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Pavlovas (easiest dessert ever!)

July 17, 2010

I was delighted and honored when a friend asked me to make desserts for her Baby Shower. Knowing that there would be about 50 guests (children included) I wanted the sweets to be: fun, easy to eat (bitesize) and plenty to go around (about 40 of each dessert). I decided to make 4 different desserts; Nautical cookies, Chocolate brownies, Pavlova with cream and fruit and Fruit kabobs.

For the past month in preparation, I have consulted with old recipes, drawn inspiration from this wonderful blog and sought out the perfect Sailboat cookie cutter. I initially ordered one on the web (thinking it was easiest), but when it arrived in the mail I was unamused to discover it was a miniature Sailboat. In the end it was a perfect fit (literally) and I used it to make tiny cookies to adorn but what else? Tiny cup cakes.

Decorated miniature Sailboat cookies

I was able to find larger cookie cutters for 1 $ each in the Nautical-theme (whale, anchor, sailboat) from the local Sur La Table. The day before the party I started baking the cookies and worked well into the night and morning painting the Sailboat and Whale cookies. I dreamed of the colors Orange and Green, that night. Seriously.

I also wanted to include a chocolate dessert because I was told the father to be is a chocoholic. I have a fool-proof Brownie recipe that is simply amazing. The brownie has a crackled crust but the center is slightly oozy and fudge-like. It’s cooked in a full sheet pan, easy to cut into smaller bites and topped with a touch of Nutella (oh yes!) and my Salted -Walnut Brittle. When I make this brownie recipe I usually spice it up  generously with cinnamon and chili powder. I omitted the chili powder this time.

Chocolate Brownie with Salted-Walnut Brittle

I’ll admit that I had my work cut out for me and would have benefitted mentally, had I begun 2 days prior than 1. Thankfully some tasks were easier than others, but all in all, the desserts were a huge success and well received. The easiest dessert I made for the Baby Shower is Pavlova.I started it first, popped it an oven set at 200 degrees and went about my business. Done and done. Not only is it an incredibly easy dessert to make, it is relatively inexpensive (egg whites, sugar, whip cream, fruit) and you can gussy up the meringues with whatever you like.

Pavlovas with creme fraiche, mango and kiwi

In the past when making Pavlovas (Meringue), I’ve added orange blossom water and rose water to the egg whites, to make 2 different floral versions. They are wonderful filled with fresh sorbet, berries and toasted nuts. This truly makes a simple and elegant dessert or easy bite size desserts for a shower or party.

Pavlova

2 large egg whites

3/4 cup granulated sugar

pinch of salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (you can sub another liquid or extract)

1 tablespoon dried herbs (like lavender, lemon verbena, rosemary, pink peppercorn)

Few tablespoons confectioners’ sugar for dusting.

Chopped fruit or berries

sweetened Whip cream or Creme fraiche

Directions

Set oven to 200 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Add egg whites, sugar, salt into bowl (heat proof) of electric mixer and set of simmering water. Whisk egg whites constantly until frothy and sugar dissolved. About 2 minutes or until your forearm is slightly sore.

Add the bowl to the electric mixer and use whisk attachment to beat the egg whites until fluffy. Add the extracts and herbs at this point. Whites should be slightly glossy and hold stiff peaks. About 2-4 minutes.

You can use a large spoon to scoop out the meringue on parchment paper. Use the back of the spoon to form a well in the center of mound.

You can also add the meringue to a pastry bag with a large tip and pipe onto parchment paper into decorative rounds prepared.

Dust with confectioners’ sugar (to keep dry) and bake in oven for about 1 1/2 hours until meringues are dry. At this point you can turn the oven off and leave the meringues  in the oven, until you are ready to serve, or ready to store them in an airtight container.

Top with fresh fruit and cream.


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