Meringue

(Jan. 29, 2021) Art is a highly diverse range of human skills that are engaged in creating visual or auditory artworks that express one’s imaginative and technical skills.

A work of art is intended to be revered for its beauty and emotional power, and must evoke one’s senses to a degree of amazement and irresistible wonderment.

Cooking also falls under this classification. Food is carefully presented on a canvas by way of a plate and is embellished according to height, color and texture.

The end result is a piece de resistance that incorporates unbelievable flavors, a reflection of one’s heritage, and professional skills that are brought together by way of seasonal ingredients.

Winter is here and a gorgeous, snow white pavlova accompanied with whipped cream, fresh fruit and a decadent sauce can be a simple but stunning dessert.

If you are not familiar with pavlova, allow me to share the enchanting story behind this international dessert.

The bragging rights for pavlova (paa-vlow-vuh) are unclear. But the name and recipe began appearing soon after Russia prima ballerina, Anna Matveyevna Pavlova, toured Australia and New Zealand during the years of 1926 through 1929.

According to What’s Cooking America, Pavlova was considered the greatest ballerina of her time and her visit to New Zealand has been described as the most anticipated event of 1926.

Her devoted fans described her dancing style as one who glides across the stage as if she had wings. One can presume the light whipped egg whites and whipped cream of this famous dessert was created in likeness of the celebrated ballerina.

Australia and New Zealand have long been at odds over which country invented the antipodean dish. An article titled, “The Pavlova: New Zealand or Australian Dessert,” gives a detailed account on why the bragging rights are not so clear cut.

The article maintains that the dessert we know today can be traced back to 1926, when the cookbook, “Home Cookery for New Zealand,” included a recipe for Meringue with Fruit Filling. However, the name, “Pavlova” is not mentioned but the recipe is very similar.

One year later, the sixth edition of “Davis Dainty Dishes” is published in New Zealand, which included the first known recorded recipe using the name “Pavlova,” but the recipe included a gelatin as opposed to a meringue-base dish.

Professor Helen Leach, a culinary anthropologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand, said the earliest recipe that uses traditional pavlova ingredients was published in 1929 in a magazine titled, New Zealand Rural Magazine.

So, one might be asking where does Australia come into the picture? Anna Pavlova stayed at the Hotel Esplanade in Perth, Western Australia in 1929.

According to the Paxton family legend, Chef Herbert Sachse of the Hotel Esplanade found a recipe for Meringue Cake, and sought to improve it. The resulting recipe was called “Pavlova.”

The sweet offering became quite popular at the Hotel Esplanade and pivoted Chef Sachse to national acclaim.

In summation, most culinary experts believe New Zealand first developed the recipe, for a meringue cake which was sometimes called pavlova. But it was not until Chef Sachse created his pavlova recipe that the name became famous and widely known around the world.

Pavlova can be served plain or with a sauce. A ruby red raspberry sauce will add decadence and boost the flavor profile. This step is optional but for those who prefer a sweet topping, the recipe follows.

Place 3/4 pint of fresh raspberries, ½ cup of sugar and ¼ cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 4 minutes.

Combine the cooked raspberries and one cup of seedless raspberry jam into a blender. Puree until smooth. Strain mixture through a sieve and set aside until ready to serve.

Variation embellishes the chances for spontaneity and the pursuit of distinction.

The crusty exterior of the meringue cake is a wonderful contrast to the soft, marshmallow-like interior. Fresh whipped cream and seasonal fruit adds lightness which makes this dessert a great option year-round.

Edible gold dust makes this majestic dessert fitting for any occasion. Enjoy!

Meringue

4 extra-large egg whites, room temperature

pinch of table salt

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

2. Pavlova can be served as a cake or individual portions.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw either a 9-inch or 4 (4-inch) circles on the paper. Use a pie pan or ramekins as a guide. Turn the paper over so the ink does not get on the meringue.

3. Beat the egg whites in a glass or metal bowl with a hand-held mixer for two minutes. Gradually add sugar and beat for another two minutes. Add salt, cornstarch, and vanilla, and beat until stiff.

4. Carefully place the egg white mixture in the middle of the large circle or smaller circles. Create a crater in the center (for the whipped cream and fruit). This is going to be the vessel for the dessert, so take your time with the beautification.

5. Bake for 1 ½ hours. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven. Do not open the oven door until the timer goes off. The exterior will be crispy and the interior will be soft.

Whipped Cream

1 cup cold heavy cream

1 ½ tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Using a hand-held mixer, whip the cream in a chilled glass or metal bowl. The beaters should also be chilled. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla. Beat the cream until it becomes firm.

Filling

2 cups assorted fresh fruit

fresh mint as a garnish

powdered sugar as a garnish

edible gold as a garnish

Presentation

1. Place the meringue disk on a serving plate. Pipe whipping cream into the crater of the disk. This adds flavor and will act as a glue.

Artfully arrange assorted fruit on the whipped cream and center of the meringue disk. Serve with a side of raspberry sauce (optional) and garnish with fresh mint, powdered sugar, or gold dust.

Secret Ingredient – Art. “The principles of true art are not to portray, but to evoke.”

– Jerzy Kosinski

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