Living in the UK, I get exposed to a variety of new television shows. One show is Come Dine With Me where four or five everyday people get thrown together to cook a three-course (and sometimes more) dinner for each other, and to get judged. Ultimately, the best cook/party host of the week wins £1000. A few months ago, I thought about auditioning for the show, not to win the money, just because it looks like it could be a lot of fun. However, the more recent shows seem to be less focused on cooking and more about what sort of crazy people can they put in a room (who usually can’t cook) to see what sort of drama ensues. I’m pretty sure that is not necessarily something that I’d be down for.
However, one of the popular desserts I see being made on this show is Pavlova. It originates from New Zealand (which makes it an interesting choice for UK cooks), although that is highly contested by their neighbors in Australia. Needless to say, a Pavlova is just a meringue. It seems that there is claim that there is a difference between the two, but I’m not sure I necessarily agree, as the big difference seems to be the addition of corn flour/starch which is supposed to make the outside crisp and the inside marshmallowy. However, as the pavlova recipe I follow doesn’t call for corn starch (or powdered sugar), and it has those delicious Pavlova attributes that one would look for. It’s more likely that the cooking style is really what makes the difference as meringues can be completely crisp throughout or they could be soft and delicate depending on the process used to make it. Italian and Swiss meringues are a lot softer than the traditional French style.
The pavlova is finished by adding whipped or chantilly cream (sweetened whipped cream) to the top and adding fresh fruit. It’s an ideal summer dessert (even if mine were made in the winter). I’ve made two Pavlovas in the previous few months. The most recent was completely traditional: meringue, chantilly cream, strawberry and kiwi. The first one I tried to be a bit more elaborate and add some lemon curd as well as the cream and fruit, but it was a bit too sickly sweet, so I can’t really recommend it. Or perhaps just use less lemon curd. For both of them, I used Delia’s Pavlova recipe which calls for two simple ingredients to make the meringue: egg whites and castor sugar. There’s a bit of a timing issue as you don’t want to add the sugar until the egg whites are perfect, but if you time it correctly, you end up with a beautiful (and tasty) dessert.