Meringue is easy. I shall say it again MERINGUE IS EASY. I have no idea why there is a great mystique about meringue being hard, or people being in awe of those that can make meringue. I remember as a child at home there was one person in the village that was always asked to make meringues for fetes and coffee mornings; because they “could make good meringues”. In my opinion the hardest thing for me about meringue is being able to spell it correctly – and that is easy a RING of Pavlova MeRINGue (although I still often type it merigune). So it is time to conquer those meringue fears and make a Pavlova and impress your guests and become a super chef in their eyes (after all there is no need to tell them just how easy it is). My method makes a Pavlova with a crisp outside and a soft marshmallowly inside which is my idea of perfection.
The most important thing to remember about meringue – a smudge of grease or fat will make you fail, so make sure that your mixing bowl and mixer are scrupulously clean, and separate your eggs one by one into a cup before adding them to the rest of the egg whites; along with fat a speck of egg yolk will lead to an unsuccessful Pavlova.
Many recipes call for the addition of vinegar and cornflour, having tried either, neither or both I have seen no difference to the finished meringue. There is also no need to bother with caster/superfine sugar either – if you have some great – but do not bother to buy it (or grind granulated to caster as my mother used to). Just use what is to hand. Easy.
Whipped double cream
Place the egg whites into a bowl or your food processor; having separated them one by one in case you break a yolk. Whisk either with a hand beater or in the processor (this takea about 10 mins with my Magimix) until white and fluffy and holding a peak. Continue whisking adding the sugar in about 4 goes. When done the mixture will be white and glossy and standing in peaks when you stop whisking. This should take no more than 10 minutes with a hand held blender for a 6 egg Pavlova. If you use caster sugar it will take less time as it will dissolve quicker, a dab of the mixture will feel smooth between your fingers when the sugar has dissolved, if there is any grittiness continue whisk for another few minutes.
Place a sheet of greaseproof paper onto a flat metal baking sheet and heat the oven to GM2/150C/300F. There is no need for expensive baking parchment – standard supermarket greaseproof paper will do.
“Plop” the meringue mix onto the paper covered baking tray, and using a spoon ease it out to form a circle (about 8″ diameter for a 4 egg mix, 12-14″ for a 6 egg mix), gently push it into a nest shape raising the sides, if it has been whisked enough it will keep its shape.
Put into the preheated oven, immediately turning the temperature down to GM1/140C/275F. Bake for 40 – 60 mins until the cake is a very light golden, and sound hollow when lightly tapped. Close the oven door, turn off and leave to cool completely (I leave mine overnight – just remember to remove the Pavlova before you turn the oven on again).
Carefully peel the pavlova from the greaseproof paper and place on a flat serving dish – it will keep like this for several days in a non humid place covered in cling film or in an ait tight box. Don’t worry if the pavlova cracks, you can cover them with the whipped cream.
To serve fill with whipped cream and your choice of fruit shortly before serving.
Now impress your friends – I can never bear to make the first cut as I hate that the entire thing collapses when cut so I always get everyone to serve themselves!
Use golden sugar to make a more toffee flavoured Pavlova which is lovely with a chestnut cream, toasted nuts and apricots. Or make Chocolate Pavlova.
If you need to store the Pavlova for longer, pop it into a plastic bag and suck all air out – apparently it will keep for several months like this – but I have not tried this yet – not that it would last this long in my flat before I ate it!
Egg whites freeze very well, so if you have left overs from using yolks pop then in a pot in the freezer until you next make Pavlova, defrost in the fridge and bring to room temperature.
Use left over egg yolks in Broccoli and Smoked Salmon Tortilla .