Thursday, April 28, 2011

Love and Pavlova

With the Royal Wedding less than 24 hours away I think most of us have weddings on the brain.  Although tomorrow morning we will be celebrating the wedding of William and Kate, Greg and I celebrated another English wedding almost two months ago, and I must say it will be difficult for William and Kate to top it!  Greg's brother Michael and his (now) sister-in-law, Tabatha were married in small church on the English countryside that was over 700 years old!
 
As I sat watching the ceremony, I thought about all of the weddings throughout the centuries that must have taken place at the church and all the love that filled this sacred space.  That day, Michael and Tabatha made their love for one another official when they said their vows and became husband and wife.  I am so blessed to be a part of Greg's family and really excited to have a new Mrs. P around!  I wanted to share a sweet reading from the day of the wedding which still makes me tear up when I read it:
From The Velveteen Rabbit:

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but Really loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get all loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Ok, here I am, welling up again!  Anyway, here's to love!

So what does all this have to do with pavlova?
Well, in addition to the lovely traditional wedding cake we shared, we also had individual sized pavlovas at the end of our meal.  Let me just say, I had never tried pavlova before, and I went absolutely nuts after I took my first bite.  A thin, crisp outer layer envelopes the melt-in-your-mouth center of this sweet dessert and the fruit compote takes it over the top.  It's hard to believe that such a simple recipe can produce such amazing results but it's true!

Now after doing some research, I found that pavlova actually originated Australia or New Zealand, but I will forevermore think of England when I taste this treat!  I have to admit, my "pav" didn't turn out nearly as delicious as the one I had that day, but for a first effort I was pretty happy.  For my next attempt I will make sure to do it on a cool, dry day and I will whip my egg whites a little bit longer to ensure they hold their shape.
Pavlova

Meringue:
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar OR 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar OR distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup (6 ounces, about 6) large egg whites, preferably room temperature
Pinch salt


Topping:
2 pints fresh or frozen berries
1/4 cup sugar
Whipped Cream for topping


Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the vanilla and vinegar (if using) into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.

In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites, cream of tartar (if using) and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.

Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar (if you didn't use cream of tartar.) Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.

Pipe or spoon the meringue into 8-10 large round mounds that are 3 inches wide on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon liner. With the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked.

Place baking sheet in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white -- not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around.

Gently lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week if your house is not humid.

If you want to make a berry sauce, heat a couple pints of fresh or frozen berries in a medium saucepan with about a quarter cup of sugar. Heat on medium heat, stirring once or twice, for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much the berries are falling apart. Remove from heat and let cool.

If you want a step by step photo tutorial head on over to Simply Recipes!
 Good.
 Bad!
Really good!

Hope you enjoy!  

Is anyone getting up early (or staying up all night) to watch the Royal wedding?  I'm aiming to get up at 5 am but we'll see what happens!

17 comments:

  1. These look so refreshing! A "royal" dessert :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yum! Love desserts with berries! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Your pavlova looks great! I really like the idea of topping it with a berry sauce, looks tasty :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yum!! I'm kind of excited about the royal weeding. No shame.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hey Lady! I completely understand why you would pay special attention to the royal wedding, Greg is British. I love weddings, the planning, the details. But geesh all the hype about this one and the over coverage is too much.

    ReplyDelete
  6. yum i've never had pavlova before, but i would love my own individual size one! they look delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  7. So what did you all think of the wedding!? I thought it was a true fairytale wedding - loved it!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a lovely dessert. It's a combination of rose red and snow white. I'll be doing a vacherin later in the week. I hope you'll stop by. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love love the sweet read you posted, my girls loved that book and it still holds a special place in our hearts..i love pavlovas and I make nigella's chocolate vesion every year for vday, but single serving..too cute!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Back again, I love the fried avocado salad!! great idea!! tweeted

    sweetlife

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love this! What a great light dessert.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow your pavlova is beautiful! My favorite story when I was little was the Velveteen Rabbit. now it sort of makes me want to cry!

    ReplyDelete
  13. @Mary, stopping by right now!

    @Bonnie,I would love to try a chocolate version, after all doesn't chocolate make everything better!?

    @Lauren, thanks, it's like eating clouds!

    @Meri, I know, childhood books get me all the time these days!

    ReplyDelete
  14. My Grandmother Shackleford had these in her oven ALL the time. I always knew they would be in her oven when we visited. Sometimes we had them with fresh berries; however I loved them just as they were--nothing on them. Good memories. By the way, your chocolate biscotti recipe was a hit with the family at Easter!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lucy, we have some berries that need to be used and while I'm not really a baker, I want to try these over the weekend. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  16. @ Denise, thanks for stopping by! If you don't feel like baking, the berries would be great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream:) Have a great day!

    ReplyDelete