| mini pavlovas

October 5, 2009

When I was home in QLD last year, staying at my Dad’s, the old man who lives next door brought us over half a Pavlova and a cup of whipped cream. This old guy does all the cooking, his wife has dementia and he cares for her in a way that I hope someone will care for me when I’m old and unable to make my own Pavlovas anymore. She sits in the backyard with the mango and citrus trees, and the neatly mown lawn and stares into her hands. He cooks and bakes and as the sun goes down, leads her into the house by the hand. Sarah you promise to make me Pavlova forever? I love that he still made a whole Pavlova even though they couldn’t possibly eat it all. I love that he brought half over to my Dad and I, undressed (if you can say that about a cake – it was definitely white and naked) so that it wouldn’t go soggy if we didn’t want to eat it right away.

There are so many myths about making Pavlova, and the only purpose they serve, we think, is in terrifying people into never attempting what is really very easy, especially if you make it the way Sarah does. And especially if you have a pretty 1950s Kenwood Mixmaster like we do. Of course it doesn’t have to be pretty or from the 1950s – we call him Kenny – but it certainly helps get you in the vibe to make something so kitsch as a Pavlova. Putting on an apron might help as well. But it is best if you have some sort of Mixmaster because then you can leave it be as it whisks the egg whites, which takes a little while.

Most people worry about their Pavlova falling – this is where the myths come in, a friend told me that their mum always taped the oven shut to stop them opening the door as kids, the Pavlova must cool with the oven! But with this recipe there is really no fear of them falling, because they’re small – and even if they fall you can cover the fall with cream and fruit. If they’re malformed or wonky they’re small enough to look like they’re meant to be like that. They’re not too small though, they’ll still have that contrast in textures, the crunchy exterior and the chewy interior. And something that is made to seem so difficult is only sugar and eggs – the essence of simplicity. Dressed with cream and whatever fruit is in season, passionfruit or kiwi to be Aussie kitsch, this recipe can be made with spontaneity.

So even if it’s not Summer, Pavlovas remind me of BBQs and humid QLD afternoons and an elderly couple holding hands as the sun sets.

Mini Pavlovas (recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess)

half a lemon or a leftover lemon wedge
8 large free-range egg whites
pinch of salt
500g castor sugar
4 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 cups thick pure cream
fruit of your choice for topping

Preheat the oven at 180C.
Choose a heavy bowl, preferably not plastic, ceramic and metal are best. Run the lemon lightly around the bowl. I’m not sure what this does, I think it has something to do with the even-ness of the whisking, but it works for me nevertheless! You don’t want juice in the bowl here, just a hint of lemon, like on the edge of a Margarita glass!
Whisk the egg whites with the salt until firm and forming peaks. Gently add the sugar, a spoonful at a time, sprinkling over the egg mixture and whisking after each one. Whisk until you have a bowlful of shiny, white, very stiff meringue mixture.
Carefully sprinkle the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla over the meringue mixture and fold a few times to work through.
Use a pint glass or a large water glass to draw circles on to your baking paper, and spoon the mixture onto the circles. Flatten their tops slightly with a spoon and place in the oven, turning it down to 150C.
Bake for 30mins.
Turn the oven off and leave to cool in the oven for another 30mins (or as long as you can wait), then leave them to cool on a wire rack.
When cool, carefully remove from the baking paper, dress with cream and fruit and enjoy!

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mini pavlovas: 11 comments

  1. Lauren Says:

    Romy, this brought tears to my eyes! What a sweet little anecdote!

  2. Anna Says:

    I have some leftover egg whites from making ice cream and have been pondering what to do with them! This is perfect.

  3. home girl Says:

    mini pavs are such a great idea, much less intimidating agree! wish i had my own kenny to help out (my dad has one and i am working on trying to get him to hand it over).

  4. Rose Marie Says:

    I have an odd tip, and it produces the most wonderful meringue.

    Put ALL the sugar in with the unbeaten egg whites and pinch of salt, (before you start screaming, calmly read this through), beat for around a minute, and then place the bowl over a very low flame, and beat until you have beautiful, thick glossy eggwhites. If you’re not confident with direct low heat, you can use a double boiler.

    I promise the most wonderful meringue you have ever tasted!

  5. Nadia Says:

    yummmmm, really can’t wait for summer. the low flame tip really works! i love brown sugar meringues with heavier fruits too – figs etc. A winter version! x

  6. Romy Says:

    We will have to give the low flame trick a try! And Nadia those brown sugar meringues sound like a dream.

  7. Pei-Lin Says:

    Oh, beautiful little pavlovas!! I’ve been intrigued by this Aussie/Kiwi dessert! I promise I’ll try my hands on making this after Chinese New Year is over. =) Thanks for sharing!

  8. chika Says:

    hello there, i’ve just stumbled across your lovely site thanks to aran (c&v), and i’m glad i have – such a delightful little place you have beautiful food, beautiful writing, and beautiful photography! i know this entry was posted a while ago, but this particular story attached to pavlovas was so touching i couldn’t help but say something… thank you for sharing. oh and i was in melbourne for a few months back in 2006, and am itching to come back and visit…love the city.

  9. sam Says:

    this is so lovely in a Notebook-y kind of way!

    I have decided to make these on the weekend and i cannot wait to stuff myself stupid!

    Thanks girls!

  10. sarah Says:

    Hi Sam, How did you go with the pavlova? So yummy. We have so many eggs in the fridge I think it will be a curd and pavlova day tomorrow!

  11. Honey Kennedy» Blog Archive » Trotski & Ash: Sweet Recipes Says:

    […] MINI PAVLOVAS RECIPE I found the Trotski & Ash website while looking for Pavlova because I was missing my friend Diana. I don’t miss a whole lot about living in Minnesota, but I do miss this friend in fanciness. I’ve been in so many retail shops lately that I know she would adore and I’ve also been missing our wonderful summertime dinners. We would trade off on hosting and her passion is baking. The first time I ever had a pavlova was one that she had made with copious amounts of cream and heaps of fresh summer berries. The dessert left quite an impression on me and I always think of it as “ballerina cake” since it was named after enchanting Russian classical ballet dancer, Ánna Pávlova. Maybe if I practice this pavlova recipe to perfection, my friend would come visit sooner rather than later? I hope so. […]

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