Friday, April 16, 2010
I've recently been put in a slight predicament - having three egg whites sitting in the fridge - after the hollandaise sauce episode. Cringing at the thought of wasting any edible parts of an egg, I toyed with the idea of making little meringues to be eaten with ice cream and chocolate fudge.
Pavlovas have long escaped my memory until Haza recently ordered it at one of our eating out sessions. Then I remembered how I was first introduced to this decadent dessert by Najah at Alexis almost six years ago. On more than a few occasions we were disappointed when the last piece had gone to other patrons. It is still the most popular item of the restaurant and people would phone in to book for collection if not dining in.
Considering the possibility of trying to make one, I searched my favorite cooking blog - Deb Perelman's Smitten Kitchen, with some hope of finding a recipe. I was in luck and the recipe is great because Deb tried out Ina Garten's original recipe, faced some setbacks and adapted countermeasures from other blogs. I had to break open another egg and throw away an orange, sunny yolk (I was literally sad in the process) but oh well, sometimes you can't have it all can you?
The mixed berries sauce was already made a few days ago to go with my pan-seared chicken, ice cream and morning toast. I adapted this from Martha Stewart's and it can be adjusted according to whatever berries you happen to have at hand. It can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for a week (if it lasts that long).
First attempt and all, I was a tad nervous and decided not to fool around with the meringue too much after spreading it out on the parchment, explaining the peaks and waves on the sides. My mother's oven is a standard counter top, which I suspect is a little small for a meringue this size, hence even at 100 to 110 degrees my meringue cracked and colored slightly. I would suggest starting with 110°C or make smaller mini ones in batches if you find yourself in the same situation.
I'm not a fan of whipped cream on anything so I served mine with cookies and cream Häagen-Dazs ice cream and extra strawberries. I'm pretty sure a little bit of chocolate fudge on top of the berries may add to the pleasure of the airy, marshmallowy insides of this (undecidedly disputed) Kiwi/Australian creation for a Russian ballerina.
Now there's still a quarter of that piece left a Tupperware after two days. I wonder if Anna Matveïevna Pavlova would agree that it's almost too precious to finish. Mine you that the crispiness of the shell does diminish slightly over storage so do employ the service of a truly airtight container. I want to make another one soon (like tomorrow!) but not before I can figure what to do with the yolks. Sigh!
Mixed Berries Pavlova
Meringue cake recipe from Deb Perelman's Smitten Kitchen, mixed berries sauce recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's
- 4 large (120 grams) egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup (200 grams) castor sugar
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
Preheat oven to 250°F (130°C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch (18 cm) circle on the paper. Pour the vanilla and vinegar into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar. Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
Gently spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges, making sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center. (You want a slight well in the center of the meringue to place the cream/ice cream and fruits.)
Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the outside is dry and takes on a very pale cream color. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven. (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.)
Mixed Berries Sauce
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 containers fresh blackberries
- 2 containers fresh raspberries
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, stir together sugar, lemon juice, and half the raspberries and blackberries. Bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until blueberries burst and release juices, about 3 minutes.
In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 tablespoon cold water. Stir into sauce. Simmer, stirring, about 1 minute more, until sauce thickens slightly. Remove pan from heat; stir in remaining berries. Transfer sauce to a serving bowl. Chill until cold, stir before serving.
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