Monday, February 18, 2013

Downton Abbey Finale with Pavlova

Since last night's Downton Abbey was the season 3 finale, I wanted to make something a bit special... pavlova! 

Pavlova was big in the 20's... which is around the setting of the current season.  This was a bit of an adventure for me since I have never tasted it before and had no idea what I was shooting for.  Turns out, it was quite a success!  The hubs was extremely pleased and ate most of the pavlova.  All I could think of was how the cloud-like dessert reminded me of the sumptuous garments they wore in last night's episode.  I thoroughly enjoyed the trip to Scotland.  Did you?

I must say, it was fun reading all of the Facebook updates as my friends reached the end of the episode.  I couldn't help but think of how Violet would have responded to all of the chatter.  I imagine it would have sounded something like this...

Image retrieved from the Downton Abbey Facebook page.

With that in mind, let's make a Pavlova!

4 large egg whites (room temperature)
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Whipped Cream (See below)
Raspberry Sauce (See below)

Preheat oven to 250F.  On a sheet of parchment, draw a 7" circle with pencil.  Turn the parchment over and lay onto a baking sheet.  The outline should be visible.

In the bowl of a large stand mixer with whisk attachment, add egg whites and salt.  Begin on low and proceed to medium speed.  Continue mixing for 2 - 3 minutes, until the whites become bubbly and soft peaks begin to form.

In a small bowl, combine sugar and cornstarch until there are no lumps.  Turn mixer to low.  Slowly and steadily add the sugar mixture to the egg white mixture.  Once incorporated, return mixer speed to medium high for another 3 minutes.

Add the vanilla and vinegar together in a small bowl and begin to slowly add to the egg mixture.  Continue on medium high speed for another 4 to 5 minutes, until the meringue takes on a glossy, fluffy appearance.

Pour meringue onto parchment, creating a smooth but fluffy disc.  Create a well in the middle of the circle (edges should be slightly higher than the middle).

Place into a 250F oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.   Bake until the outside is dry and has a cream color.

Turn oven off and open the door slightly, allowing meringue to remain in the oven for another hour or more to cool.  Once cool, peel the parchment off of the bottom of the meringue and place onto a serving dish.  Pavlovas have a crispy exterior and a soft, cloud-like interior.  They are prone to cracking.  This is NOT a problem... just indicative of success.

Pavlovas are traditionally topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit (strawberries, raspberries, kiwi...).  Rather than the fresh fruit, I made a fresh raspberry sauce (see below).  Beautiful, isn't it?!

Let's look at it from another angle.  Ahh... in all of its luscious glory.

If serving a crowd, cover the entire meringue with the toppings for effect, then cut and serve.  However, since it was just the two of us I preferred to cut the meringue and top each slice individually.  This way, I could place the leftover meringue in an airtight container to save for the next day... not that there was much left.

 Bon Appetit!

Whipped Cream:
8 ounces heavy cream
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar (depending on desired sweetness)
Splash of vanilla, about 1 teaspoon

In a large bowl, combine ingredients.  Beginning on low and slowly increasing speed to high, mix until firm peaks form.  Stop before butter is created.  Pour into a container, cover and refrigerate until ready for use.

Raspberry Sauce:
2 clamshells of fresh raspberries (can also use a 10 ounce bag of frozen)
splash of water
3 - 6 tablespoons sugar (depends on sweetness of berries)
1 teaspoon corn starch
squeeze of lemon juice

In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons sugar with cornstarch and set aside.  In a saucepan, add berries with a splash of water.  Turn burner to low-medium and allow berries to heat.  They will begin to burst and release their juices.

Add the sugar mixture and stir in, preventing clumps to form.  Allow the berries to cook until they thicken and get bubbly.  Taste the mixture.  If more sugar is added, add the additional sugar to taste. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.  Pour mixture through a sieve to remove seeds.  Pour sauce into a heat-safe bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

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