My mum is a proper Aussie, meaning, she raised me on pavlova and regret-drenched love ballads sung by the torchiest torch light singers of the 60s. And Abba. Australians looooooove Abba (if you don't believe me, just watch Muriel's Wedding).
But back to Pavlova and my mum. My mum baked a lot of fabulous things when I was growing up. Everyday after school, I'd rush through the door to see what she had made. On the off chance she was busy and couldn't bake, my dad would take over, which usually meant epic milkshakes, marshmallow fluff sandwiches, or a trip to the market to fill the candy drawer; all things that horrified my mum. We were a collectively chubby family in the 90s.
Anzac biscuits, lamington, her ridiculous sour cream coffee cake; all of these were sliced up for after school snack and packed up and taken to school to share with my class. The principal had to tell her to stop sending me with my daily ration after kids started tossing their lunchables in anticipation of my mum's baking.
What I remember most about her kitchen was the music. She's the most musical person I know. Dance parties to the B52s was a common occurrence, drumming on the kitchen island with wooden spoons and teaching each other dance moves. Not much has changed, really. I begrudgingly join the dance parties that she always kicks into gear after a birthday or Thanksgiving, but by song number two I'm in with both feet, doing my best to not look like a total dork.
Pavlova is one of the special desserts for me. My mum gave in to our every whim when it came to the birthday cake conversation: baked Alaska one year, a three tiered wedding cake for my sister the next, but pavlova would always pop up around my birthday because it was the quintessential summer dessert. Light, sweet, and airy, just like the ballerina whose tutu it was named after.
I had never made pavlova until this post. It always came with a lot of bother attached because of the meringue, and meringues can be fussy if they want to be. When I mentioned the idea she was ready with tips and corrections, she is a seasoned Pavlova pro after all.
So mum, this Pav is for you, this song for you, and on your birthday month, this post is for you. Happy early birthday, I love you!
(1 large or 6 small)
4 large egg whites
1 cup superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablspoon sugar
1/4 tsp rosewater
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 pints raspberries
2 pints raspberries
1 tablespoon sugar
pistachios, husked and coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 275F. Sift the sugar, cream of tartar, and cornstarch. On low mix the whites and salt for 1-2 minutes or until frothy. Go up to medium high, gently adding in the dry ingredients in a stream. Once the meringue is glossy and forming soft peaks (anywhere from 4-10 minutes, depending on your mixer), finish on high speed and add the vanilla. Meanwhile, on a piece of parchment paper, draw your heart shape as a template. You don't have to do this, but it definitely helped me. Spoon the meringue onto the shape, and spread so it forms a 1/4-1/2 thick layer (thicker for larger pavlovas) and then add more meringue around the edge, forming a border of little peaks. It should be anywhere from 1-3 inches high, depending on how large your pavlova is.
Pop in the oven and turn down the temperature to 250F. Bake for 30-40 minutes for small pavlovas and 1 hour for a large pavlova. It should be a slight beigey-pink and definitely NOT toasted. Turn off the heat and crack the oven open. Let the pavlovas cook to room temperature and remove (this is to prevent cracks and to cook it totally through). You want it crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
For filling, whip the cream, sugar, vanilla, and rosewater until soft peaks form. Fold in the raspberries (do more if you like a lot of raspberries). Mound the whip cream in the middle of the meringue and top with fresh raspberries and pistachios.
NOTE: Do this just before serving since the whipping cream will dissolve the meringue over time.
For a quick raspberry sauce, combine the raspberries and sugar over low heat (add a spoonful of water to get things started) until saucy (about 5-10 minutes). Let it cool a bit and drizzle over the pavlovas.