Mini Pavlovas

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been teaching classes on traditional Eastern European pastries where I only use egg yolks. Hence, ten egg whites in my fridge were getting older and older as I was trying to figure out what delicious treat they could turn into. Chocolate mousse did not sound very exciting to me and honestly, meringue by itself is nowhere close to a category of my favorite desserts. Baking cake in yesterday’s hot New Yorks’ weather was not an option at all and so I compromised as I remember of an old good Pavlova Cake named after a Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. Meringue-based pastry topped with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and berries. Refreshing, sweet enough but perfectly balanced.

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Baking meringue can be the easiest and most difficult thing at the same time. The secret behind a perfect meringue is a crispy shell on the outside with a chewy center in the middle. How to bake such a meringue? Well, there is a whole science behind it and I went through several articles on “how to”, following rules and recommendations in order to bake a perfect meringue. I find this article to be a very good guide if you want to go deeper and understand more before you start preparing a meringue. Otherwise,

my most important findings and recommendations

  • egg whites whisk better and will be more stable if they are at room temperature
  • don’t add salt to eggs before whisking (it doesn’t help – the opposite is the truth)
  • add sugar a little by little and whisk well before each addition
  • make sure your mixing bowl is clean and has no trace of fat in it
  • bake your meringue on a low temperature and keep it in an oven for several hours after the oven is off

One of the reasons why Pavlova and meringues, in general, were never on my list of favorite desserts is simply because of a huge amount of sugar needed to make them. In this recipe, sugar is not only affecting the taste but structure as well, that’s why you need to cut on it carefully. I was experimenting a bit and managed to find what I think is a good compromise – between the taste and sweetness and structure, and shape. I made my Mini Pavlova’s with a considerably lower amount of sugar managing to still hold their shape. If you decide to use even less sugar, you might be risking your meringue to collapse as sugar is in this case a structure builder – helping whisked egg whites to hold their shape. If you still try, please let me know if it worked out.

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And please, try to make this most delicious refreshing summer dessert worth to sin once upon the time. I am sure you’ll love it as now I do too. If you prepare more pieces of meringue, you can as well store them in an airtight container (protect from moisture) and just fill them up with heavy cream and berries right before serving. Try to eat just one piece at the time, though 🙂


INGREDIENTS
(makes approx. 8 small Pavlovas)

130g Egg Whites (approx. 4 Eggs)

150g Sugar (caster or fine sugar, not powdered sugar)

1 Teaspoon Corn Starch

1 Teaspoon Vinegar

Topping

250ml Heavy Whipping Cream

Fresh Berries

Herbs  (Mint/ Rosemary …)


METHOD

  1. Clean your mixing bowl with a paper towel soaked in vinegar to make sure it’s clean and has no traces of fat. Then pour in your room temperature egg whites
  2. Start whisking egg whites on low speed for some 7 minutes until you’ll get a fluffy mixture and soft peaks start to form
  3. Start adding sugar, little by little (some 2 tablespoons at a time) and keep whisking the mixture after each addition until all sugar is properly dissolved (approx. 1 minute after each addition). Repeat this until you’ll add all sugar. This might take some 10-15 minutes
  4. Once all your sugar is whisked in, pour in cornstarch dissolved in vinegar and whisk it in properly, now on a higher speed for some half a minute. The meringue should be shiny, thick, and well stabilized. There should not be pieces of sugar in it
  5. Line your baking sheet with a parchment paper and spread a meringue mix on it forming small round cakes. There are many techniques on how to – I only use a tablespoon to do it and shape small circles thick approximately 1 inch or 3 cm. You can even pipe your meringue. Bake your meringue on 220°F or 110°C for some 1 hour and 15′. Then turn the oven off and keep your Pavlova cakes inside to slowly cool down for another 2-3 hours (oven doors can be slightly open)
  6. Once the meringue is cooled down, place a dollop well-whisked cold heavy cream on top of it and top with fresh fruits you love. My favorite are berries but kiwis, passion fruit, or mango are great options too

Dobrú chuť,
Lenka

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