Help me lova my pavlova
March 31, 2015 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Help me make the very best, most marshmallow-y on the inside pavola ever!

I made a chocolate pavlova (minus the fruit) a couple weekends ago and it was absolutely epic. I generally dislike meringue (like what you find on top of lemon pie) but this was different. Rich and dense and almost fudgey was my pavlova. Like a weird chocolate fudge marshmallow. Amazing. It was my first time making it, and my husband's first time ever eating anything like it, and it was an absolute hit.

I was thinking of making it for the dessert at our easter dinner since it really was that amazing, but my husband wants me to try a non-chocolate fruity blueberry topped one instead. I then did a mini "test run" and tried to make little vanilla meringue cookies but holy hell they were awful. They were eggy and nasty and tasted terrible. Just gross. Full on gross. No idea what I effed up to make them so gross, too. So now I am scared that a vanilla non-chocolate pavlova is going to end up like those nasty ass "cookies" I made. This is making me worried that the addition of the cocoa and chocolate is what gave the pavlova the texture I enjoyed so much.

So what can I do to maximize the awesomeness of my pavlova? Any suggestions? How do I keep the inside of the pavlova as marshmallow-y and non-eggy as possible?

Seriously, I'm looking to wow the in-laws here, so any tips for maximum pavlova awesomeness would be appreciated.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Nigella Lawson is the queen of the pavlova, this one in particular is beyond delicious.
posted by humph at 11:49 AM on March 31, 2015 [6 favorites]

Make sure you area cooking low & slow, lower & slower is better, then leave them in the oven to set up until the oven is perfectly cool, this will cook out the egginess. Make sure to add a little salt to help with the eggy flavour. Also I add a little white vinegar usually add 2 teaspoons. I don't use cornstarch I don't think it's needed, you may like to try using or not using it as the case may be to see what works for you.

Make sure you use enough vanilla, & it's the good stuff extract not essence, it will make your pavs slightly tan coloured not pearly white, but the flavour difference is noticeable as there are so few other ingredients to hide behind.

I will also let you in on my sacrilegious little secret, that will make pav experts cry, I don't use caster sugar, I use normal grain sized white sugar, while it may lead to tiny little spots of brown sugar/caramel in your pristine white pav, I find it gives it a chewy texture.

Having said all that, in my experience, pavlovas are really effected by humidity, and it can be something as subtle as the humidity on the day you made them that effected the texture. Well at least that's my excuse as to why some days I just can't get them to work.
posted by wwax at 12:12 PM on March 31, 2015

You may have just made them too small and the crunchy surface area overwhelmed the inner marshmallowy goodness. They also may have just been in the oven for too long. I make kickass pavlovas, but if I leave them in the oven for too long they get very chalky very fast. Err on the side of undercooking.

As for maximizing awesomeness: true to their NZ roots, pavlovas really do taste best with kiwifruit.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 1:08 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

I unfortunately think you're right, and that the cocoa and chocolate is what made the fudgy texture you liked so much. I find chocolate pavlova and vanilla to be very different (pretty much like brownies and blondies. cocoa definitely has a texture.)

if you don't like the eggy flavour, it's sacrilege, but they make meringue powder that doesn't have so much of that eggy flavour that you could use. commercial meringues are made using it, so if you like how those taste, it will be like that but not as dry. I personally think it's pretty gross, but I also think that eggs are the most delicious thing in the universe.

But honestly, if you don't like meringue, you're not going to like a regular pavlova probably. sorry! you can see if you can find any recipes that have more additions into the actual meringue part of the pavlova, but I'd just make the chocolate one for easter :D
posted by euphoria066 at 1:10 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm a New Zealander and have been making pavlova basically forever - so am pretty much as expert as it gets. So I will tell you what to do. Ignore any blasphemous alternatives as has already been given, that way lies tears.

You need the old-school Edmonds cook book recipe - this will make sense to any kiwis following along. Not the most recent one, they changed the recipe for some reason and it sucks now. It is the cornflour/vinegar combination that makes this become a pavlova rather than just a basic meringue, so follow the recipe. 1 teaspoon is 5 mL, 1 tablespoon is 15 mL, 1 cup is 250 g.

Edmonds Cookery Book, 1992 edition, page 179

4 egg whites (the exact size of the eggs isn't crucial but probably medium, and no yolk at all)
1 1/4 cups castor sugar (yes, really, don't substitute other sugar, wtf)
1 teaspoon white vinegar (don't use malted or cider or whatever, just plain)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (definitely use the good stuff here)
1 tablespoon cornflour

Preheat oven to 180degC/350degF.

Beat eggwhites and sugar for ten minutes, until white and glossy. This is crucial, you really need to beat this long so set a timer and read a book or something. Under-beating at this stage is a common cause of failure.

