Thursday, March 17, 2011

Berry Pavlova

I've been delinquent with my postings in the last four months due to my new diet.  It's called the "I'm too busy to eat let alone cook" diet.  Really, practicing law does wonders for your figure!  Unless you're going for toned... this diet calls for a strict adherence to a no-gym policy, and requires that you sit motionless in a chair for at least 14 hours per day.  You'll be as skinny and floppy as a cooked noodle!

Since I mainly subsist on squished granola bars dredged from the bottom or my purse, or cheese, this simple raspberry pavlova is the most complicated cooking endeavor I've managed in the last four months. 

As I've mentioned before, I'm usually not a huge fan of meringue.  Meringue gets a bad rap in my book as being "healthy" since it mostly consists of egg whites and it's low in fat and calories. *shudder* There is nothing worse than a low-fat dessert.  BUT this meringue is different.  I actually have no idea if this particular dessert is low in calories or fat. I would suspect not given the exorbitant quantity of sugar stuffed into the marshmallowy meringue and the tart raspberry topping, not to mention the thick blanket of heavy whipping cream that crowns the finished creation.  YUM!  As I said, this meringue is different.

 On the other hand, it was named after ballerina Anna Pavlova, presumably because the lightness of the dessert rivaled that of Ms. Pavlova on point (or maybe because ballerinas have to eat meringue instead of cheesecake so they don't get fat?)  Either way, this pavlova is so good that it feeds a lively rivalry between New Zealand and Australia over which country invented it first! (according to good old Wikipedia). 

It's delicious, it's light, and best of all,  it's as easy as pie (or pavlova...) to bake.  So whether you're on a real diet, or the "I'm too busy to eat let alone cook" diet, this is the perfect dessert (thank you to my sister who just pointed out that this sentence previously read, "I'm too busty to eat let alone cook."  Whoops!  If that's the case, you [literally] have bigger problems than I do).  I'm going to have a slice right after I finish my dinner of potato chips... I literally just ate potato chips for dinner.  Ooook I also had a chocolate peanut butter truffle and a glass of flat champagne.


5 large egg whites
1 1/4 t cornstarch
1 1/2 t champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
pinch of salt
1 1/4 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar

2 pkgs raspberries
2 pkgs blackberries
1T lemon juice
1 cup sugar + 2-3T extra for the whipped cream
1c heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Medium peaks
Whisk the egg whites on low until foamy, then add the cornstarch, vinegar, and salt and whisk at medium speed until medium peaks form.  Medium peaks = the tips of the whites flop over slightly when you pull the beaters out and look at them.  Gradually add the sugar while continuing to beat at high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form.  Stiff glossy peaks =  the whites are stiff and glossy when you lift the beaters out and look at them.  No brainer.  Whisk in the vanilla extract.

Use a rubber spatula to scoop the egg white mixture onto the parchment.  Shape it into a rough circle as you scoop, and use the spatula to create a shallow well surrounded by a 1-2 in. rim.  Like an egg-white pizza, sort-of...

Stiff glossy peaks
Pop the egg white pizza into the oven and bake for 2 hours - until the outside is firm to the touch and the bottom lifts easily off of the parchment.  The insides will still be fluffy and soft.  Turn off the oven, and let the meringue cool with the oven door ajar for 2 hours (the gradual cooling prevents the meringue from cracking).

While the meringue cools, make the berry topping.

Pour 1pgk raspberries, 1 pkg blackberries, 1c. sugar, and lemon juice into a large saute pan.  Crush the berries with a fork and bring to a full boil over medium-high heat.  Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the berry mixture gets syrupy and gooey. ~ 10 min.  Fold in the remaining 2pkgs berries and refrigerate until cold.

Egg-white pizza
Just before serving, make the freshly whipped cream.  Mmmmmmm.  I love freshly whipped cream!  Freshly whipped cream is to canned whipped cream as artisan cheese is to cheese whiz.  In other words, don't use canned whipped cream unless you want to make your dessert taste like you bought it, expired, from the bakery section of Safeway and then left it in the freezer until it got freezer burn, thawed it, re-froze it and thawed it again, let your cat lick it, and then served it.  After you scraped the mold off of it.  Seriously, don't use canned whipping cream.

Anyways, to make the whipped cream, beat the heavy whipping cream on high speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually whisk in 2-3 T granulated sugar until medium peaks form.  Don't overwhip or you might as well have bought canned whipped cream.  Overwhipped cream is way more disgusting... like old butter than you left out so that it melted, the cat licked it, and then it re-congealed into a lumpy blob.

Hopefully I didn't just ruin your appetite, because now it is time to assemble the pavlova!

Pour the chilled berry mixture onto the center of the meringue, and spread so it reaches the rim.  Top with the freshly whipped cream.  Serve with dark roast coffee.  Slice and eat.