Monday, September 13, 2010

Pavlovas and Fresh Fruit

FOOD 131
The secret to perfect Pavlovas?  I have no idea. It's beaten egg whites. How hard could they be? I have made some that could have been handed out as weapons at a self-defense class. Others that looked like little baby piles of white.....stuff.....Then there is the day each meringue looks like a white cloud. Delicate, airy and crisp. Then melt in your mouth followed by that lingering sweetness that makes them so loved. Add some fresh fruit and homemade whipped cream. Beautiful.
Hope you try and enjoy.
4 large egg whites at room temperature (note: i find eggs are easier to separate when cold. I usually do this early and leave the egg whites in the bowl of the electric mixer - covered - for an hour or so - until they come to room temperature)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
oven to 200 (and you can do both sheets at the time in the oven)  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Beat egg whites at medium speed until frothy - about a minute. Add cream of tartar and increase the speed to medium high. Beat until egg whites are thick and look like shaving cream. Should take about another 2-3 minutes. Slowly sprinkle in 1/2 cup of sugar and the vanilla. Beat just until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the last 1/2 cup of sugar.
note:  the times listed to beat the egg whites are going to vary a great deal...depending on the temperature of the whites, the temperature of your kitchen, etc.....just keep an eye on them and watch for the descriptions given (good luck....this is where I usually botch the entire thing)
Place 6 heaping spoonfuls on each baking sheet. Then use the back of the spoon to shape out a little well on the top of each meringue pile (For these ones the sides of the meringues were almost an inch high...but you can make them thinner and flatter and take a few minutes off the baking time - I also like them all a bit imperfect but you can smooth them out and perfect this to your liking) Bake for 1 1/2 hours - meringues should look dry and firm and shiny. Then turn the oven off and leave them in there for another couple hours to slowly cool (yes - this part of the process takes forever)  Once cool you can store these in an airtight container for several days and just use whenever you need.

FOOD 143

Whatever fruit you have will be great. I picked up fresh peaches and strawberries at the farmers market the day prior so that is what I used. I think the ratio of fruit to sugar is about 1 cup fruit=1 teaspoon sugar. But this is up to you. You might like it sweeter, or no sugar at all.  After cutting up the fruit, gently mix in the sugar (or not) then let the bowl sit for a bit until there is some juice in the bottom.
I prefer the homemade because it is not as sweet. But of course the family LOVES Cool Whip. Use whichever is handy. For the homemade - 1 cup very cold Heavy Whipping Cream + 1 tablespoon sugar (taste it at this point - you might want to add a little more sugar) Whip until thick and shiny and firm peaks. Keep chilled until ready to use.
note:  I usually use regular granulated sugar. I have heard many only use powdered sugar. Use whichever you prefer.
Place meringue shell on a small plate. Cover the top with whipped cream and make a little dent for the fruit. Add fruit and serve.

FOOD 141

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