Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pavlova Cupcakes

Pavlova. It's like a cloud, with a few sweet calories, but gluten free! Which is exactly the type of dessert I was looking for when preparing for a Christmas dinner catering event that had to be gluten-free, lactose-free and include a vegetarian option! This dessert was a sweet ending that could be served with lactaid-laced cream or on its own with fruit.

I first tasted Pavlova when visiting family friends in Australia. It was sweet, crunchy on the outside, but soft and slightly chewy on the inside.

"To be a true KIWI Pavlova you MUST include vinegar in your recipe and the result MUST be crusty on the outside, yet soft and marshmallowy on the inside." — Bron Marshall
There is some debate as to whether this frothy dessert was first created in Australia or New Zealand. Both countries claim to have invented it and both countries are proud to claim it as one of their national dishes. There is, however, agreement on the fact that it was created when Anna Pavlova first visited these countries in 1926. It was said of the Russian ballerina, "She does not dance; she soars as though on wings."

Pavlova biographer, Keith Money, wrote that a chef at a hotel in Wellington, New Zealand actually created the dessert. He claims that the hotel chef had been inspired by Pavolva’s tutu, which was draped in green silk cabbage roses. He attempted to recreate the shape of the tutu using a meringue crust, with the whipped cream indicating the frothiness of the skirt’s net. To hint at the green roses, the chef decorated the dessert with slices of kiwi fruit.

"No one can arrive from being talented alone, work transforms talent into genius."
— Anna Pavlova
There's no debate that this dessert is easy to make. If you can whip egg whites, you can make Pavlova. Just stay out of the controversy and dig your fork into this cloud of sweetness.


Makes 8 to 10 servings

For Meringue:
6 large egg whites
1½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups sugar
¼ cup boiling water

For Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, or to taste
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
dash of cinnamon

Mint, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F. Center a rack in the oven.

Whisk the egg whites, cornstarch, cider vinegar, vanilla and salt until foamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Whisk in ¼ cup boiling water, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until whites are stiff and glossy. Spoon meringue onto center of a parchment paper or foil lined baking sheet and spread to 9-inch-diameter circle with slightly raised edges. {Or use cupcake liners for individual meringues.}

Bake meringue 10 minutes at 350°F. Reduce oven temperature to 200°F and bake until dry and crisp outside and just cooked through inside, about 1 hour. Turn off oven. Let meringue stand in oven 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool completely.

For whipped cream, whisk the heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until soft peaks form.

To serve, spoon whipped cream onto Pavlova. Garnish with strawberries and mint.

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    chow and chatter said...

    these are awesome

    Happy New Year


    lindaraxa said...

    Beautiful post, love the cupcake idea for dinner parties!

    Brittany (He Cooks She Cooks) said...

    Cute cupcakes! I hadn't even heard of pavlova until I went to Australia two years ago, but I love it. And I love the idea of making them as individual cupcakes.

    Barbara said...

    A great way to serve pavlova. That look terrific.

    I feel Keith Money has not done his research correctly on the history of pavlova.

    If you'd like to know the true story Michael Symons (Aust food historian) covers it in his book One Continuous Picnic. He grants the invention to New Zealand. This link may be useful. Click on each page number to read chapter.

    Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

    What a great post... I love historical referenced recipes... great job on the research

    And the dessert looks terrific as well

    kamran siddiqi said...

    Did somebody say with strawberries on top? Looks absolutely delish!!

    Have a Happy New Year! :)

    pigpigscorner said...

    Beautiful! Happy new year!

    pam said...

    So pretty! Happy New Year, Shari!

    Susan @ SGCC said...

    Gorgeous! Happy New Year, Shari!

    Cherry Blossom said...

    HAPPY NEW YEAR - what an adorable idea - love the cupcake size.. this would be cute for a wedding... i love it" And as you said sometimes it has to be gluten free and lactose free!

    natalia said...

    Wonderful !!! I love pavlova ! Baci

    Michele said...

    These are just adorable! Genius!

    lisa is cooking said...

    I love the idea of little, individual pavlovas! I've always thought I'd be afraid to cut into a big one, and this solves that issue. They're very pretty too!

    angela@spinachtiger said...

    I have been wanting to make pavlova for a while. Thanks for the push and I'm so glad to have connected with you. Happy New Year.

    xbox 360 cable said...

    I liked these cupcakes. The presentation manner is beautiful! I am surely going to try them. These can make a wonderful Christmas treat!

    Dishin And Dishes said...

    Lovely. I adore pavlova! Happy New Year!

    Julie said...

    They look divine! I love the idea of having them in cupcake form.

    Aimée said...

    One of my favorite desserts! Thanks, Shari and a happy New Year to you!

    Syrie said...

    Lovely Shari. I agree. In the end it doesn't matter who invented it (the Kiwis), just dig in. Happy New Year!

    Lo said...

    I was introduced to pavlova under the name "Schaum torte"... grandma made it every Easter and we covered it with fresh spring strawberries and delicious freshly whipped cream.

    The idea of making cupcakes is so wonderful! Do the middles of your pavlova still retain that wonderful, fluffy texture?

    Maria said...

    What a nice sweet little treat. Happy New Year to you!

    La Bella Cooks said...

    Not only do these look absolutely decadent, but they are gorgeous as well. Kudos to you!
    Happy New Year to you.

    Shelley said...

    Those are so gorgeous. They look like, strangely enough, little Easter baskets. Not usually what I'm thinking about on a January day when there's snow piled up outside!

    The spring-y look was positively inspirational, and I bet they tasted even better than they look.

    Happy New Year, Shari!

    Eliana said...

    These little cakes look absolutely divine. Happy New Year.

    Marc @ NoRecipes said...

    This is one of my favourite desserts ever, but I hate how long the big ones take to bake. A stroke of genious to turn them into cupcakes:-)

    EB of SpiceDish said...

    I fell head over heels for Pavlova while living in Australia and these look like you've taken a great thing and made it even better!

    katie said...

    How convenient a light dessert for the new year. The problem is that I may not be able to stop at just one. Friggin pavlovas...

    Amy @ said...

    This is a fantastic idea! Fantastic pictures! You have totally inspired me.

    Lori said...

    These look so delicious. They are little clouds of loveliness. I really need to make pavlova and I really like your idea here. Thank you.

    Malak said...

    Looks great!