Mix the vinegar, vanilla, and cornflour together - it's thixotropic so just stir hard until it's runny. Add to the meringue and beat on high speed for a further 5 minutes. You'll see the texture change near the end, and again beating for the full amount of time is what's most important here. You'll learn how the texture should be and can stop a bit sooner or later in future depending on how it goes, but five minutes is good enough.

Pile up onto baking paper, mine are never as high as I would like but whatever. Put in the oven and turn it down immediately to 100 degC/212 degF. Bake for one hour, then turn off the oven and leave everything in there, door shut, until it's cold (takes a few hours). I've even left it overnight once.

Then move to your serving plate, cover with cream and fruit and serve. You can keep it in the fridge for a day or so once the cream is on.

Once I started using the full amount of time for each beating my pavlovas became wonderful. Once I stopped messing around with the vinegar/cornflour part I stopped getting weird bitter chewy things or dry nasty meringues. I have used this recipe to make mini pavlovas by just baking it in heaping spoonfuls. You get more crust and less soft middle which can be a nice change. I often scale it to use different amounts of egg whites, going from as small as three up to about eight when I was feeding lots of people. The ratio of crust:interior changes with size but it always works and always tastes good. Sometimes it weeps a little through the cracks once it's cooked, that's fine and the cream will cover it.

This is all you need to know.
posted by shelleycat at 1:17 PM on March 31, 2015 [50 favorites]

tried to make little vanilla meringue cookies but holy hell they were awful.

Oh by the way, I once tried to make vanilla meringue cookie things and they were also awful. Sounded pretty similar to your description actually. But they also aren't pavlova, which really is a different thing to meringue thanks to chemistry (no vinegar/cornflour = no pavlova), so don't let it put you off. My pavlova is still marshmallowy and crunchy and yummy without being too eggy and I've never used cocoa in it, so I think you're still good.
posted by shelleycat at 1:24 PM on March 31, 2015

shelleycat - that looks very interesting. Do you know if cornflour is the same as corn meal? Is cornflour the same consistency as regular white wheat flour? Is it possible that cornflour is like American corn starch?
posted by amtho at 1:25 PM on March 31, 2015

I think it's corn starch. It's not corn meal and much finer than normal white flour. The other place I would use it is thickening casseroles. (Edit: google agrees with me and it makes sense the more I think about it)
posted by shelleycat at 1:26 PM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yes, cornstarch. I'm no Kiwi but this is how I make my pavs, too.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:39 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you are whipping egg whites regularly, a copper bowl though not a cheap option, is worth considering. Copper makes the egg whites more stable (less likely to denature) and they can be whipped to a greater volume.
posted by Lanark at 1:49 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

The recipe below is what my mum has made for every family event for years. Wikipedia might be able to help you compare the egg size to what you can find in your supermarket. This recipe is probably from a Woman's Weekly Cookbook.

4 egg whites - I use size 7 eggs (large)
7 oz sugari
1 teaspoon malt vinegar
1 dessert spoon cornflour

Oven 160 degrees Celsius
Line a baking tray with tinfoil
Beat eggs whites until stiff.
Combine sugar and cornflour and add slowly still beating until sugar is dissolved and mixture is glossy.
Add vinegar still beating.
Pour mixture into baking tray and shape.
Cook 1 hour turn oven off and leave oven door closed until cold

From Mum: Because I have a large mixer I one and a half times the recipe and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

I have attempted to make these into mini pavs and it worked but they were still big.
posted by poxandplague at 2:26 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

This isn't really what you're asking but was a LIFE CHANGING discovery for my family - when you are topping your pav, use 2/3 cream and 1/3 greek yoghurt and whip it together. Not only is it super delicious but you can eat way more without having to lie on the couch recovering from sugar OD afterwards.
posted by Wantok at 5:40 PM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]

And there's the Classic Pavlova from CSR (yeah, yeah, Big Sugar...). They've got a bunch of pav recipes on there, but this one works well and isn't too big.

3 eggs
250g CSR Caster Sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon vinegar

Beat the egg white and salt together until they are quite stiff. Beat in sugar slowly, a teaspoon at a time. Add the vinegar and the vanilla essence. Place the mixture on greased paper on greased oven tray and bake it very slowly for 1-1/2 hour at 120 degrees centigrade.
When it is cold, pile your pavlova with whipped cream and any fruit.

Quick note: I've found that instead of using baking paper, wet the plate with water – not too much, don't want a swimming pool – and then heap the mixture on the plate. Ideally you want a super official pavlova plate to do this all on, but it's not entirely necessary.
posted by antipodes at 10:42 PM on March 31, 2015

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