It’s school holiday time in Melbourne, with kids in the kitchen and mess everywhere. The girls wanted to make something sweet but both have radically different tastes. After some negotiation, a pavlova was agreed upon, after some squabbling about suitable toppings. Before we grabbed the electric beaters, a detour through history into the life of Anna Pavlova was fun, something I had never thought about much before their visit. As Tchaikovsky played in the background, we admired all the beautiful old photos of Anna Pavlova in her divine longer tutus and portraits of her with her pet swan, Jack.
We discovered other wonderful facts about Anna’s life, including her last words on her death-bed, “Get my Swan costume ready.” This is now our secret code for beating up egg whites or dying like a swan, which ever comes first.
Pavlova is an easy dessert for young cooks to whip up. It doesn’t matter if it cracks or turns out misshapen. It will still taste great. Just crack and separate the eggs for them and hand over the electric beaters. They love watching the whites whip up into a big fluffy tutu. Once the eggs are standing up, the younger child adds in the sugar until the boss (me) says they are ready. Add a little cornflour, white vinegar and vanilla and let the kids do the sculpting on a papered tray.
Basic 4 egg Pavlova Recipe ( serves 6-8 )
- 4 egg whites ( room temperature)
- pinch of salt
- 250 g caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornflour
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- few drops of pure vanilla
Preheat oven to 180°c. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Draw a 20 cm circle on the paper. Beat egg whites and salt until satiny peaks form. Beat in sugar, a third at a time, until meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and fold in lightly. Mound onto paper lined tray and flatten top and smooth the sides. Place in the oven, immediately reduce heat to 150° c and cook for 1¼ hours. Turn off the oven and leave pavlova to cool. Invert pavlova and pile with chosen topping.
From Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion
While the meringue cooks and cools, it’s time to make the topping. I usually settle for whipped cream and brandy macerated strawberries or, in season, passionfruit. Daisy was happy to settle for this mundane option but not Charlotte. After rejecting a few of my suggestions, including a lemony custard, she decided on a chocolate mousse filling!! Warning, the following photos of this chocolate mousse pavlova may make you want to utter those dying swan words sooner than expected. This is a pavlova for kids and the young at heart.
Fast Chocolate Mousse Filling.
- 200 gr packet of cooking chocolate, 45% solids.
- a dash of rum or brandy
- 4 egg yolks
- ¼ cup sugar
- some whipping cream to loosen.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the boiling water. Loosen with a little brandy or rum.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until very pale and thick. Add gradually to the bowl of melted chocolate.
Beat the cream until thick, then add to the chocolate mixture. Stir in well then set in the fridge.
PS. The chocolate mousse topping was ridiculously rich. from Charlotte 🙂