Kiwi & Champagne Pavlova
Dust swirls in aimless circles, bouncing about in columns of bright golden rays poking through a barely closed window. Tired eyes eagerly watch; moments flow by with little attention paid to responsibility, tasks and obligation. A hand crawls along soft silken sheets; fingers search for their companions. Two hands meet. Fingers locks in a lover’s grasp there to remind each other neither fled.
A delicate breakfast of fruits, homemade granola and a poached egg is carefully plated, ambrosia presented to a partner in hopes of pleasing new lips to stay. Glances, lustful stares, are shared in-between bites. Smirks pierce hungry faces. Memories of sultry details from the previous night drive a shy gaze to the ground before lifted again by a soft kiss on the cheek.
Two entwined hearts split off on to their separate paths for the day. Hours are spent staring at small screens in their hands, at frivolous conversations with the other. Awkward outbursts of laughter direct friends to ask, “what’s so funny?” A seemingly innocent message and another friend inquires, “what has you smiling so much today?” Firsthand gossip is shared. Eager listeners sit on the edge of their seat with you; a story, a passion-ridden, no holds barred account, pulls “awws” and congratulatory smiles from friends lucky enough to get to listen.
A secret love is revealed. Careful approach and consideration is replaced with pomp and celebration. Two strangers, so different in their approach and opinion, come together like a pair of clasped hands. At first minutes are celebrated. Soon days and weeks are cause for party. Eventually longer periods of time (months and years) become the foundation for remembrance.
Arguments and strife seem inevitable. Fights get out of hand. Friends, once sharing admiration over cute stories, now provide warm hugs and comfort. Anger passes. Lustful eyes meet again. “How silly were we for fighting about that?” is uttered from one sorry parter. Familiar eyes stare at each other and smiles replace sneers.
A kiss is gently planted on a forehead. Time together is celebrated with quite moments. Passion merges with comfort and familiarity. Maybe paths will indefinitely split again. Perhaps years together will become a lifetime together. Wonderment and worry churn the stomach. It excites the mind.
A dessert is constructed to mark celebration. Unlike the siren’s breakfast, this dessert is a snapshot. It isn’t meant to entice; it’s here to to show off, to remind, to remember. Two unique flavors and a collage of contrasting textures come together to form an incredible plate. The baked meringue base of the pavlova has a soft airy marshmallow center surrounded by a crunchy, crisp shell. The kiwi champagne with its tart, fruity bite juxtaposed with the creamy whipped cream and delicate meringue create a symphony of complimentary flavors. So much contrast and yet still a perfect product is created. Parts, on their own great, come together to tantalize the tastebuds into one of those desserts that’s leaves you saying, “just one more bite,” over and over.
Pavlovas: Pavlova is quite simple to make. So long as you follow a few key steps in preparing the meringue, yours should come out perfectly. Like the great pasty chef Bo Friberg, whose recipe I have adapted here, I believe the perfect pavlova is crisp on the outside and soft and marshmallowy on the inside. To achieve this, you need to refrigerate the pavlovas for 3 to 4 hours, with the whipped cream spread on top, after they are baked and cooled. You can leave the pavlovas out if you wish, but that will cause the whole pavlova to be crisp.
Meringues: As always, with any meringue based recipe you must work quickly. Once the egg whites are whipped to stiff peaks, you need to shape them and bake them right away otherwise the meringue will deflate. Another key to a successful meringue is adding the sugar only after the egg whites have quadrupled in volume and adding them slowly while whipping the mixture continuously. Adding the sugar too soon, too late, or all at once will cause the meringue to form improperly, or not at all.
Whipping to stiff peaks is also key (soft peaks and the pavlovas will sink, over whipped and they will taste off and look bad). To test for stiff peaks, pull the whisk straight out of the mixture and turn it right side up. A tall, stiff peak should form and stand on end with out sinking or falling off the whisk (it is ok if the top inch or so falls to one side in a curl). Eggs whipped to stiff peaks will look glossy. Soft peaks will form a similar looking peak but they will sag and slide down the whisk a little. Also, much more of the peak will flip over to one side. Over whipped egg whites will look broken, clumpy, and not glossy.
This recipe is adapted from a Bo Friberg Recipe. It will yield 1, 10″ pavlova or 6, 4″ pavlovas.
Size note: This recipe is for 6 small pavlovas. If you choose to bake one large pavlova add about 15 minutes to the baking time.
Baking sheet line with parchment paper
Stand mixer or hand mixer
1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 eggs)
4 drops freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 ounces sugar
1 1/4 ounce corn starch
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat an oven to 210°F. Draw 1 10″ circle or 6″ in circles (using a cake pan or ramekins as a guide) on the parchment paper. Place the paper in the baking sheet, ink side down so you’re not putting the food on the marked side.
2. Measure out 2 ounces of sugar and mix it in with the cornstarch in a bowl. Set aside.
3. Add the egg whites and lemon juice to a separate bowl and begin whipping at high speed.
4. Once the egg whites are quadrupled in size (they will appear very foamy), begin adding the 6 ounces of sugar not mixed with the cornstarch into the egg whites while whipping, adding the sugar slowly.
5. Continue whipping the egg whites on high until they form stiff peaks.
6. Reduce the mixer to low and add the cornstarch and sugar mixture and the vinegar. Mix until both are completely mixed in. Be careful not to over whip the eggs.
7. Using a cake spatula, shape the pavlova to fit in the circles you drew. Each pavlova should be about 1 inch tall. I try and make the the shape as cylindrical as possible but you can really give is just about any shape you want. You can can also pipe them if you’d prefer to use that method.
8. Bake the shaped meringue in the preheated oven for about 1 hour. The outside will feel sturdy and dry like a rigid shell when done. Take care not to over bake it as it is better to have a softer inside than a dried out interior.
9. Let the meringue disks cool at room temperature. Begin preparing the whipped cream.
10. Whip the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
11. Once the meringue disks are cool to the touch, spread the whipped cream on top of each. You can shape the whipped cream to any shape you wish.
12. Lightly cover the pavlovas with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours.
While the pavlovas are resting in the fridge, you can prepare the kiwi champagne sauce. This sauce is like creating a compote or jam but with the sauce being strained from the fruit in the end. If you like a chunky, jam-like sauce, you can skip that step.
Kiwi & Champagne Sauce
This recipe will yield about 1 cup of sauce.
Heavy bottomed pot
Fine mesh sieve
1 lb kiwis (about 5 or 6 kiwis), peeled & mashed or blended
3 1/2 ounces sugar
1/2 cup champagne
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Heat all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat until the begin to boil
2. Adjust the heat to keep the mixture at a steady, but not aggressive boil. Boil the mixture, stirring often, until it begins to form a jam-like state, about 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, saving all the juice. Be sure to press on the fruit in the sieve to squeeze out all the juice.
4. If the reserved sauce is not thick enough, put it back in the pot and boil it lightly until it reaches the desired thickness.
Only add the sauce and slices of kiwi to the pavlovas just before serving. Store all the parts separately in a refrigerator if needed for a day or two. Keep everything covered when storing, as whipped cream and meringue can absorb flavors and smells easily.