Pavlova. Even the name is swoon-worthy. I’ve always been enchanted by these fluffy, melt in your mouth desserts, but just a little intimidated by them. They just seem so fancy, you know? And in my mind, fancy always equals difficult. Which is ridiculous, because these aren’t hard to make at all!
It was Nigella Lawson that changed my mind about the whole thing. You see, I don’t really like TV chefs. Most of them annoy me a bit, I just don’t enjoy watching them, but I recently found some of Nigella’s tv shows on youtube and wow. She’s downright charming. The woman makes everything look easy! I watched her gently, causally stir the cocoa powder into the egg white mixture and thought “I can do that!”
So I did! Mixing up the pavlova is a snap, especially if you have a stand mixer. Topped with homemade whipped cream and candied kumquats, this is unbelievably decadent. If you’ve never tried it before, give it a go!
adapted from the joy of baking and nigella lawson
I halved this recipe and it make 4 mini-pavs.
6 large (180 grams) egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) superfine (castor) sugar (note: i just ran some sugar through the food processor to make it super fine.)
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cornstarch (corn flour)
3 tablespoons (20 grams) Dutch processed cocoa powder
2 ounces (55 grams) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon (14 grams) granulated white sugar
Candied Kumquats - see recipe below
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (130 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat on medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks. Start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds stiff peaks. (Test to see if the sugar is fully dissolved by rubbing a little of the meringue between your thumb and index finger. The meringue should feel smooth, not gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers). Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the vinegar and vanilla extract. In a small strainer, sift the cocoa powder and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and, with the rubber spatula, fold in. Lastly, fold in the chopped chocolate.
Gently dollop the meringue onto the parchment paper smoothing the edges.
Place in oven, immediately turn oven down to 250 F. Bake for about 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours (or about 25 - 30 minutes for mini-pavlovas) or until the outside is dry. (The outside will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed. There will be cracks and you will see that the inside is soft and moist.) Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven.
The cooled meringue can be made and stored in a cool dry place, in an airtight container, for a few days.
Just before serving gently place the meringue on a serving plate. Whip the cream in your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, until soft peaks form. Sweeten with the sugar and then mound the softly whipped cream into the center of the meringue. Arrange the fruit on top of the cream. Serve immediately as this dessert does not hold and once you add the cream and fruit the meringue will start to break down.
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 package of kumquats, cut into slices
In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Add the kumquat slices and cook over moderate heat, turning them occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to a thin syrup and the slices are translucent, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer until the syrup is thick and the slices are tender but still intact, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer the slices to a rack to cool.