Pavlova with Strawberry Coulis

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RECIPE: When I was growing up, the most special moments in the kitchen were when mum made a pavlova. It has always been my most favourite dessert. Mum had a little trick that I’ve never seen a recipe suggest – she’d cook the pavlova, then when serving she’d flip it upside down on the plate and dress the bottom of it with the cream and fruit. This way you’d get a crispy crust of meringue around the bottom and sides of the dessert, and a nice flat surface for the cream. There are numerous recipes to try with varying formulas for the amount of sugar per egg white. Generally they’re pretty close, and the recipe I used (below) worked really well.

COMPONENTS: I’ve never tried making coulis because I thought it would be harder. It was an additional bonus that I could use frozen fruit – how simple is that! It literally took a few minutes to throw the fruit and sugar into the pan and bring it to the boil, then strain it. It was done before I knew it. To be honest, preparing the pavlova was pretty easy too. As long as your implements are squeaky clean (fats will stop your egg whites from whipping), and you add the sugar slowly but not too slowly(!), pavlova is nothing more than beating egg whites, adding a few stabilisers (vinegar and cornflour) and then being careful about placing it on the baking sheet. Putting the furrows in the sides with the spatula is important as this strengthens the case and stops it collapsing once it cools. Some recipes say to cool it in the oven with the door ajar until it is cool, and others say to leave it in the closed oven for at least six hours or overnight. I ended up cooling it with the door ajar for about half an hour, then closed the door and left it in the oven for about three hours. The top dropped but the sides didn’t, so I ended up having the perfect platform for the cream.

ASSEMBLY: Very carefully slide a spatula (you might need two) under the pavlova to lift it off the foil and place it on the serving plate. Take care dressing the pavlova; it’s very delicate and can easily break apart while spreading the cream on top. I drizzled the coulis over the top of the cream and could have probably added more. Top with the fruit (I spread it evenly but you could try more decorative placements) and dust with the sugar.

IMPRESSION: This is definitely the best pavlova I’ve made. There’s nothing better than a pavlova with a crispy crust and a soft inside. The strawberry coulis was perfect and it looked so pretty with the berries. I’d be happy to take this to a party!

Recipes from Colin Cowie at Epicurious and Dixie Elliott at Taste

Strawberry Coulis – Colin Cowie
1 cup frozen unsweetened strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Transfer to a blender. Purée until smooth, strain, and set aside. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Pavlova
Egg whites from 6 (59g) eggs (about 200g)
270g caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
300ml thickened cream
2 tablespoons pure icing sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cherries, blueberries and 2 passionfruit
Icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 120 degrees Celcius. Line an oven tray with foil. Brush with melted butter and dust with cornflour, shaking off excess. Mark a 24cm-diameter circle on foil.

Use a stand mixer to whisk egg whites in a clean dry bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition, until meringue is thick and glossy and sugar dissolved. Rub a little meringue between fingers. If still “gritty” with sugar, continue to whisk until sugar dissolves. Add cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and whisk until just combined. Spoon meringue onto the foil, using the marked circle as a guide. Smooth sides and top of pavlova. Use a small spatula to forms little peaks around edge of pavlova. Bake in oven for 1 1/2 hours or until pavlova is dry to the touch. Turn off oven. Leave pavlova in oven with the door ajar to cool completely. When completely cold, transfer to serving plate or store in an airtight container until required.

Use an electric mixer to whisk the cream and icing sugar in a medium bowl until firm peaks form. Spoon cream onto the top of pavlova. Drizzle with strawberry coulis and top with cherries, blueberries and passionfruit. Dust with icing sugar.

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