Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Heavenly Birthday Treat: Pavlova

Sarah at "Behold Your Mother" is gathering posts related to Mary's birthday for the "Mary Moments Carnival" Sept 15 ... for more information, click here. Hurry ... all Carnival posts are due September 10!

Years ago I went to school with a group of “Kiwis” from Christchurch, New Zealand. One of them, Roger, was a professionally trained pastry chef; Roger and his wife Sylvia taught me of the joys of Pavlova. This light-as-air dessert, made of whipped egg whites and cream (some add custard as well), got its name in the 1920s from Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. For more information about the history of this dish, click here.

Two “secret ingredients” whipped into the egg whites and sugar of this classic dessert give it its marshmallow-y texture. The first is cornstarch – soft, powdery most often used in the kitchen to thicken and bind. The second is vinegar.

Cornstarch and vinegar make me think of the Blessed Mother. The soft, binding power of cornstarch makes things stick together … invisibly. And the vinegar reminds me of all the ways she endured great suffering during her lifetime, all for love of her Son, Jesus.

So … in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s birthday (September 8), why not whip up one of these cloud-like confections? This dessert is traditionally topped with fresh fruit, so pick a few raspberries. Not only is this berry now in season, but the raspberry is also related to the rose, Mary’s flower! (A mix with other berries will also make this a treat for the eyes as well as the palate).

To make your Pavlova, you will need …

4 large eggs, chilled
1-1/4 sugar (preferably fine castor sugar)
4 tsp cornstarch
4 Tbs boiling water
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 tsp vinegar
1 pint heavy whipping cream, chilled
2 Tbs sugar
4 C fresh fruit (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, etc.)

Separate eggs; set aside yolks for another purpose. Allow the egg whites to come to room temperature (30 minutes or so). Meanwhile, form a 9-10” ring from waxed paper fastened with a paper clip. Put a 12” circle of waxed paper on a lightly greased cookie sheet, place the ring on top. (You could also use a spring form pan lined with parchment.) Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Beat the egg whites, gradually adding sugar, cornstarch, water, salt, vanilla, and vinegar. Beat at least TEN MINUTES, until VERY stiff (this is the secret to a high, light dessert). Pour beaten whites into the wax paper mold, mounding high and smoothing top slightly.

Bake at 250 degrees 90 minutes, then turn off oven and leave door slightly ajar. Leave in oven overnight. The next morning, remove waxed paper and place pavlova on dessert plate. Beat cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Chill. Just before serving, decorate the pavlova with cream and fruit.

To serve, use two forks (inserted back-to-back) pulling in opposite directions to separate the pieces into serving sized portions. Enjoy with a good cup of tea!

1 comment:

MightyMom said...

sounds divine!

thanks for the recipie and thoughts!