Individual Pavlovas with Strawberry Compote and Mango CoulisPosted on Nov 27, 2011 | 58 comments
I love the story behind the eponymous Pavlova. The marshmallowy meringue-style dessert originated in the 1920s or 30s in honor of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. There’s something particularly romantic about a delicate, cloud-like confection named for a graceful dancer. It’s one of those dishes whose history – beyond the fact that it was named for Anna Pavlova – is murky and contested. Was it created in 1926 in Wellington, New Zealand or 1935 in Perth, Australia, by a hotel chef or a cookbook author? It’s been the cause of some debate between the two countries, both of whom proudly claim it as their own. If you live in the Middle East then you are fully aware of the hummus wars. Well, New Zealand and Australia have their own Pavlova wars, with New Zealand holding claim to the world’s largest.
Differences aside, I think we can all agree it’s a tasty, elegant dessert. What sets a Pavlova and meringue apart is the use of corn starch (ie corn flour) and a dash of vinegar in the former. I can’t speak to the science behind it, but I can tell you that this addition yields a treat with a fragile meringue crust and a soft, pillowy interior reminiscent of marshmallow. And, although I’ve enjoyed Pavlovas on many occasions I had yet to make one. Which is why I was so excited when Jennifer from the fabulous food blog Delicieux invited me to join the Great Australian Pavlova Blog Hop! You know I can’t resist a blog hop, and this one sounded particularly fun! I can’t wait to see what everyone else comes up with.
Pavlovas are typically large and topped with whipped cream and fruit. My first decision was to make smaller, individual Pavlovas, which I thought would be more fun and easier to eat. And despite the fall chill, my mind turned to tropical toppings. I had the end of last spring’s strawberries in my freezer as well as a generous amount of frozen chopped mango. I decided on whipped cream topped with strawberry compote and mango coulis (a fancy name for fruit sauce). Chocolate lovers take note: I also considered a chocolate sauce instead of the mango coulis, which I think would be equally fantastic. That’s part of the fun of Pavlovas: you can top them however you want. An idea for entertaining would be to set up a Pavlova bar where people can choose from a variety of fruit, chocolate, and candy toppings. Do you have a favorite Pavlova recipe? Head on over to Delicieux to link up!
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 cup superfine/castor sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- ½ tablespoon cornstarch/corn flour
- 4 ounces chopped mango (fresh or frozen)
- ¼ cup simple syrup
- Juice of ½ lemon
- ¼ cup water
- 12 ounces strawberries (fresh or frozen)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Whipped cream (preferably homemade)
- Preheat oven to 250F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw six evenly spaced, 4½-inch circles on the paper. Turn the parchment paper over so the circles are on the reverse side.
- Beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks (using an electric whisk will make easy work of this).
- Slowly add the sugar, a bit at a time, and beat vigorously until the meringue holds very stiff and shiny peaks and the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Drizzle the vinegar and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and gently fold in with a rubber spatula.
- Use the spatula to spread the meringue inside the circles drawn on the parchment paper. Make the edges of the meringue slightly higher than the center so there is a well to hold the whipped cream and fruit.
- Bake for an hour to 75 minutes, or until the outside is dry and very light pink in color.
- Shut off the oven, open the door slightly, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven. As the pavlova cools you it will crack slightly and the inside will become marshmallowy.
- The cooled meringue can be made and stored in a cool dry place, in an airtight container, for a few days.
- Put the simple syrup, chopped mango, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency (it should not be as thick as a puree but also should not be watery; use more if necessary. It can be made up to a week ahead and stored in a sealed container in the fridge.)
- Put the strawberries, sugar, water, and lemon juice in a small pot over medium-high heat.
- Bring to a boil then lower the heat to reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until strawberries are soft, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and set aside. (Can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in a sealed container in the fridge.)
- Carefully remove the Pavlova from the parchment paper. If you find they are sticking cut the paper, turn upside down, and gently peel the paper off.
- Place each Pavlova on a dessert plate. Spoon whipped cream into the center and top with a dollop of strawberry compote.
- Drizzle with mango coulis and serve immediately.