This timeless, perhaps old - fashioned Australian/ New Zealand dessert is an absolute favourite of mine. I like the crunch of the meringue, combined with the freshness of the fruits, and the creaminess of whatever one uses for the centre. It actually named after Anna Pavlova, the magnificent Russian ballet dance. She visited Australia twice in the 1920' s and 30's and her rendition of the dying swan in the the ballet Swan Lake was considered to be of such a tenderness and fragile quality , that a dessert was concocted in her name.
The failsafe recipe I've used forever is the one from Delia Smith's Complete Illustrated Cookery Course. It's simple, easy, do it the night before and your meringue will be crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside and ready to be perfected with whatever you feel like that day. Whip up mascarpone, Greek yoghurt, vanilla sugar, icing sugar or home-made ice cream, or just plain whipped cream. Adding fruits such as berries, or pineapples and mangoes ( more tropical) or just one type of fruit, what's important is the acidity of the fruit need to counteract the sweetness of the meringue. I've tried it with chocolate mousse and strawberries , and although very sweet, it's richly decadent. You can also make them as individual nests and fill them with the same toppings.
- 3 large eggs
- 175g fine sugar
Pre-heat oven to 150 C
Lightly oil a baking sheet, lined with wax paper, which peels off easily.
Place egg whites in a large clean bowl and have the sugar ready. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, don't over-beat, and start to slowly add the sugar. A tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar is in.
Now take a metal tablespoon and spoon the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet forming a circle about 20cm in diameter . Then spoon blobs of meringue around the edge of the circle. With the tip of a skewer, make swirls in the meringue whilst lifting up the skewer so that little peaks are formed.
Place baking sheet in the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 140 C and leave to cook for 1 hour. Once time is up , turn off the heat but leave the pavlova in the oven until its completely cold.
To serve, remove from paper, and place on a serving dish. Just before serving, add your ice-cream, whipped cream, mousse, mascarpone and Greek yoghurt. Arrange whatever fruits on top, dust with icing sugar and serve. Enjoy!