Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Pavlova – Cracking Up Down Under!

This crispy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside, baked meringue is named after Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova, who must have done one mean "fouetté en tournant." Some people think they can dance; some people know they can dance; and some people get desserts named after them in New Zealand.

Why she inspired what is basically a large, crispy marshmallow isn’t completely understood. By the way, Australia also claims to have invented the Pavlova, and this controversy is the main reason people from New Zealand and Australia hate each other. Update: I've been informed that New Zealand and Australia do NOT hate each other, but enjoy more of a proud rivalry.

This is an odd dessert, but one that’s a lot fun to make and eat. It's also fat-free…that is, until you pile on the whipped cream, but at least it starts off fat-free. Fresh fruit, especially berries and kiwi are standard fare, and it’s the tartness of the acidic fruit that balances the sweet, gooey crunch.

As you’ll see in the clip, I indulged in a little bit of culinary exhibitionism, and tried a new presentation based on the old, “if you can’t beat’em, join’em,” school of thought. Instead of worrying about a few cracks around the edge, I decided to go full-shatter, and the results are here for all to see.

I kind of liked it, but I’ll let you be the judge. Is it visually arresting? Cool? Annoying? Or, like my friend Tamar from Starving Off the Land implied, does it cause you to think about how badly your driveway needs repair?

Looks aside, strawberries are piled sweet and high at the markets right about now, and this would make a lovely dessert for the holiday. Anyway, I hope you give this a spin…or as I should say in honor of Ms. Pavlova…a fouette! Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4-6 Portions:
3 large egg whites, room temp is best (I think I said 4 in the video, but 3 is what I actually used!)
*Note: do not get ANY egg yolk in the whites, or this will not work.
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsps cornstarch
3/4 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
whipped cream and fresh berries as needed

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