Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Pavlova for Your Sweetheart
Our two daughters have been chosen to serve as Student Ambassadors in the People to People Program, which sends kids overseas to represent America in a positive light and interact with other students and adults during the summer months. Our oldest daughter is going to check out various parts of Europe, while the youngest is going to visit eastern Australia and New Zealand. Part of the preparation for the Student Ambassador program is to learn about the culture, government and history of your destination, so as chief cook in our household I researched some Aussie and Kiwi foodstuffs and found a naturally gluten-free dessert which produced an appropriately Pavlovian response (we all drooled), the Pavlova.
According to Wikipedia, this luscious dessert is alternately claimed to have been created by chefs in both countries down under in honor of the 1920s visits by renowned ballerina, Anna Pavlova. It consists of a meringue shell topped with whipped cream and fruit. It is traditionally eaten on Christmas, but with a red fruit topping, I think it would also be a perfect Valentine's Day treat.
Pavlovas can be covered with sliced kiwis, pomegranate seeds, berries of all kinds, and even candies, but I made a Pavlova with our family fruit favorite, strawberries. This is a rich and delicate dessert best eaten immediately after making, as the meringue outer shell only stays crispy for a little while before absorbing the moisture from the cream and fruit. There was a lot of washing up to do after making this, but the results were well worth it.
Look for some more Australian and New Zealand recipes in the future as we all prepare for this traveling opportunity. The kids are also doing some fundraising for all the expenses of these trips, and we are helping them with a special sale at our Internet book site, Old Saratoga Books. We have lots of cookbooks, history titles and books in 82 different categories listed there and if you are interested in any, you can enter the coupon code PTP to get 25% off any book order.
Onto the deliciousness of the Pavlova:
I turned to the Joy of Baking website for the basic recipe. Everything turned out well, except that I found that the meringue base stuck to the parchment paper quite effectively after baking and cooling. I had to juggle two spatulas to transfer it onto a platter for cream and fruit assemblage and it ended up in several pieces. I wonder if you should grease the parchment paper or just cut a circle out of it and serve the Pavlova with the paper stuck to it for diners to remove? In any event, the breakage was not noticeable once I slathered it with whipped cream and fruit, but if anyone has any Pavlova experience, please let me know.
The Joy of Baking recipe calls for sliced fresh fruit, but I used most of a 16 oz. container of thawed sliced, sweetened strawberries, and this worked beautifully.
G'day and Happy Baking!