I love the luscious berries of summer— bright red strawberries and raspberries, beautiful blackberries and deep indigo blueberries.
The name of the dessert was chosen in honor of Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, but it’s an on-going debate on whether the dessert originated in New Zealand or Australia, with both countries claiming ownership.
Pavlova toured both New Zealand and Australia in 1926 and Australia again in 1929. A similar recipe for “Meringue with Fruit Filling,” can be traced back to a 1926 New Zealand cookbook, Home Cookery for New Zealand.
In 1935, Chef Herbert Sachse of the Hotel Esplanade in Perth, where Pavlova had stayed in her 1929 visit to Australia, created a dessert in the ballerina’s honor. The resulting recipe he called “Pavlova,” after someone commented that, “It was as light as Pavlova.”
Chef Sachse commented that he had “improved” upon a recipe for a Meringue Cake which he found in “Women’s Mirror Magazine,” which, ironically, had been submitted by a New Zealand resident.
It would seem that the New Zealanders first developed the recipe, but it wasn’t until an Australian chef developed his recipe that the name and the recipe became more widely known around the world and became an important part of the national cuisine of both countries.
The dessert was a metaphorical representation of the ballerina, with the colorful fruit and the light, frothy meringue epitomizing the magnificence of the dancer’s costumes and her “lighter than air” form.
Very Berry Pavlova
4 egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup sugar
½ cup more sugar for macerating the berries
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup each strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries
Zest of one lemon
¾ cup heavy cream, chilled
3 TB sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¾ cup mascarpone
Heat oven to 200°.
Place parchment paper on baking sheet, and set aside.
In a stand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue beating on medium-high. Gradually add in 2 tablespoons of the sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar until the whites are stiff and glossy.
Sift powdered sugar over egg whites and gently fold in until just combined.
Either spread or pipe the mixture onto the parchment paper, making two large circles. Build the circles up on the sides so as to contain the berries and whipped cream.
Bake for two hours until lightly browned. Do not open oven door. Turn off oven and let the meringue cool in the oven for about an hour.
While the meringue is cooling, macerate the berries. I combined the red berries in one bowl and the black and blue berries in a second bowl. Sprinkle the extra sugar over top of the berries, add the lemon zest, and let them sit for at least an hour. The sugar serves to draw moisture out of the fruit, which ends up combining with the sugar to create a lovely syrup.
Beat the heavy cream at medium speed until soft peaks form. (Rosie Note: When beating cream, you want the cream, bowl, and beaters cold, so I set the bowl and beaters in the freezer for a few minutes. When you beat eggs, you want them at room temperature to achieve the best volume.) Beat in the 3 tablespoons of sugar and the vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gently mix in the mascarpone.
To assemble, place one meringue on a serving dish, spread a quarter of the whipped cream mixture on top, spoon half the berries and syrup over the whipped cream. Spread a quarter of the whipped cream, and top with the other meringue. Spoon the rest of the whipped cream and remaining fruit on top. And enjoy immensely.
If desired, drizzle chocolate syrup over top of your Pavlova and pour a glass of the bubbly and you have a trifecta of perfection.
Whenever you whip egg whites, be sure to have them at room temperature (for maximum volume) and with absolutely no contamination from yolks, oil, or water.
To get egg whites to room temperature crack them into a small bowl and place the bowl in a larger bowl of warm water. Be sure no water gets in the whites.
Rosie Hint #396: Don't bother making meringues when it's raining.