There are three things I learned this Memorial Day Weekend.
The first: Pavlova is my new favorite food, and I want to eat it every day for the rest of my life.
The second: Some crazy stuff is happening in Dowton Abbey Season 3 (Yes, I know I’m behind), but I won’t ruin it for you if you haven’t seen it. By the way, if you haven’t seen it, you need to.
The third: Squidgy. I learned what the word squidgy means. And, yes, it’s a real word. More on that in a second.
Have you ever had pavlova? Have you heard of it? I didn’t know it existed until I saw it popping up all over Pinterest.
I was simply curious so I asked Juliann about it, and she immediately got excited and said, “I love pavlova!! I have a recipe.”
After hearing her rave about this fluffy dessert and learning that it was a simple layering of meringue, whipped cream, and fruit, I was anxious to try it.
It turned out to be so easy and beautiful!
Also, after a brief search through Wikipedia, I learned a couple of things about the dessert. Despite the name, it didn’t originate in Russia. The exact story of its beginnings is unclear, but both New Zealand and Australia claim to be the country that created the first pavlova, and it was very likely named after the famous Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. It’s thought that the fluffy disk of meringue could resemble her skirt.
I hope that’s the true version of the story, because it’s romantic and girly, just like pavlova.
This dessert is so elegant looking and easy to put together. It’s such a great way to display summer berries too.
Chocolate is not traditional, but I won’t tell Anna if you won’t.
The first thing we did was trace a 9 inch spring form pan onto parchment paper in pencil. This will gave us a guide when we formed the meringue.
It’s important to put the parchment paper in the pan lead side down. Otherwise, it will get on your pavlova, and nobody wants to eat pencil lead.
Next we beat the egg whites until they were satiny with soft peaks.
Then we added a tablespoon of sugar at a time until the peaks were stiff and shiny. If they don’t get stiff, the pavlova will spread out too much when it bakes.
Ok, now here’s where the word squidgy comes in. The texture of this meringue is different from most other desserts involving the delicious sugary fluff. A well cooked pavlova will have an outside that is very crunchy and an inside that is squidgy!
Squidgy is a British term, and Oxford Dictionary defines it: soft, spongy, and moist.
So now you know. Squidgy. I love this word.
Basically, the outside is crunchy and the inside will give, much like a cream filling. It’s delicious, and I hope that someone eats it before I wake up because I might not be able to resist having it for breakfast. Don’t judge. You’ll want to replace all your meals with pavlova too!
One strange ingredient that helps our pavlova get squidgy is balsamic vinegar. When the acid in vinegar is combined with the protein in egg whites, it causes a reaction that forms tighter bonds between the molecules. This reaction helps the meringue to set, and it will be firmer than it would be if you just baked it without adding the vinegar.
Since it goes in the oven at a lower temperature, the meringue is unable to fully harden (don’t worry it is still hot enough to kill any potentially dangerous bacteria in the egg whites). So, it would be at risk for collapse without the vinegar causing those tightened bonds in the filling. The reaction makes it firm enough to stand up on it’s own, but not so firm that it’s as hard and crunchy as a meringue cookie.
Vinegar makes it squidgy.
We added the chocolate, cocoa powder and balsamic vinegar
Swirling the chocolate and the stiff meringue just makes me happy.
Fold this. Don’s stir! It’s important that you gently gently fold the chocolate and vinegar into the egg whites. Stirring too vigorously would cause the air to escape and the meringue to deflate. Sad day.
Next came the fun part when we got to form the pavlova on the circle. We just stayed in the lines; it’s like coloring, but with a fluffy chocolate cloud.
This is how pretty it was when we got it out of the oven.
I think it could pass as a ballerina skirt. Even if it can’t, it still passes as the tastiest and squidgiest pavlova ever. Squidgiest is not a word.
For better presentation, it’s a good idea to turn it upside down onto the cake stand because the bottom will be flatter and smoother. Plus then you can see the cool design that the melting chocolate made with the meringue in the oven.
All we did after that step was layer it with whipped cream, raspberries, and more chocolate…
Please make this before summer berries go out of season. Then invite me over to help you eat it!
This recipe was adapted from The Food Network Magazine
- FOR THE MERINGUE:
- 6 egg whites (room temperature is best)
- 2 cups superfine sugar
- 3 tbl unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- 1 tsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
- 2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
- FOR THE TOPPINGS:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 cups raspberries (or berries of your choice)
- 1 to 2 ounces dark chocolate
- FOR THE MERINGUE:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper and trace a 9 inch circle onto the paper. The easiest way is to trace a pie dish or cake pan that is that size.
- Be sure that you flip the paper so that the lead circle is facing down and not able to touch the meringue.
- In a stand-up mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until satiny peaks form.
- Beat in one tablespoon of sugar at a time until it is all combined and the peaks are stiff and shiny.
- Add cocoa powder, chocolate, and vinegar and gently fold the mixture until just barely combined.
- Carefully pour the meringue into the circle and form the base, smoothing the sides and top with a spatula.
- Place in the oven and lower the temperature to 300 degrees.
- Cook 60 to 75 minutes.
- When it's done the outside will be crispy, but the inside will give when pressed. If it's not done, it will give too much and be more soupy than squidgy.
- Once it's done, don't take it out of the oven. Turn the oven off, but prop the door open a little and let it cool in there for an hour as the oven cools down.
- Invert the meringue onto whatever plate or cake stand you want to serve it on and peel off the parchment paper.
- FOR THE TOPPINGS:
- Whip cream in stand mixer using the whisk attachment on medium high speed until stiff peaks form. Spread onto meringue.
- Sprinkle raspberries on top of Cream.
- Take a sheet of plastic wrap and fold the chocolate into it. Rub it vigorously between both of your hands for at least 30 seconds. The warmth of your hands will soften the chocolate and make it easier to shave. Use a potato peeler to shave off nice thick curls of chocolate.
- This recipe is best eaten within 24 hours.