Warning alert: This dessert is jaw-achingly sweet even for a sugar hound like me. If you forbid desserts that are beyond the normally accepted levels of sweetness, this one is not for you. But do stay on, I might just lure you into becoming a convert through an eloquent description of this snow-white meringue dessert, of whipped cream and fresh fruits ; and so I begin….
Some say that Pavlova originated in New Zealand, while some believe that it was first created in Australia. However, like with the case of many desserts, the origin of Pavlova will continue to be a subject of bewilderment. What we do know for sure is that it was created in honour of a Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. She must have been an immaculate dancer, to have a dessert named after her..
From its traditional ensemble of meringue topped with strawberries, kiwi fruit and whipped cream, a Pavlova has manifested itself into many avatars. This one for instance, has travelled all the way from the land of Kiwifruit and Kakapos to the Mediterranean, of pomegranates, pistachios and rose petals generously strewn over ripples of whipped cream and meringue clouds.
The egg whites are whipped to a stiff peak along with caster sugar. They are then slowly baked in a mildly hot oven. Essentially, the meringues have to be crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, like marshmallows. If you don’t much care for pomegranates, use fruits that are not overly sweet.
For the meringues
- 3 egg whites
- 175 g caster sugar (bring it down to 150 g if you want to cut the sweetness)
- 1/4 tsp lemon juice
For the filling
- 150 ml whipping cream
- 1 tbsp rose water
- 2 tbsp strawberry jam
- Handful of pomegranate seeds
- Handful of pistachios
- Icing sugar, to dust
- Rose petals, to decorate
- Spray a baking sheet with oil and line it with parchment paper. Draw a 20 cm/8 inch circle on the parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 160 C.
- In a clean, stainless steel bowl, using an electric beater, whip the egg whites (at room temperature) to a frothy consistency (30 seconds). Add the lemon juice and continue to whip the egg whites, adding the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until they form stiff peaks (5 minutes).
- Now, using a rubber spatula, spoon the meringue over the prepared baking sheet. Use the circle drawn as a guide the spread the meringue. Keep the centre slightly hollow. Using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula, create ripples on the sides.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 140 C. Bake the meringue for 1 hour. After the meringue has been baked, allow it to cool in the oven with the oven door slightly ajar.
- Meanwhile, whip the cream to soft peaks. Add rose water and the strawberry jam. Whip again.
- After the meringue has been completely cooled, spoon the prepared whipped cream in the center. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds and pistachios. Dust icing sugar and decorate with rose petals.