Pavlova is actually an excellent dessert to take as an edible gift, provided it's assembled just before eating. Meringue, if stored correctly in an air tight container, can easily be kept for over a week at room temperature. So, when we were invited to stay at a friend's beautiful holiday home in the chilly Nuwara Eliya hills last November, we offered to bring a couple of desserts and these mini pavlovas was one of them.
To make the meringue, you'll need
- 4 Egg whites
- 1 cup of Sugar
- 1 tablespoon of Cornflour
When making meringues, cleanliness is paramount. The bowls, whisk and utensils you use must be squeaky clean and dry, with absolutely no grease or moisture. Oven temperature is also important as the meringues need to be cooked 'low and slow'- in a low oven for a long time. Using a stand mixer with a balloon whisk will also make life easier as the mixer will basically do all the work for you.
So, to make your meringue, first preheat the oven to 150C. Whilst the oven preheats, carefully separate 4 eggs. Use room temperature eggs and make sure there isn't any yolk in your egg whites. If your egg whites are slightly on the older side, all the better, as they will whip up beautifully. Add the egg whites into your clean mixing bowl and start whipping. Once they become white and frothy, start adding your sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Once most of the sugar has been added, mix corn flour with the final 2-3 spoons of sugar and add it in. Make sure that each spoonful of sugar dissolves before the next one is added. The mixture should have practically quadruple in volume. The meringue is ready when it's super stiff and glossy; you should be able to hold the bowl or whisk upside down!
Dollop or pipe your meringue, on to a baking tray lined with baking paper. Although I love the greedy generousness of one large fruit piled pavlova, we made meringue nests, as its easier to transport smaller nests in a couple of containers, rather than fit one big meringue into a huge box.
To bake, put the meringue filled baking tray into the hot 150C oven and immediately lower the temperature to 100C. Bake for 45-50 minutes, then switch the oven off. Try to resist all temptation to open the oven door and check on them; allow the meringue to cool completely and dry out in the oven.
Once completely cool, store in an airtight container, with a layer of tissue paper to absorb any excess moisture. Humidity is a meringues worst enemy so best bake meringue while the sun shines!
To turn meringues in to pavlova, we took a 200ml carton of fresh cream, fresh passion fruit and bought lovely fresh strawberries from Nuwara Eliya. Whip the cream till light and fluffy, and top the meringues, with a good dollop of cream and fresh fruit just before serving!