Get your beaters out. Pavlova requires a meringue base which is a lot of beating. Vanilla cream needs continuous stirring as it cooks. Whipped cream says whip in the name! Although it’s a lot of work, pavlova is one of my favourite desserts but not necessarily something I would make if it weren’t a special occasion.
Appears light, sweet, and simple at first but then it’s technically a lot of work and effort to create – is this dessert me?
My Norwegian grandmother (technically grandmother’s brother’s wife but it’s chill) made pavlova one summer and I went with a combination of her recipe and the recipe in my Norwegian Cakes and Cookies cookbook that my boyfriend gave me for Christmas. Let’s look at the recipe first, and then break down my story and feelings.
- 5 egg whites
- 250 mL sugar
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1-2 tsp cornstarch
- Add sugar slowly.
- Spread meringue evenly on parchment paper on baking sheet.
- Heat oven to 482°F.
- Place meringue in oven, turn off, and leave it overnight.
- 3 egg yolks
- 50 mL sugar
- 300 mL milk
- 5 mL vanilla
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- Mix on medium heat until thickens.
- Mix with 300 mL whipped cream.
It’s pretty self-explanatory from the photo. Don’t assemble until you’re ready to serve to keep that meringue crisp.
Tips ‘n’ Tricks
You can make meringue! It’s very important you follow whatever recipe you’re using to the T and use a dry bowl and beaters. Seriously, even a little water is going to mess everything up.
Everyone has heard of beating the meringue until it has stiff peaks and a white shiny slip. Just turn the bowl over like a Dairy Queen blizzard and it should stay in place.
For the vanilla cream, I know you’re going to say “but Katie, that doesn’t add up! 5 egg whites and 3 egg yolks?” Yeah I know, but the cream doesn’t turn out right with all five or you have way too much vanilla cream leftover, just trust me.
Start on a low heat and work up so the egg and milk don’t scald or curdle or burn. I know, it’s high maintenance but it’s worth it.
What Happened Valentine’s Day 2019
If you’ve read down this far, I’m glad you actually care. But I’m assuming many people are just looking for the recipe and not my weird story.
I don’t seek out kitchen disasters but it’s pretty clear that I’m not a professional baker. I make a lot of mistakes. Luckily, I know this which is why I made a batch of meringue on Tuesday February 12th to give myself an additional day for disaster recovery.
I made a great meringue, flipped bowl over, peaks were ready to go. And then I made two mistakes.
My grandmother’s recipe listed 482°F or 250 °C and I didn’t think whether my oven was Fahrenheit or Celsius which is Baking 101 Day 1!
The oven wasn’t nearly hot enough so instead of blasting the meringue to a crisp, it just kind of candied the outside and kept the middle soft. Which wasn’t the worst, since I still had another night to remake the meringue. Unfortunately…
I didn’t line the baking sheet with parchment paper the first time. I thought I could just use the flipper to scrape them loose since it was a smooth pan and parchment paper is kind of expensive and maybe unnecessary? It is very necessary.
That previously hot sugar was fully baked onto the sheet. I had to go to work for the day and needed the pan to soak, but I didn’t want to leave it in the sink with a bunch of gross soggy meringue for my roommate to deal with. So I did what I had to do.
I filled a Rubbermaid container with a little dish soap and enough warm water to fully submerge the pan. It just takes water and time to loosen the sugar off the pan and it was perfectly clean when I got home. I just had to scoop out the floating meringues with a slotted spoon and had a real moment of self-reflection, kneeling in my bathroom with a garbage bag of squishy water-logged meringue clouds.
Also when you dump out the Rubbermaid container, do it slowly so that it doesn’t splash four feet in the air and soak you. I’ve learned my lesson.