Named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova and created in her honor during a tour of Australia and New Zealand, a Pavlova is a delicate, crispyet- soft meringue shell filled with fruit and cream. Not only is it fun and easy to make, it’s also gorgeous and delicious. I created this Pavlova to serve at Myers+Chang, where we are always looking for desserts to complement our addictive menu. At the restaurant, we make individual meringues and top them with fresh plums and figs marinated in plum wine that meld marvelously with the simple vanilla whipped cream. This large version is impressive and dramatic and makes for a great dinner-party dessert.
- Yield: 10 Servings
- 6 egg whites
- 1¼ cups (250 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch, sifted
- 0.12 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 ripe black or red plums
- 12 ripe figs
- 1 cup (240 ml) plum wine
- ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream
- ¼ cup (35 g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- A few fresh mint leaves for garnish
To make the pavlova
- Preheat the oven to 200°F/95°C, and place a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and trace a 9-in/23-cm circle in the center of the paper. Flip the parchment over (so your pencil or pen won’t mark your Pavlova) and coat the parchment liberally with nonstick cooking spray. Then coat it again.
- Using the stand mixer or handheld mixer and a large bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed for about 1 minute. The whites will start to froth and turn into bubbles and eventually the yellowy viscous part will disappear. Keep beating until you can see the tines of the whisk or beaters leaving a slight trail in the whites. With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the granulated sugar in six to eight equal additions, beating for about 30 seconds after each addition. It should take 4 to 5 minutes to add all of the sugar. When all of the granulated sugar has been incorporated into the egg whites, increase the mixer speed to medium high and beat for about 1 minute longer. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cornstarch, salt, and vanilla. The meringue batter will be gloppy and sticky looking.
- Scrape the meringue batter into a tall mountain in the middle of the circle on the prepared baking sheet. With the back of a spoon, create a well in the middle of the meringue and spread it out to fill the 9-in/23-cm circle. You want to shape the meringue into a bowl with sides 2 to 3 in/5 to 7.5 cm high.
- Bake the meringue for 3 to 4 hours, or until it is firm to the touch and if you press it with your fingertips they do not poke through the surface. It should be crispy on the outside and somewhat soft on the inside. Turn off the heat and let the meringue sit in the closed oven for another 2 hours.
- Remove the meringue from the oven and carefully peel it off the parchment paper. (The meringue can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.) To make the plum compote
- Halve and pit the plums and cut them into slices ¼ in/6 mm thick. Trim the stem off each fig and then quarter the figs lengthwise. Put the fruit in a heatproof medium bowl. In a small saucepan, combine the wine, granulated sugar, and salt and heat over high heat just to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the syrup thickens slightly. Pour the syrup over the plums and figs and set aside for at least 3 hours, or until cool. (The compote can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring back to room temperature before using.) When ready to serve the pavlova, make the whipped cream
- Using the mixer or a whisk and a bowl, whip together the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Don’t overwhip! You want your cream to be soft and billowy.
- Spread the cream over the meringue, leaving 2 to 3 in/5 to 7.5 cm around the edge of the meringue exposed. Using a slotted spoon, remove the plums and figs from the syrup, reserving the syrup, and arrange the fruit on the cream. Drizzle the entire dessert with a few spoonfuls of the syrup and garnish with the mint. Serve immediately.