Wednesday, April 30, 2014

strawberry pavlova trifle

The resurfacing heated debate of whether pavlova originated in New Zealand or Australia was really the inspiration for this week's chow creation. Just kidding - I just really like yummy things and this was surely that and even more! This pavlova layered dessert is not only delicious, but it is also texturally and aesthetically delectable. The crunchy chewiness of the pavlova, layered between smooth creamy pudding and accented with fresh sweet strawberries. This is to die for - literally, if God told me this was his welcome gift I would die right here right now (I'm just kidding, please don't kill me now. At least let me finish the post). 

To kick off this three component dessert I'm going to separate some eggs. You only want the whites. If you get just the smidgiest bit of yolk in your whites consider it breakfast and start over. The yolk will prevent the whites from whipping and you'll be standing over your pavlova for hours wondering why it stays flat. Reserve 3 of the egg yolks for the vanilla pudding. 

Along with the whites throw in a pinch of salt. Beat it with a mixer for about 1 minute or until the eggs look very frothy - a very technical term. When it looks like the picture, with the mixer still running, gradually sprinkle in your sugar. It should be so gradual that you look like a crazy person trying to decide whether to add more or less sugar. Once all the sugar is added, mix until it becomes hard peaks. 

Add the vinegar, vanilla, and cornstarch. Fold these in with care so as to not deflate the meringue. I'm not sure why we add vinegar to pavlova but like always, where there is a question google has an answer. Here it is copy and pasted from Yahoo Answers:

Adding vinegar (or any other acid) can make the foam less likely to suffer the consequences of overbeating—lumpiness, loss of water, and collapse. These undesirable consequences result from too many bonds forming between the egg proteins. 

Whether that's true or not, my pavlova turned out well so I'm not going to say it didn't make a difference. Once everything is nice and homogenous pour it onto a silpat and spread it out to 9 inches in diameter. You could do this step on parchment paper with a stencil drawn but I have two problems with that. One stencils are for babies. And two, I'm still out of parchment paper. So, still waiting for those donations. 

Bake for 1 1/2 hours at 180 on the middle rack of your oven. When the timer dings leave the door closed and let it cool for an hour. 

If you're good at managing your time, we can, in the meantime, prepare our pudding. Before I begin though, I just want to say how easy and delicious this pudding recipe is to put together. This is just your classic pudding recipe which requires no skill or fancy ingredients at all. A perfect dessert component, filler, or stuffer. 

In a medium saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add 1/4 cup of milk into the mixture and whisk it until it's smooth. The reason why we add this small amount first is because we want to make sure the cornstarch dissolves and does not clump. After you do this you can go ahead and add the rest of the milk and egg yolks (the yolks from the pavlova whites). 

Place the pan over a medium heat and whisk occasionally for five minutes. By then it should be ever so slightly thickened - switch to a spoonula. Stir from the bottom so it doesn't scorch. After another five minutes the pudding should be thick enough for ribbons to stay afloat. Take it off the heat and stir in vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons of cubed butter.

Using proper plastic wrapping technique which means pressing the plastic against the pudding so that it does not form a skin, refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight until it's chilled. 

Now that the pudding is made we can begin to prep our strawberries. You could really use any fruit you wanted to. Any berry or berries you prefer is permitted and encouraged. I was even debating whether to use pears as my third component. However, as we near the nascent of summer I decided to go with the more traditional strawberry. 

All you want to do is halve and slice your strawberries in 1/4 cm pieces. Depending on your preference you can cut them whichever way you deem fit. Put them in a deep bowl and add 2 tablespoons of sugar and the juice of half a lemon. Let the strawberries macerate in the fridge. 

Now because I get paid by the hour, our pavlova should be cooled and ready to divide. Take a pastry ring or a cookie cutter to divvy up the pavlova. You should be able to get eight equally sized pieces, of which two will go into each trifle. 

It's really simple. Pavlova, pudding, and then strawberry. And if you followed all the instructions correctly yours should end up like this...

Layers of aesthetically beautiful, texturally fantastic, sweet creamy dessert. As summer encroaches on our fleeting spring days I really hope you all give this a try. Scroll down for the recipe. And as always, 



4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla Pudding
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 1/4 cups whole milk
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

strawberries with lemon juice and sugar

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