After watching all those MasterChef series, I too wished to be a part of such cook-offs. The thrill of using your creativity and cooking knowledge to wow the judges, and all that in a limited time frame is just too exciting. As a culinary enthusiast, I love taking up a cooking challenge to learn something new. I found a perfect opportunity when Beacon Holidays organized the #TasteNewZealand cook off challenge.
The challenge: To cook a New Zealand dish with atleast one of these ingredients – Lamb chops, Lamb mince and Kiwis. As soon as I read about the challenge, my baking instincts took over and I decided to bake a Kiwi Pavlova.
Now I have made pavlova just twice and although a fairly simple dessert to whip up, the trick lies in getting the meringue right. So here is the recipe I used and a few tips to help you bake a perfect pavlova.
Serves 4-5 people
Prep time: 15-20 mins
Baking time: 1 hour
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 cup whipping cream/double cream
2 ripe kiwis
2 tbsp white chocolate ganache (optional)
milk chocolate for piping (optional)
1. Separate the eggs whites from the yolks and whip on high speed.
2. When soft peaks form, add sugar 1 tbsp at a time.
3. Once stiff peaks form, add vanilla essence, cornflour and vinegar. Fold in till combined.
4. Spread out on a lined baking tray. Bake at 140 degrees C for an 55-60 mins.
5. Allow to cool completely. Almost an hour.
6. Whip the cream till soft peaks are formed, add in white chocolate ganache, and half a kiwi, finely chopped – almost mashed to puree. (for the ganache, chop a tbsp white chocolate and add a tsp of really hot milk, stir till it melts completely)
7. Spread this mix on the cooled pavlova. Top it with kiwi slices and pipe on some milk chocolate.
Image credit: Shanti Padukone
7 Tips for a Perfect Pavlova:
1. Egg whites…and just eggs whites! Not even a dot of yolk. Start with a clean bowl and separate the egg white one at a time. I use a different bowl to separate the eggs whites from the yolk and then transfer the egg whites one at a time. This is a very very crucial step because if you don’t get this right, the egg whites won’t whip up to the desired consistency.
2. Consistency: Stiff Peaks. Whip the egg whites with an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer on high speed. Initially, it will just froth up and you will be able to see bubbles and the runny liquid. Be patient, give it some time. After about 5-10 minutes, it will start getting white and gradually soft peak will form. Soft peaks is when the hand mixer moves you can see it leaving a trail of its movement. Start adding the sugar when you see the soft peaks. Once all the sugar has been added, the meringue will look glossy. Keep whipping it till stiff peaks are formed. Stiff peaks: when you lift the hand mixer out a stiff peak will be formed at the tip.
Another famous test is holding the bowl inverted above your head. When you tilt the bowl, if the meringue slides, its not ready yet.
3. Once it has baked, allow it to cool in the oven itself, keeping the over door slightly ajar. After a while you can keep it out to rest, but allow it to cool completely. Even though the surface seems cold, the inside takes a while to cool. It is important to let it cool completely else the whipped cream that you are going to top it with, will melt completely.
4. For mini pavlovas, when you hold it and gently knock on the base, will sound hollow. For a larger pavlova you might not be able to test with this method, but an hour in the oven should be just right for the pavlova to bake completely.
5. Avoid trying to transfer it while it is hot. It will fall apart into pieces. After its cold, you can gently lift it or just slide the parchment itself on the serving plate. Because of the weight of the cream and fruits, it is best to put on the toppings after you have transferred it to the serving plate.
6. Crack are normal. A proper pavlova will have cracks so don’t worry. You can cover it with whipped and fresh fruits.
7. Bake the pavlova in advance, top it with whipped cream and fruits just before serving.
Here is my prize from the cook off, a bottle of New Zealand wine, Sauvignon Blanc 🙂 Thank you Beacon Holidays!
You can view the entire photo album of the cook off here – http://tinyurl.com/ounzxy2