An Australian friend of mine loves to make pavlovas and she tempted me with a photo of one of hers. Pavlova is a cake-sized meringue topped with whipped cream and sometimes fruit. It’s a nice, light, gluten-free dessert. We had a birthday to celebrate so I made one the same day using Michelle’s pavlova recipe from Brown-eyed Baker.
The American recipes for pavlova that I’ve seen use cream of tartar to stiffen the egg whites, while Australian recipes use white vinegar. I found a couple of (American) sources stating that cream of tartar works better than lemon juice or vinegar to stiffen egg whites, but my Aussie friend assured me that she would never use cream of tartar in one of her pavlovas (something like ‘over my dead body’). She sent me her recipe a few days later and I will try it next time.
Aussie recipes also call for superfine, or caster, sugar. Since that’s not a common ingredient here in the US, I ground up granulated sugar very briefly in the Vitamix to make it superfine without blending it all the way to powdered sugar. That made the sugar less dense, yet I used the sugar quantity in the American recipe, so my pavlova turned out less sweet. We all liked it fine that way, especially with sweetened whipped cream for a topping.
I’ve read dire warnings online about how changing the proportions of ingredients will make a pavlova not turn out: luckily the egg whites whipped up amazingly firmly for me, enough that I called my son over to check it out. I used a wire whisk in the stand mixer for the recommended time.
I made raspberry-sweetened whipped cream from heavy whipping cream, Chambord raspberry liqueur, and a little sugar and vanilla. I topped the pavlova with the whipped cream, then garnished it with fresh raspberries and blackberries.
Once you top a pavlova with whipped cream its lifespan is limited. It immediately sags a little in the middle (this is not a super-elegant dessert) and left for too long will become soggy, so it’s best to serve it immediately. (Hmm. Now I notice that my friend only put the whipped cream around the sides of the cake. Next time?)
I had no trouble finishing up the leftovers the next day. Guess I don’t mind a bit of sogginess as long as it’s pavlova.
Here are a couple of pavlova recipes from my expat blogger friend Maureen of Orgasmic Chef: