I made this pavlova on an extraordinarily hot and humid morning. It was also the same day as my son's first birthday. For some reason, I thought I wouldn't have enough desserts or the 20-odd guests, even though there was birthday cake, two huge fruit platters, watermelon pops, chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches, pecan pie, and more, so I decided to make this as well at the last second.
This was in the middle of making roast potatoes, Bulgarian shopska salad, marinating vegetables for the grill, and running around like a chicken with her head cut off.
Despite my best intentions, the meringue didn't rise nearly high enough, nor did I see the peaks the recipe calls for, and when I plopped it in a mound on the cookie sheet, it spread all the way to the edges. I chalked it up to the humidity, and the fact I wasn't watching the meringue in the mixer as closely as I should have, placed it in the oven and forgot about it. And you know what? It was my favourite dessert of the day. And I made some special desserts that day, as mentioned above. Some of which I have yet to blog about.
This photo doesn't do it justice. I took a quick snap in the middle of all the hullabaloo but I hope you will trust me when I say this is a real showstopper, both in presentation and in taste.
The recipe is from Nigella Lawson's book "Forever Summer," which you can also find on the Food Network website.
Substitutions: Finding caster sugar (which the book calls for) in Canada is like finding good percolated coffee in the U.K. Impossible. You can get away with buying the superfine sugar in the supermarket, but I don't think it's the same thing. I decided to save myself a few bucks and make my own superfine sugar. Basically whiz your regular granulated sugar in your food processor off and on for about a minute or two until it becomes almost as fine as baby powder. The book also calls for double cream, but you will note the Food Network site lists heavy cream, which is what I used, and it turned out just fine.
Would I make this again? I am looking for the right opportunity to make it again! But your timing needs to be spot on. Because you can't really make your whipped cream until the last second, before you serve it, in my opinion. Buying ready bought whipped cream crossed my mind, but it wouldn't have been the right texture.
Grade: Five stars out of five. There are times, sorry Nigella, that some of her recipes don't quite live up to my anticipation. Sometimes it's because I can't find the ingredients listed in her books.
Sometimes it's because she does such a good job of tantalizing the senses with her descriptions that the actual outcome falls flat. Sometimes it's because she makes the recipe seem a lot easier than it really is. This time, this recipe exceeded all of my expectations, despite my poor meringue-making skills. The next day, I found myself standing over the sink eating handfuls of meringue. Sometimes, I overshare, I know.