NZ Forest Native Birds

Easy Pavlova

Pavlova is a traditional Christmas dessert in New Zealand, where it’s often too hot in December for Christmas pudding. However, I don’t like the ones sold in the supermarkets; their texture is too much like sweetened and flavoured shaving foam. Besides, they are far too expensive. We like a pavlova with a nice crisp crust and a marshmallowy centre. Don’t be fooled by the fact this recipe uses only two egg whites, while most other recipes on the Internet specify 3 or 4; it serves at least six people. It is also much easier than most other so-called “easy” recipes, which almost invariably specify that the egg whites should be beaten to a certain stage before the sugar is added bit by bit—a rigmarole which I assure you isn’t necessary. Also, while your mixer is beating this one you can be doing other things.

2 egg white
1½cups of sugar
½ tsp pure (not imitation) Vanilla essence
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp cornflour (maize starch)
4 TB boiling water

The original recipe said to use caster sugar, but ordinary granulated sugar works just as well and caster sugar is way too expensive. Also, this isn’t an old recipe so I use a metric (250 ml) cup.

Preheat the oven to 150º C (300º F). No fan. Beat all ingredients together on high speed until mixture is very stiff (approx. 15 minutes). I switch my ancient Kenwood Chef (approaching 40 years of age and horrendously noisy) onto its highest speed and walk out of the kitchen. Brush oven tray lightly with melted butter, dust with sifted cornflour and shake off excess. Pile the mixture onto prepared tray. Shape as desired. Bake in centre of oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 100º C (about 200º F). Bake a further 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the pavlova to cool in the oven.

Note: It is essential to have a dry bowl and beaters for a good result. Also ensure no yolk gets into the whites when separating the eggs.

Just before serving (too soon will soften the crust, thus spoiling the texture) top with whipped cream and whatever fruit you prefer. Strawberries are traditional and kiwifruit is also popular, but I personally prefer unsweetened passionfruit pulp because the pavlova itself is intensely sweet. Unfortunately, passionfruit is horrendously expensive (although we grew it with amazing ease in Auckland) and is also out of season at Christmas. For goodness’ sake don’t spoil the whipped cream by sweetening and flavouring it. Good cream doesn’t need any flavouring or sweetening. Besides, unadulterated cream helps tone down the pavlova’s sickliness.

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