Challenge Yourself: Bake a Pavlova, the Controversial Sweet Dessert
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Challenge Yourself: Bake a Pavlova, the Controversial Sweet Dessert

If you want to test your culinary skills, try baking a Pavlova. This meringue-type dessert is as controversial as it is fragile and delicious. Some claim the Pavlova is from Australia; others say it comes from New Zealand. There's also a debate about its name. One thing is true, you won't find many Pavlovas served as dessert in the U.S. You'll likely have to travel to the U.K. for that dining experience.

I've been reading through a 1969 version of The Hollywood Bowl's annotated cookbook, The Cook & the Cadenza. There are all sorts of wonderful gourmet recipes from around the world in this book, and also quite a few notes about famous musicians who liked to cook (including the great conductor Zubin Mehta. Where else could you learn that Enrico Caruso's favorite meal, at Maxim's in Paris, was caviar, followed by chickden with vegetables - or that the great Rossini was a well-known gourmet, who gained so much weight eating his own food, he could not get through his doorway.

There are some lovely vintage recipes in this global cookbook, from Hors d'Oeuvres to Eggs to Entrees, Sea food, and of course, Desserts. I have chosen to highlight The Pavlova, New Zealand's lovely, fragile dessert, whose airy appearance belies the controversy surrounding it. Apparently, there is quite an argument about whether the Pavlova is from New Zealand or Australia (both countries claim to have created it). Also, in dispute - whether or not the meringue-like dish was named for the famed Russian ballerina, Pavlova. Some references say The Pavlova was first created in 1926 to honor the ballerina when she visited; others say it was created in the 1930s. Still others say it has nothing to do with the ballerina, but took its name because the meringue-like concoction is light and graceful, just like a dancing prima ballerina.

The Pavlova is not as easy to create as one would think, but it's worth trying just to see if you can! The ingredients aren't all that exotic or expensive, but you will require a steady hand and some patience to get it right. Perhaps because the margin of error is so small, in making sure it doesn't collapse on the plate, you don't see that many Pavlovas on the menus of American restaurants. You'll have better luck ordering one at an upscale restaurant in the U.K., I understand.

At any rate, you can challenge your cooking skills closer to home by turning out a standing Pavlova that will do you proud. Here's how:

Ingredients: 3 egg whites, 1 cup sugar, 1 tspn. vanilla, 1 tspn. vinegar, 2 tspns arrowroot or cornstarch, Whipped cream and Kiwi fruit and/or strawberries.

Preparation: Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In deep, medium-sized bowl, beat egg whites until stiff, but not dry. Beat in sugar gradually, one tablespoon at a time. With a knife, lightly fold in vanilla, vinegar and cormstarch (or arrowroot). Turn this mixture onto a grease-proof paper, like waxed paper or foil, on a cool cookie sheet. Form this mixturer into a domed circle. Gently scoop center towards the sides to make a small indent on the top of the form. Bake for 90 minutes at 250 degrees.

Fini: When done, cool the Pavlova on a rack, leaving paper base attached. The center of the dish should be moist with a light, cream-colored crust on the outside. You must be very careful when moving The Pavlova so that it doesn't fall, but don't be worried if cracks appear in the crust, as they will disappear when covered with the reserved Whipped Cream. Apply the Whipped Cream thickly on the top about an hour before serving, adding strawberries and/or kiwi slices as decoration and garnish (or choose a berry fruit of your choice, as a variation).

This recipe, was submitted to the above cookbook by the Counsel General of New Zealand, who said, as far as she knew, The Pavlova had nothing to do with the great Russian ballerina. The Counsel General also stated the dessert came from her homeland, New Zealand. No ifs, ands or buts.

i find the Pavlova recipe quite enchanting - and the vintage cookbook, which was its source,a culinary treasure. Where else could you find a recipe for composer John Green's popovers or Meredith Wilson's ("Music Man") favorite cole slaw? 

Recipes galore here, so you may sing for your supper, if you like.

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Comments (4)

My mom used to make Kiwi Pavlova!

I wish I had the patience to make this. Looks delicious!!! YUMMMMMMMMMMM

Ah, lucky you, Brenda! As for chiccinema - this is a bit time-consuming , but economical, and bombastic fantastic if you can do it right! Thanks for your comments

sounds good

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