I will go on record and say that this is a great recipe for pavlova. The best. It has a meringue with a delicate, crunchy crust and a soft marshmallow-like centre. The cream topping is a flavorful Chantilly cream that goes great with the fruit, especially the strawberries. The almonds? Well, they are buttered and then toasted. That gives them an incredible flavour. The dessert melted in our mouths. Literally. It was sweet, creamy, fruity, smooth, soft, heavenly. A great dessert for the Memorial day weekend!
I guess I will make it again sometime next year and enjoy another slice. Even though it's an angelic dessert and one I have always wanted to make, ouch, those calories...
some butter cut up in small pieces
It's important to cook the pavlova at a low temperature for a long time. This and beating the egg whites extraordinarily well insures success.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a pencil, draw an 8 inch diameter circle on the paper. Turn the paper over so that the pencil marking rests on the baking sheet side. The circle will still be visible.
- Add the granulated sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Beat it until the granules become superfine and somewhat powder-like: this is superfine or caster sugar. If you can buy it ready made, go ahead and get it, but this is an easy, convenient way to make your own. Caster sugar is best for meringues because its fine granules dissolve quickly.
- Preheat the oven to 225° F.
- Make sure that the bowl of your mixer is really clean and dry. Place the egg whites into it. They should be free of any presence of yolk.
- Begin beating on medium. When the egg whites start to get frothy and form soft peaks, turn the speed up to high and add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. After all the sugar has been added, continue to beat until the egg whites are very stiff and shiny. If you think the meringue is done, beat it some more. I took a short, refreshing nap while the egg whites were being beaten; try it!
- The meringue should be smooth, and the sugar should be fully dissolved, so that when you feel the meringue it should not be at all gritty but should be smooth and stiff, somewhat gluey, and it should look shiny.
- At this point add the vanilla and beat to mix.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer, add the lemon juice and fold well.
- Sift the cornstarch over the meringue and fold that in as well.
- Place the meringue on the prepared tray and smooth it into a round shape using the penciled circle as a guide. An offset spatula will help with this job.
- Form a small indentation in the middle for placing the cream into once the meringue finishes baking.
- Place the meringue in the oven and bake it for one and a half to two hours, until the top of the meringue feels dry and somewhat hard.
- Turn off the oven and let the pavlova shell stay in there until it has cooled.
- Take out the shell. It will probably have one or two cracks, and that's fine. The outside will feel firm, but looking through the cracks you will be able to see the marshmallow-like interior.
- The shell can be stored on its parchment in a cool dry place until ready to use. You can make the shell one day ahead of time.
- The best whipped cream is made with cold ingredients.
- Refrigerate the bowl and the whisk attachment of your mixer until they are very cold. Bring them out and place them back in the mixer.
- Add the cream, vanilla and Grand Marnier into the bowl.
- Beat on medium until frothy.
- Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time and beat on medium high until soft peaks form, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Do not overbeat. You will know when it is done. It will be nice and thick like whipped cream. If you continue beating, the mixture will start to get grainy, and you will start to develop butter. Or so I have been told. Anyway, this is absolutely delicious, and it will remain thick. Chantilly cream doesn't tend to get watery like regular whipped cream because it contains sugar.
The recipe for the merigue is adapted from "The Joy of Baking."