It's officially summer, and even though the weather tells me something quite different, I would like to celebrate it with a little summer recipe. Pavlova is ridiculously easy, has endless possibilities for variations and tastes amazing. What's not to like? I have been experimenting a lot with meringue the past few months, and have decided on what I believe the perfect recipe is! It's not too sweet, it's perfectly soft and sticky and has a really wonderful vanilla flavour. I'm using lavender that I brought from Paris, raw liquorice powder and raspberries, but you can use any kind of topping that you prefer.
to make 8 big individual PAVLOVAS
For the meringues
4 large egg whites
120g white sugar
120g powder sugar
1 vanilla bean pod
Start by measuring all your ingredients and remove the vanilla from the pod. You'll need two separate bowls for the sugar and powder sugar because they have different functions and go into the mix at different times. I always use pasteurized egg whites for this, just because I usually don't have any use for the yolks.
Put the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl (plastic bowls are generally a bad idea for making meringue, so if you have something else you should use that), and slowly beat the egg whites until they get really foamy, before turning up the speed and whip them until they form stiff peaks. You should be able to hold the bowl upside down over your head without spilling anything when the egg whites are done.
Continue beating the egg whites while adding the white sugar, one teaspoon at a time, beating for at least 5 seconds between every addition. Make sure to be patient with this part, as getting the sugar perfectly incorporated into the egg whites will make or break your meringue. Add the vanilla with the last teaspoon of sugar. When all the sugar has dissolved, sift one third of the power sugar into the mixture and use a spatula to carefully fold it in. Repeat the procedure with the two other thirds, and you are done. Now you should have a perfectly smooth and shiny meringue.
Dress two baking trays in paper, and divide the meringue mixture into eight portions, four on each tray. Use a table spoon to make little craters in the middle of the meringue, so that the sides are a little higher than the center. This is where your filling will go later. I like to make the sides quite thick, so that you get fluffy, gooey, delicious meringue, but if you would like it to be a little more crispy you can make the sides narrower, and leave more room for whipped cream and berries. Bake the meringue in the oven at 100'C for about 90 minutes, maybe a little more. They are done when they quite easily let go of the baking tray when you lift them. They should stay white, as we are not really baking them, but rather just drying them. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before decorating them.
FOR THE DECORATIONS
A big handful of raspberries
Raw liquorice powder
2,5dl heavy cream
Start by rinsing the raspberries under cold running water, leave them to dry and whip the heavy cream into soft peaks. You want it to be really smooth and delicious, much softer than the way you prepare it for cakes or hot chocolate. When the raspberries are dry, divide the whipped cream on the meringue bases, decorate with raspberries and sprinkle with lavender and liquorice powder.
This is the kind of dessert that should be served right after plating it. The textures of the meringue will change if you leave it for too long, and you don't want that! You could also bring all the different ingredients to the dinner table and have people decorate their own little pavlova!
These days, i'm completely smitten with the afternoon light in my bedroom and do most of my recipe shoots there, which leaves me with a lot of weird bedroom scenes. Meringue on my bed, next to all the mess I made to clear the background for shooting. I quite like how it all looks in the middle of the chaos, and the contrast it creates for the pictures, that show no signs of the mess I made to make it look like what I want.