarter. It should be crisp and firm on the outside. It'll start to crack as it cools down and you'll start seeing cracks form on the outside, this means it's still soft on the inside.  So, well done you!

While the Pavlova is baking away you can get to the Creme Anglaise.
We kind of cheat along the way, but that's fine, that's the hallmark of the good amateur home chef.
So, you have your egg yolks from the Pavlova.

Mix in the sugar, slowly, you don't want to beat it. Those are good yolks, they don't deserve it.
Separately heat up the cream and vanilla in a saucepan just to the boiling point. Remove from heat and slowly whisk it bit by bit into the egg and sugar mixture. Then pour the mixture back into the saucepan.

Gently heat the mixture and keep stirring. You don't want it to get too hot or you'll end up with with sweet vanilla scrambled eggs. You also need to keep stirring. If you have a Robostir you'll be good. The creme should be just steaming, but not boiling. You'll keep this up while the custard thickens. It's ready when you can dip a wooden spoon in it, hold it up and run your finger through the custard and the line remains.

Then it's done. Now is the part where we cheat. Unless you're a great natural cook and your custard comes out creamy smooth you'll probably have a few lumps. So, into the food processor. Give it a good blitz, this will also aerate it a bit adding a bit more body and make it smooth and creamy.

It'll still be warm, so you should put it in a bowl and into the fridge to cool down. Well, that's the hard part. A dollop or two of whipped cream on top of the Pavlova and sprinkle with fresh berries or kiwi slices and serve. Cut into slices like you would a cake, the inside should be soft and fluffy, dress with a  few spoons of the Creme Anglaise. Enjoy with close friends and family.

1 comment:

  1. You're very brave, stating that the pavlova is Australian. I hope you never tell a New Zealand chef that! Most websites will credit both countries lest they cause a trans-Tasman commotion. :P