It’s hard to believe I’m sharing my last post exploring my Culinary Bucket List in partnership with Silk, purveyor of exceptional plant milks and plant-based foods! I’ve been so inspired to actually start working on the list rather than adding more and more to it! I’m grateful to Silk for the jumpstart.
I wanted to finish with something special both to me and for the holidays. When I got married we eloped to Fiji and had a native ceremony. The genesis of all of it is a bit foggy now but it started with eloping to Hawaii and honeymooning in Fiji and ended up with doing everything in Fiji. It was the perfect wedding, dressed in handmade Fijian paper garb (years later I saw the same outfit at the Smithsonian), barefoot on a beach. I was carried into the ceremony by the village ‘warriors’, the men of the village, on a large rattan chair on posts woven with flowers.
The small resort where we were staying was the only commercial establishment on the island and was for adults only. Couples from all over the world were there. We met a lovely couple from New Zealand, Janis and John, and quickly spent all of our time with them. We’d go in for dinner and the resort staff learned rather than sitting solo our own romantic tables, we would be combined into one where we’d spend the time laughing uncontrollably. The romantic picnics where couples would be dropped with an exotic lunch on a deserted beach only to be fetched hours later, we did together. They were a highlight of our trip.
We’ve kept in touch over the years and right after I started my blog Janis did a guest post for me about how they spend Christmas in New Zealand. Being south of the equator it is of course mid-summer for them and their traditions and foods reflect that.
For dessert they make a Pavlova, which originates in New Zealand. The white, lofty, strangely shapen dessert was new to me before reading the guest post. I was completely intrigued and baffled candidly about what it is, how it would be eaten and what it would taste like. It seemed fitting that I finally make one for this post!
Though Pavlova originates from New Zealand, its name is derived from a Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova, for whom the dessert was created during a tour in New Zealand in 1920. The dessert is a meringue that is baked at a lower temperature to achieve a crisp exterior and a creamy almost marshmallow interior (though it is not sticky).
I’m quite taken by the texture really and probably have consumed far more than needed of my test batches solely for the mouthfeel of the dessert. It is topped with whipped cream and an assortment of fruits right before serving. If topped too early or with wet fruits the pavlova loses its crisp outer texture. As exotic as it looks the preparation is quite easy and takes less than 10 minutes to mix up.
There are many methods of cooking and cooling the pavlova which is the part that I found tricky. When the pavlova is baked at too high of a temperature it will turn tan in color. I was determined mine would be snowy white which lead through various methods each of trying different temperature, cooking durations and cooling methods as well as times. By far the superior method I feel is to cook it at a low 200 degrees for an hour and allow it to cool in the oven, for an additional 2 hours with the temperature off. This produces a creamy white pavlova that does not crack and bears the signature exterior and interior textures.
Pavlova is typically topped with whipped cream and fruits. A traditional combination is kiwi and strawberry, which taste wonderful together as well as bear the Christmas colors of red and green. I chose to stick with those colors but wanted to expand both the textures and flavors so opted for kiwi, fresh raspberries, pomegranate arils (seeds) and mint. It’s a beautiful, light dessert that seems quite exotic!
Pavlova is an elegant, light dessert perfect to dazzle at any dinner. It’s topped with whipped cream and fruit which can be adapted for your preference or occasion.
The traditional holiday topping is kiwi and strawberry in its country of origin, New Zealand. This version stays with the holiday colors of red and green using kiwi, raspberries, pomegranate and mint. Most recipes for ‘Pav’ as my local friends refer to it, call for room temperature egg whites.
At the risk of causing contention, my experimentation found cold egg whites (and my Kiwi friend maintains old eggs, never new) to provide greater volume. Both cold and warm worked but I was more successful with cold egg whites. In my research on making pavlovas I noted caution not to make them on a rainy day and that they can be a challenge in more humid climates due to the meringue.
If not eaten immediately they need to be wrapped air tight and frozen for up to four days, or overnight at room temperature if in a dry climate.
This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.