The first time I had this dessert was 11 years ago when I was working as a Demi-Chef in Quaglinos Restaurant, London. It gave me a strong impression on how desserts can be relatively simple and luxurious at the same time. With its sweet crispy meringue crust, a soft (not chewy) marshmallow centre, topped generously with chantilly cream, and abundance of seasonal fresh fruits. This has always been the perfect dessert for summer season, as the berries make the totality of Pavlova…simply refreshing!
Do not be intimidated by this dessert. Yes, it is very pretty in presentation, but it doesn’t mean making this dessert will give you a tragedy! The secret in achieving a perfect Pavlova is to follow the right techniques, and prepare equipments needed before starting with your mise en place. Organising and planning is always important in baking; help you focus and save a lot of your time.
Adding too much vanilla extract will result to light tan Pavlova. If you want your Pavlova to look white and pretty, omit the vanilla extract or just add a little. As you can see the photo from above, the texture is very stiff without over beating egg whites. The texture must be like that, stiff peak, white, and glossy.
Pavlova is always the perfect dessert for summer.The colors of the berries are irresistible and the flavors are refreshing! Traditional Pavlova are filled and topped with chantilly cream and fresh fruits. And since, I always love to challenge myself on how I can always impress my loved ones by surprising them with new recipes. Instead of the old and boring whipped cream, I made some strawberry buttercream and strawberry coulis to make this Pavlova heavenly and luxurious!
1. Prepare all the Equipments.
♦ Cake Mixer with Whisk Attatchment or Hand Beater.
♦ Mixing Bowls. Use either glass or metal only, this will help your egg whites achieve the maximum volume, and make sure they are clean and grease free.
♦ Parchment Paper and Baking Tray.
♦ Piping Bag, optional
2. Fat is the enemy of meringue. Egg yolk, grease or oil are the reasons why egg whites do not achievc a stable foam and prevent from reaching their maximum volume.
3. Eggs. Olds eggs are better in making meringues. When the egg ages, it gives you more relaxed proteins, and egg white thins, making the egg whites easier to beat and gives you maximum volume. Eggs should be at room temperature. When separating the egg yolk from egg white, make sure there are no yolk into the bowl at all. Meringue hates fat, it will prevent the egg whites from forming a stable foam.
4. Sugar. Use caster sugar when making meringues, as it dissolves easier than granulated white sugar. and helps meringue retain moisture. Caster sugar will give you more stable foam.
5. Stabilisers. Many recipes have different stabilisers that help egg whites to maintain their volume and achieve perfect texture of a marshmallow like inside and crisp meringue shell outside. Acid such as vinegar, lemon juice, and cream of tartar are good stabilisers.
Few amount of cornstarch is used as well to stabilise egg whites, and help meringue to be whiter.
6. Technique. There are recipes that has different techniques. With my experience in making meringues, I whip the egg whites to soft peak, and add sugar gradually. When you add all the sugar in the egg whites and whisk them together, you will not be able to create maximum volume as egg whites becomes heavy already. Very important to remember as well that meringues must be baked right away after you whipped them. If you have small oven, make meringues in small batches. If you leave the whipped egg whites too long without baking them right away, the volume will collapse.
7. Baking. Pavlova is usually baked at low temperature and must avoid from opening the oven door during baking time to prevent the meringue from collapsing. When you set your oven on high temperature, meringues will crack all over.
8. Storage. Pavlovas or meringues can be baked ahead of time, meaning you can do the final assembly before serving. Place them in an airtight container, arranging them in one layer, and store them at room temperature. Meringues can last for three days. Avoid making pavlovas or meringues on a humid day,
- 6 Egg Whites
- 1 1/2 cups Caster Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 2 teaspoons White Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Cream of Tartar
- 250 grams Fresh Strawberries, washed and stems removed
- 1/4 cup White Granulated Sugar
- 1/4 cup Water
- 2 teaspoons Lemon Juice, optional
- 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, diced
- 4 tablespoons Strawberry Coulis
- 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
- 1/4 cup Whipping Cream
- 1/2 cup Fresh Strawberries
- Preheat oven to 120 degree Celsius. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw three 6-inch circle on the parchment paper.
- In a large bowl of electric mixer, using the mixer attachment and on medium speed, whisk egg whites until stiff but not dry. Be careful in not overbeating the egg whites as it will lose volume and deflate when folded into other ingredients.
- Lower down the speed of the electric mixer. Gradually add in the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Whisk until thick and glossy.
- Gently fold in vanilla extract and cream of tartar. Stir in the white vinegar.
- Spoon mixture inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, or you can fill a piping bag with the mixture and pipe out the meringue into the parchment paper. Working from the center, spread mixture toward the outside edge, giving pavlova with a twirl towards the center, this will achieve a great shape.
- Bake for 2 hours. The pavlovas are done when outside is crisp, tap the meringue shell and if there is a hollow sound, it means the inside is still soft.
- Cool completely on a wire rack without removing from the paper. About 40-60 minutes.
- In a medium saucepan, combine strawberries, water sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Transfer to a blender and process until smooth. Strain through fine sieve, and set aside. Chill in the fridge until ready to use
- Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
- Turn off the mixer, and stir in the powdered sugar slowly until well combined; this will prevent powdered sugar from flying everywhere.
- Turn on the mixer again to lower speed, add the cream, strawberry coulis, and vanilla extract.
- Increase to medium speed and beat for 3 minutes until the buttercream is smooth.
- Remove the pavlova from the parchment paper. Assemble this on your serving plate.
- Start with first layer, slather with buttercream, and put the 2nd layer of pavlova on top. Pressing down lightly, avoiding not to crack the fragile pavlova. Put the third layer on top, place the strawberries on top and pour the strawberry coulis.
- When you have excess strawberry coulis, place them in an airtight container and keep in the freezer. The coulis can maintain high quality for 3-5 months at -18° C ( 0° F).