Anna Pavlova (1881-1931), a Russian prima ballerina, was considered the greatest ballerina of her time. So ethereal was her dance that during her tour of New Zealand and Australia in the 1920s a chef created an enchanting dessert inspired by her tutu. A crispy, snow-white meringue with a soft inside and fruits on top, named after her; Pavlova.
For me, Pavlova is the queen of desserts. She mesmerized me the first time I created her and I remain under her spell ever since. Her simplicity proves that “pure art” is born just from egg whites and sugar. Her perfectly balanced sweetness blends angelically with the sourness of fruits. Her crispiness combined with the delicate and fine innermost enhances her glory. Her “majesty” is simply divine!
For the meringue
- 180 gr egg whites (roughly from 6 eggs)
- 180 gr sugar
- 180 gr sifted icing sugar
- ⅓ teaspoon mastic resin crystals
For the filling and topping
- 250-300 ml double-cream
- 1 kg organic strawberries (500 gr for decor and 500 gr for a sauce)
- 50 gr icing sugar
Making the meringue
- Preheat oven at 90-100°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Grind the mastic resin crystals in a mortar and pestle along with some of the sugar (use a teaspoon of the measured amount).
- Put the grinded mastic together with the egg whites and the rest of the sugar into a mixer bowl. Whisk using a mixer, under medium speed until a thick, shiny meringue is created. The French say that you know you have whisked your meringue to the right stage when it holds firm peaks, also known as “bird’s beak”. NOTE: Do NOT put your mixer at high speed as the meringue will get too much air causing it to lose its volume during baking.
- Take the mixing bowl off the mixer. Using a large spoon, gradually blend in manually the sifted icing sugar. Due to the high ratio of sugar to egg white, this meringue is very stable, still, try to be gentle while combining the icing sugar to the meringue.
- Use a spoon and spread the meringue on the baking tray, in a round, nest-like shape with the sides a little higher than the middle. For example, you can make the diameter of the meringue to be roughly that of a dinner plate and its height approximately 5 cm on the sides and 4 cm in the middle.
- Bake for approximately 2 ½ hours or until crisp and dry. Be careful not to over-bake it into a brownish color. You can open your oven and check as regularly as you like, the meringue is not a cake and will not lose its volume.
- When ready, remove from the oven and cool on the tray.
While meringue is cooling
- Whip the double- cream until it turns thick and “holds”.
- Place 500 gr of the strawberries and the icing sugar in a food processor and blitz until smooth.
- Remove the meringue from the baking tray, place into a serving plate and fill it inside (the “nest”) with the whipped cream.
- Put the remaining strawberries on top of the cream and pour the sauce over the whole lot, letting it run on the sides.
- Decorate with a touch of icing sugar and leaves of fresh spearmint (optional).
- You can make mini pavlovas, instead a big one. Use a spoon dipped in water to give the nest-like shape to the mini pavlovas. Also, reduce baking time by approximately 30 minutes.
- If you are not a strawberry lover, you can use any fruit you like.
- Do not use more mastic crystals for extra flavoring, as they will make your pavlova bitter.
- If you cannot get hold of mastic crystals, you can flavor your meringue with a teaspoon of vanilla extract.