Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pavlova Magic

"In 1929, Herbert Sachse, the chef of the Hotel Esplanade in Perth, Western Australia, created the dessert Pavlova to celebrate the visit of Anna Pavlova to Australia. This dessert later became Australia's national dessert."

"This was made by a Chef to give to a famous Ballerina who visited Australia as he wanted something as light and dainty as her."

I'm not sure how much "light and dainty" there is about my Generous Gentleman, or whether he could be considered a "ballerina" (except perhaps when he is washing dishes for me!), but this is what I whipped up for him recently upon request.  We also had lots of freshly picked strawberries from Beerenberg Farm, Hahndorf, which needed to be used in as many ways we could think of.  We have eaten lots of fresh strawberries, lots on the top of pavlova and also lots as Strawbet, a favourite dessert of Ess's which we make with our Extraction Juicer using pure strawberries - yes strawberry sorbet with no sugar.  It is absolutely delicious and yet another "miracle" produced by my wonderful Generous Gentleman.

The Pavlova was magic!  I was very pleased.  Despite it being Australian and my husband's passion for them, they are not something I make often.  In fact this may be my first - or my second.  To be honest I simply can't remember the last time I made a pavlova. They can be temperamental.  You want them to have a crispy outer shell and nice marshmallow centre.  So to a recipe in his "Essential Dessert Cookbook" I went and proceeded to beat away as follows.

I placed 4 egg whites in a large, very clean and dry glass bowl with a pinch of salt.  I let them reach room temperature and then beat slowly till they were a frothy foam.  The speed was gradually increased until the bubbles in the foam became small and evenly sized.  1 cup sugar was added gradually and beaten until it dissolved.

Using a metal spoon 2 tsp cornflour and 1 teaspoon white vinegar were folded in to make the desired marshmallow centre.  The mixture was smoothed onto a baking tray lined with paper to 1" high.  The baking in a warm oven 160degC lasted an hour until it was pale cream and crisp on the outside.  Mmm.  

It rose while baking but sadly sank on cooling. I believe this is normal and evidence of the lovely meringue centre.  Can anyone correct me on this?

Nevertheless, the pav was devoured and deliciously enjoyed by my Generous Gentleman and little Eee. Curiously Ess was not so fond of it - we cannot work out why. Perhaps she does not like the flavour of the egg whites.  She and I don't fare too well with eggs and I could concur with her that it is not MY favourite dessert.  Still I really enjoyed the fruit and the crispy shell.

Yet we dedicated this to our Generous Gentleman in honour of his birthday - yes it is never too late to celebrate.  His was mid-winter while he was away and we never really did get to celebrate properly as the house returned to a state of new order on his return.  He loved it - over and over. I was very impressed when he offered some to our guest as well.  That's self-sacrifice for you.  The meringue will last for ages so I only prepared half at first.  I don't think he wanted it to last at all.

It looks somewhat Christmassy, perhaps I'll revisit it then.   But onto my Christmas cake next - possibly the world's best Christmas cake containing dark chocolate, apricot nectar and some sweet sherry.  Oh yes and some fruit as well :)

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