A crisp meringue shell with a pillowy interior forms the cake layer for this version of Pavlova, topped with custard laced with Bailey’s Irish Cream, Blackberries and Raspberries
I have a quandary.
I want to give you a great recipe for a show stopper dessert for New Year’s Eve (or any time for that matter) but I am still working on it. It’s at the point where it tastes amazing but it looks meh.
What to do? I am making it again today and I think I’ve got the appearance issue solved but it won’t be ready until tomorrow night (New Year’s Eve) and where will that leave you?
Are you up for a challenge?
Can I give you all the basic pieces and some suggestions for how to put it together? I mean, why not? In essence that is what cooking is all about: using basic building blocks to create wonderful dishes and desserts.
I think we can do this. Check on my Instagram today and tomorrow to see how mine is progressing!
Let start with the meringue.
Pavlova is an Australian dessert invented to celebrate the Russian Ballerina, Anna Pavlova, on the occasion of her 1920 tour of the two countries. It consists of one or two meringue layers topped with fruit and whipped cream. For our topping we are going to ramp it a bit from the usual whipped cream but for the meringue layer nothing needs changing–crisp on the outside and marshmallow soft inside it’s already perfect.
To achieve this, I turned to an Australian recipe of course! Always go to the source.
Eggs whites are beaten until they form peaks which hold their form when the beaters are lifted and then sugar is added slowly.
Once all the sugar is beaten in, we add some vinegar and cornstarch. The vinegar helps the crust form and the cornstarch stabilizes the meringue, helping it to form the pillowy inside.
You can make the meringue in one layer or two. Prepare a baking tray by greasing it lightly. Draw a nine inch circle on some parchment paper and place the paper ink side down on the baking tray. The grease will stick the paper to the tray which is a big plus when putting the meringue down.
My first Pavlova I used one layer which look great until I put the topping on and then it became a little one note.
So this time I am going for two layers. Piping the meringue onto the paper results in a cleaner looking meringue but since they will be covered with whipped custard, it’s not terribly important!
Once they have cooked, turn the oven off and let them cool in the oven with the door ajar.
You can make the meringues the day before, just wrap them well and keep them in a dry place until you need them.
On to the custard.
Custard can be a little daunting. I have spent hours stirring my custard over a very low heat and it never seems to get thick enough. But then I learned a couple of little tricks.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until they are light yellow and very thick. Trick #1: Add a little cornstarch to the sugar and it will help thicken the custard in no time. (Thank you Australia).
Trick #2: Instead of adding cold liquid to the egg yolks and heating it slowly over a very low flame, heat the liquids to almost boiling and slowly pour them into the egg yolks while the mixer is running. Then put the mixture over a medium flame and stir it for four to five minutes until it is thickened.
Put it in a cold bowl to stop the cooking. Let it cool, stirring it every so often until it is room temperature.
Now cover the surface with plastic wrap to stop a skin from forming and put it in the refrigerator until well chilled. This can also be done the day before.
Pavlovas are ephemeral desserts. Once assembled, they need to be eaten within a few hours.
So assemble them shortly before you want to serve them.
Whip some cream to thick and stir in half of custard.
If you are making a single layer Pavlova, spread the whipped topping over the base then dribble some custard over that. You can top it with chocolate if you like.
This was my first version. As I said, it tasted delicious but is lacking in appearance!
So this time, I made two layers and I will put some of the whipped topping between the two layers, adding a layer of berries, then finish the Pavlova with more of the topping and berries, passing the extra custard to those who want it.
To make a two layer Pavlova, carefully place the first layer on the cake plate. It may crack or even break. As long as it’s not a complete crumbled mess, the custard will hide the flaws. Spread half the custard on the first layer and then half the blackberries.
Repeat with the second layer.
You should not assemble this too far in advance. It will hold for three to four hours (although it will still taste good if you have to wait longer!). Store the cake in the refrigerator.
PAVLOVA WITH BAILEY’S IRISH CREAM CUSTARD
For the Meringue
- 6 egg whites
- 1 ½ c sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 3 tsp cornstarch
For the Custard
- 2 c milk
- ½ Bailey’s Irish Cream
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/3 c sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 c heavy cream
To finish the Pavlova
- Chocolate shavings optional
- Blackberries optional
- Raspberries optional
To make the meringue
- Preheat the oven to 200-225. Lightly grease one or two baking sheets. Draw a 9 inch circle on a piece of parchment paper (or two). Place the paper ink side down on the prepared trays.
- Beat the eggs whites until firm peaks form. Add the sugar a large spoonful at a time, beating until the sugar is incorporated. Beat in the cornstarch followed by the vinegar and vanilla.
- Make one large meringue layer or two thinner ones by spreading the meringue on the paper inside the drawn circles.
- Bake the large meringue for 90 minutes. The thinner meringues will take 50-60 minutes. Turn the oven off and let them continue to cool in the oven with the door ajar for 30-40 minutes.
- Carefully remove the meringues from the parchment paper and place on drying racks. The meringue may crack a bit, just stick it back together!
To make the custard
- Beat the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch together until they are very thick and light yellow.
- In a heavy bottomed sauce pan heat the milk and the Bailey’s Irish Cream until almost boiling.
- With the mixer running, slowly dribble the milk and Bailey’s mixture into the egg yolks. Once it is all poured in, return the mixture to the sauce pan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is thickened.
- Put the custard in a bowl and let it cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the custard and refrigerate until cold.
To assemble the Pavlova
- Whip the cream until thick then beat in half of the custard.
- For the single layer Pavlova, top with the whipped cream mixture, dribble with some custard and sprinkle with chocolate
- For the double layer Pavlova, spread one layer with some of the whipped topping and sprinkle with berries. Top with the second layer and repeat. Serve with custard on the side