You may have noticed that I try to keep the focus of this blog on others – mainly the remarkable food producers and their products that we enjoy right here in South Australia – rather than my own specific adventures with food. However, when I heard about the Great Australian Pavlova Blog Hop I was immediately tempted. I’ve got quite a sweet tooth and love a good pavlova, but in a (largely unsuccessful) attempt to restrain my waist I only ever make them at Christmas time. It didn’t take the Greedy Girl in me too long to work out that this is the perfect excuse for an extra-curricular pavlova binge – so here we are!
Pavlova is a much loved dessert here in this end of the world, but also a much disputed one. For many years there has been a “discussion” between New Zealand and Australia over who invented the dish, with the last round of research coming down firmly on the side of New Zealand. Regardless of it’s origins, Pavlova is a fabulously sugary, creamy indulgence and one that is pretty difficult to muck up. Some prefer their pav’s crispy on the outside and very soft and marshmallowy on the inside, some like them slightly chewy on the inside (my hand is up for this one) and some prefer them quite dry. Any way they turn out, they are still exceptional and if the worst happens and it all falls apart you can mix it up with fresh berries and whipped cream, serve it in a pretty dish and call it Eton Mess – how versatile is that?
There are just a couple of rules to remember for this sweet treat to be well within your grasp. You will need a reliable oven. If yours is a little dodgy I’d suggest getting an oven thermometer to ensure you know just what the oven temperature actually is. One of the biggest enemies of a stiff, stable meringue foam is fat, so make sure that your bowl and beaters are very clean and very dry and be scrupulous when separating your eggs. It is best to separate the eggs one at a time into a small bowl, placing each white into the mixing bowl as you separate. This way if you accidently break the yolk you will have only spoiled one white – not the whole lot. And finally, cook it slow and low and let it cool in the oven – either for a couple of hours or all night, whichever suits.
My pav for this Blog Hop is a Black Forest Pavlova. Once again, I realise I’m being utterly predictable in my use of chocolate, but I am powerless in the face of its charms. It is cherry season now in Australia and here in the Adelaide Hills I’m surrounded by the very best of them. I’ve used Kirsch in the cherry syrup, but if you don’t have any a good vinicotto would give it some extra depth. I’ve also put the chocolate in or on everywhere. Just because I can.
- 4 egg whites
- 1 good pinch of cream of tartar
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 dessert spoon of vinicotto
- 1/4 cup good quality cocoa
- 500gms fresh cherries
- 1 cup water
- 50 mls Kirsch liqueur
- 500 mls cream
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 50 gms chocolate, grated finely
- Preheat oven to 150C. Mark out 23 cm circle on baking paper and place on baking tray.
- Place egg whites and cream of tartar in bowl of electric mixer. Beat on high just until soft peaks form.
- Add caster sugar, 1 tablespoon full at a time, beating in between additions until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is glossy, stiff peaks.
- Add cocoa and vinicotto, folding in with a spoon.
- Pile mixture onto circle in baking paper and smooth sides, making centre slightly lower than sides.
- Bake in oven for 40 -50 minutes, until firm and slightly cracked, but not browned.
- Turn oven off, crack oven door with a pot holder or wooden spoon and leave to cool for 1-3 hrs or overnight.
- Rinse cherries, place in pan with water and sugar.
- Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove cherries and set aside, add Kirsch (or vinicotto), bring back to boil and reduce until syrup thickens.
- Beat cream and caster sugar together until thickened, stir in 3/4 of grated chocolate.
- When Pavlova is cooled, pile whipped cream and chocolate in centre, top with cherries, drizzle with syrup and then sprinkle with grated chocolate.