Christmas is a time for family and for great food. It was our first Christmas in New Zealand so we made the festive season extra special by recreating a traditional family recipe, the pavlova. Made with a light meringue base and topped with fluffy whipped cream and fresh summer berries, the pavlova is one of the desserts in New Zealand that I have always looked forward to. I have never made a pavlova or even a regular meringue before so I was quite reluctant to make this dessert at first. After all, it was easy to cheat and buy a ready made pavlova base from the supermarket. But where is the fun in that? With motivation from Jon and Steve (Jon’s dad), and a reliable family recipe from Nicky (Jon’s auntie), I finally decided to give the pavlova recipe a go. There was a lot of pressure in making the dessert but it was all worth it!
I made the pavlova on Christmas eve so it had a lot of time to cool and set over night. The whipped cream and fruits were added on Christmas day, just before we served the dish. This way the pavlova remains crisp and the rest of the ingredients are fresh.
A stand mixer is probably ideal for the pavlova as it takes a while to prepare the egg whites but a hand mixer (this was what I used) worked fine. I did take turns with other people while we whisked the egg whites as it was quite taxing to do.
Here’s how I made the New Zealand Christmas Pavlova:
- 6 egg whites, at room temperature
- 2 cups caster sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 tsp white vinegar
- 6 tbsp cold water
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp corn flour
- 300 ml cream, whipped
- 3 tbsp powder sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- strawberries, sliced
- kiwi fruit, sliced
Pre-heat oven to 200 ºC bake. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with electric mixer set on high until soft peaks form (about 8-10 minutes).
Continue beating while adding the vinegar, vanilla and cold water. Continue beating while adding sugar a quarter of a cup at a time. Beat until stiff peaks form. Mixture should be thick and glossy at this point. Remove electric mixer. Fold in corn flour.
Draw 20cm diameter circle on baking tray with a pencil. Spoon mixture out prepared tray, carefully following the drawn circle.
Bake for approximately 5 – 10 minutes at 200 ºC, until it starts to change into a cream color. Lower the heat to 100 ºC and continue baking for 1 hour, until dry and crisp and it lifts easily off the baking paper. Cool overnight. When completely cool, carefully transfer to a serving plate using two wide spatulas.
Whip the cream with an electric mixer set at high speed. Slowly add vanilla and powder sugar to sweeten.
Garnish the top of the pavlova with the whipped cream and decorate with sliced fruits of your choice. Summer fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are always a big hit.
Have you tried to make this New Zealand Christmas Pavlova recipe? What traditional desserts do you make during Christmas? Let us know.