Pavlova may seem like an exotic, complicated dessert to make for the novice cook, but rest assured it is really quite easy to prepare and will leave your guests thinking you are a culinary superstar.
Not only can the dessert components be prepared in advance leaving you time to mingle with friends and family on this long weekend, the toppings can be easily adapted to suit the season and specialty diets.
Because maple syrup is in its glory days this time of year, it is only fitting to use the liquid gold in an early Spring inspired dessert. If you don't want the extra sweetness, feel free to omit the cascading syrup and instead add a little to the whipped cream. Don't like bananas? Substitute sour cherries or lightly stewed rhubarb instead. Allergic to nuts? Skip 'em! Can't have dairy? Whip coconut milk instead of heavy cream. Gluten sensitivities? There isn't any gluten in this recipe.
Have some fun in the kitchen this Easter and don't forget to send me a picture of your finished desserts to Cindy@elginharvest.ca
What is Pavlova?
Pavlova is a dessert native to Australia or New Zealand (both countries argue about who created the dish first). Although named after the famous Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, the texture is what makes this dessert the sweetheart of culinary legends. The meringue cake, baked crispy on the exterior and marshmallow-like on the interior, is typically served as one layer filled with rich whipped cream then topped with fresh fruit.
Inspired by international cuisines and the bounty of Elgin County, I’ve taken the dessert from Down Under and localized it with the addition of Canada’s culinary star - maple syrup. I’ve also stacked the pavlova three-layers high and garnished it with sliced bananas and walnuts. Feel free to substitute local fruit instead.
Don’t be intimidated by the luxuriousness of this dessert- novice cooks from around the world have been preparing pavlova for over 75 years. The secret to a successful ‘pav’ is patience; the meringue must bake at a low temperature and be allowed to dry before using. You may prepare the separate components in advance, however, it’s best to assemble the final pavlova no more than six hours before serving as the crispy meringue will soften and crumble as it sits. It is a dessert that is messy to cut (a serrated knife works great), but beauty is in the belly of the beholder.
This recipe will make one large, several medium, or multiple individual meringues. Adjust your baking time accordingly. You can increase or decrease the size of the recipe by knowing the magic ratio: one large egg white to 56 g of sugar (by weight) makes a thick and glossy meringue.
Maple, Walnut & Banana Pavlova
6 eggs whites, room temperature
1 ½ cup (336 g) light brown sugar
1/8 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp vinegar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 cups 35% heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp plus 1 cup local maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.