Valentine Pavlova from My Kitchen Wand

Valentine’s Pavlova

I often hesitate to make things that are out of season as rarely, in my opinion, does anything taste as good as local in season produce. That said Valentine’s is coming and with a few tweaks the more traditional wreath shape can become a nice dessert for Valentines (when things go as planned).

Valentine Pavlova from My Kitchen WandStep one is to find or draw a heart that you can use for a pattern. If drawing, then simply complete the art on parchment paper and then turn the paper over so the lines are visible but the ink is not touching the pavlova.

I opted to print out a heart  I found by searching, “heart silhouette” on Google.

I put the paper under the parchment paper on an overturned cookie tray and then set everything aside and continued with the recipe.

Little did I know that that would be the only smooth running thing in the kitchen.

Hearts have been connected to love for centuries. Some suggest that the source is a plant leaf, possibly ivy or silphium. Others posit that the writings of Galen and Aristotle are it’s source as they described the heart as being a chambered vessel with a dent in the middle. Up until the late 1300’s most pictures showed this symbol of love in what we would call a reversed position. This allowed for the suggestion that the shape was related to breasts or buttocks. After the flip and an increase in the depth of the dent in the first half of the 1400’s, its shape stabilized and we have the symbol that today is used on the internet by millions of people every day to indicate love.

Valentine Pavlova from My Kitchen WandYou will need:

3 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. distilled white vinegar
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

What I planned on using:

3 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup extra fine sugar
1/2 tsp. distilled white vinegar
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds, skin on

As this is a dessert to share with someone special, focus on all the good feelings and memories you hold in your heart. Let go of any nigglies trying to claim your attention. While washing hands and shifting into the present moment, invite in the compassionate spirits. Begin.

Valentine Pavlova from My Kitchen WandThe first thing that happened was I discovered that my sliced almonds were nowhere to be found, so I changed out the extract and carried on. If you have almonds at home or time to go shopping, toast them lightly and mix in three tablespoons to the whipped meringue, but I get ahead of myself.

Extra fine sugar or fruit sugar is a smaller grain than regular white sugar but larger than icing sugar. Because of the smaller size, it will dissolve more quickly while whipping the egg whites.

Popping some regular sugar in the blender for a few seconds will work just as well and you can choose to pass on this step and whip a little longer. I was so pleased when the hand mixer gave out that I had ground the sugar!

Valentine Pavlova from My Kitchen WandBegin by putting the egg whites into a clean bowl. A clean bowl is important here as anything in the bowl can affect the eggs coming to their full “stiffness potential”.

Once the eggs are frothy, begin adding in the sugar, a little at a time.

Do not over power the eggs whites. Give them time to incorporate the sugar before adding more.

You will notice the mixture thicken, increase in volume and  become stiffer and whiter.

The intention is that the finished meringue will hold its shape when transferred to the parchment paper. I was about three minutes out when my hand mixer gave up the ghost.

Valentine Pavlova from My Kitchen WandI have hoped the mixer was just hot, but alas, no.

From the picture you can see that I was pretty close but when the mixture was piped onto the cookie sheet in the picture below, it is not as stiff as I would have liked.

On the flip side, I was the only one noticing.

You will not have this issue, I hope, and will be happily beating in, the cornstarch, vinegar and flavouring.

Lemon juice is a possible substitute for vinegar but I chose not to cut a lemon for 1/2 a teaspoon. The cornstarch and vinegar will help with stability of the meringue and reduce egg white weeping.

Valentine Pavlova from My Kitchen WandNow is the time to fold in the cooled toasted almonds if using.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Transfer the meringue to a piping bag with the largest plain tip available. One large enough that the slices of almonds, if using, can get through without getting stuck at the nozzle.

Option two would be to simply cut off the corner of a sandwich or freezer bag.

Not being Durga, the Indian Goddess of war and possessing many arms, I find it easiest to set the piping bag in a glass, making it much easier to fill; hold the bowl and scoop. Close the top by twisting or zipping if a sandwich bag was used.

An alternative would be to transfer the meringue onto the parchment paper with two spoons. I find it not as easy to maintain similar sizes but it is absolutely an option.

Valentine Pavlova from My Kitchen WandBefore starting to pipe the heart, place a teaspoon or so of the meringue between the parchment paper and the cookie sheet. This will help stop the paper from moving around as the piping is completed.

The meringue is going to expand as it bakes so if the puffs are almost but not quite touching, that is okay. I piped once round for placement and a second time for volume.

As mentioned you can see that the peaks for the most part fall over so a little extra beating would have been helpful.

Take a spoon and make extra indentations in the individual puffs. This will give a little more room to hold the cream when serving.

An alternate possibility would be to pipe continuously around the heart shape several times to build height. The little meringue on the left was for an extra dessert made for gifting.

Transfer the cookies tray to the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes before checking. The pavlova should be hard on the outside, not too dark and able to separate easily from the parchment paper when gently lifted 1/8 inch. Bake a few more minutes if needed.

Close the door, turn off the oven and let sit in the oven to cool for 30 minutes before opening the door to the first notch and letting cool another 30 minutes.

Valentine Pavlova from My Kitchen Wand

To finish you will need:

1 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup Greek yoghurt

3 Tbsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. Liquor (optional)

1 Tbsp. toasted coconut or almonds

1 small package of raspberries

Valentine Pavlova from My Kitchen WandWhen the berries are not local I would suggest buying them a few days in advance and allowing them to ripen.

Take out about a dozen, leaving enough for the top, and press with the back of a fork. Once squished, add in 1 Tbsp. of your liquor of choice. I happened to have raspberry cordial, made last summer. If not adding a liquid, try a teaspoon of sugar and let sit to draw out as much juice as possible.

Whip the cream. Once soft peaks begin to form add the yoghurt, sugar and other tablespoon of liquor.

Yoghurt is also a choice. It will counter all the sweetness of the meringue but if you prefer, leave out the yoghurt. There is still more than enough topping to cover the pavlova and the raspberries will also be tart.

The intention is that the topping be creamy so don’t over whip and create extra stiff peaks.

Fold in the squished raspberries but combine only a little. Leave streaks of colour in the cream.

Valentine Pavlova from My Kitchen Wand

Spoon the cream onto the pavlova and then top with the remaining raspberries and toasted coconut. If I had had a second little box of raspberries I would probably have blended them up with a little sugar and drizzled it on top for added flavour and juiciness. It is a long trip from South America.

Valentine Pavlova from My Kitchen WandValentine Pavlova from My Kitchen Wand

Posted in Dessert, Other Baking & "Baking", Valentine.