- A New Zealand dessert, this pavlova recipe is naturally gluten-free for the holidays. -
Today’s guest post comes from travel writer Melanie McMinn. Melanie runs FrugalKiwi, a blog dedicated to extreme travel in New Zealand for women of all sizes. Her site is awesome on all fronts… I mean how much respect do I have for a woman who jumps out of a plane and crawls on her belly through crazy caves? Talk about cojones!
Here she is, talking about a lovely dessert that I’m going to try as soon as I can get my hands on some kiwifruit. It occasionally pops up at California farmer’s markets in the winter time, and now I have a reason to keep an eye out for it.
Pavlova History, by Melanie McMinn
What do egg whites, a Russian ballerina, and an 80 year old feud between New Zealand and Australia have in common? They are all part of the traditional summery Christmas dessert, the classic pavlova recipe. This delicious dish is a light and airy meringue cake that is crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. Topped with whipped cream and seasonal fresh fruit, this gluten-free dessert is perfect for a hot Down Under Christmas day.
The saga started in 1926 when the great Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova performed in New Zealand. According to Pavlova’s biographer Keith Money in Anna Pavlova: Life and Art, a chef at a hotel in Wellington was inspired by her tutu covered in netting and green silk cabbage roses and created a meringue dessert in her honor. He covered a large meringue cake with cream “netting” and kiwifruit* slices to suggest her cabbage roses. To the frustration of New Zealanders, there is no documentation to support this claim.
The records are clear, despite typical Aussie howling to the contrary, that a dessert including gelatin called a Pavlova was printed in New Zealand in 1927 and a “Meringue with Fruit Filling” recipe that perfectly describes the modern pav was published in Home Cookery for New Zealand in 1929. The first Aussie mention of a pavlova-style dessert isn’t until 1935 and even that was adapted from a woman’s magazine recipe submitted by a New Zealand woman!
The Australia/New Zealand pavlova recipe rivalry is alluded to in the funny “Everyone’s Always Stealing Your Stuff” ad for insurance company NZI. Made even more amusing if you know that NZI is an Australian owned company…
Ready to try the dessert that is the center of international rivalry? Throw on your apron and grab some eggs. This pavlova recipe is reposted from Allison Gofton, the best known face in New Zealand cookery and author of 15 cookbooks from her eCook website. Here is the original link to the recipe.
- 4 egg whites
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 4 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoon vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Seasonal fruits for topping
- Whipped cream for topping
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
- Put the egg whites and cream of tartar into a clean bowl and beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks but is not dry.
- Gradually beat in three quarters of the sugar, about 2 tablespoonfuls at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the remaining sugar. The mixture should be thick and glossy.
- Sift in the cornstarch and add the vinegar and vanilla. Beat on a low speed only to combine.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fit a pastry bag with a large round tip and pipe the meringue into a filled 6-inch circle.
- Bake for 90 minutes and then turn off the oven and allow the pavlova to cool completely with the door closed.
- Serve piled with whipped cream and seasonal fruits.
This recipe is best eaten when you are slathered with sunscreen and sitting in the hot sun after eating some prawns from the barbie. Also a great 4th of July dish, it is easily made into a “red, white and blue” dessert when covered in strawberries and blueberries while letting some of the cream show through. Or spare your Northern Hemisphere guests a heavy traditional dessert and serve this airy confection at meal’s end.
*If you are in New Zealand, you should never say that you are eating “kiwi,” unless you mean you are having a nibble on the endangered national bird. Probably a bad idea to mention it even if it is true.