I made this pavlova for my best friend and roommate Brittany’s birthday. She just turned 20 on St. Patrick’s Day, but is wise beyond her years.
Birthday girl Brittany, rocking a very Lara Croft-esque outfit (Nat lurking in the background)
But before I start, I believe the majority of you will need me to define “pavlova.” And by that, I mean you’ll need Wikipedia to define it. So here we are:
“Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. Colloquially referred to as “pav,” it is a cake similar to meringue with a crispy crust and a soft, light inner.”
So basically it’s a light, heavenly dessert with an initial crunch and a satisfyingly chewy middle. Delicious.
I have fond memories of many a dessert eaten in Ireland visiting my dad’s family (yes, this is how I’m attempting to tie this in with St. Patrick’s Day). Whenever there was any sort of a fancy or important event, like my Nana and Pop’s 50th wedding anniversary, my talented aunt and godmother Ann would make pavlova. She made the best pavlova I’ve ever tasted. Alright, so technically I didn’t have a lot to compare it to, but I just remember it being good. Also, back then I was a picky eater, so anything that a younger Hilary declared delicious must have been extraordinary. Ann would always pile whipped cream and strawberries on top, adding to the already decadent value of the cake.
I decided to do the same, except with chocolate mousse and a variety of berries.
When Britt originally asked me to make pavlova, I was incredibly worried and hesitant. I’d heard several a pavlova horror stories, many of which involved the delicate pavlova shell simply shattering (this partially happened to me). On the day that I was making it, I ran into my friend/foodie extraordinaire Ella who gave me some helpful tips. These tips included things like make sure there is not a drop of egg yolk in the egg whites, dry your bowl completely before using it, etc. etc. If you’re reading this Ella, please know that I took your advice extremely seriously, and that I full on give you credit for this pavlova being a success.
It turns out it wasn’t really that bad to make. Sure I had to turn our powerful oven down to a mere whimper of the recipe’s ordered temperature (it was in at 150 degrees fahrenheit), but other then that, everything went off without a hitch.
Mixing egg whites with sugar is really quite a phenomenal experience. Seriously, it is magic. How can two seemingly simple ingredients create such a marshmellowy smooth cream? It’s wonderful, really. I am stunned and humbled everyday by the power of desserts.
Anyways, the recipes I used to make the pavlova and chocolate mousse and down beneath the pictures. The only thing I would have changed would have been to make my pavlova larger in height, versus diametre. This would have lent itself more to that chewy pavlova centre I made reference to earlier. You want all that you can get of that good stuff.
PS: Be gentle with this one. Pavlovas are all about precision and carefulness. I kept the finished pavlova in my bedroom so it wouldn’t face torture in our shared dining room. Promise me you’ll keep this in mind.
Source, vanilla pavlova: Phe.MOM.enon (note: I didn’t use her mousse recipe)
Source, chocolate mousse: Joy of Baking