When I was planning my Australia Day menu, I chose dessert first 'cos who could go past mini passionfruit pavlovas? There is controversy over the origin of the pavlova with both the Kiwis and the Aussies claiming it as their own. Whether it was a Kiwi or an Australian chef who first came up with the idea of a cream and fruit topped meringue in honour of Anna Pavlova, it was a brilliant idea.
A pavlova should be crisp and crunchy on the outside with a fluffy marshmallow like centre. The key to a perfect pavlova is drying out the meringue in a very low oven. Now those of you who follow my blog, know I’ve had problems with my oven for the past year. If I turn the oven down low, the gas goes out and it’s put me off making meringues for more than a year. A few months ago the gas pipes to the building were renewed and the oven is definitely hotter than it used to be. Despite all that I was willing to give these mini pavlovas a try.
I did a test run last weekend. The oven kept going out but I found if I could keep the oven alight for 15 - 20 minutes then kept the meringues in the turned off oven for another hour or so, I could get a decent pavlova.
I made the pavlovas on Saturday night and let them sit in the turned off oven overnight. When I checked them on Sunday morning, they were covered in ants so I had to make a third batch.
Pavlovas are really sweet so they’re usually topped with unsweetened cream and something tart like passionfruit pulp, strawberries or kiwi fruit. As its passionfruit season here, I decided to go with the classic passionfruit topping. I read a Bill Granger recipe which suggested adding a teaspoon of passionfruit juice to the whipped cream, which I did. It’s a genius move as it adds a slightly sour note to the cream.
Here's the recipe for you. I do hope you try them.
Mini Passionfruit Pavlovas (makes 4)
2 egg whites
½ cup caster sugar
½ teaspoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons cornflour (corn starch)
¼ teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup cream, lightly whipped
Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F.
Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time until all the sugar has been added. The mixture should be very white, thick and glossy. Gently fold in the vanilla essence, vinegar and cornflour.
Spoon the meringue into 4 small rounds building up the sides so the meringue is about 2.5 cm/1 inch high. This is to make sure you get a nice marshmallow centre.
Lower the oven temperature to 120°C/250°F before placing the pavlovas in the oven. Bake for 1-1¼ hours or until the meringues are very lightly coloured and the tops are dry. Turn the oven off and leave the pavlovas in the turned off oven to cool.
When the pavlovas are cool, gently remove them from the tray and place on a cooling rack. The centres of the pavlovas will sink a little as they cool. Store the pavlovas in an airtight container until they’re needed.
About an hour before serving, sprinkle the pavlovas with icing sugar then top with whipped cream and the passionfruit pulp.
The cornflour and vinegar help achieve the marshmallowy centre but you can leave them out if you wish. If you want to make one 7 inch pavlova, just double the pavlova ingredients and keep the cooking time the same.
I'm heading to Brisbane for the Long Weekend so see you all again on Monday.