It’s a Friday night, so what am I doing, the expected thing for a young man on a Friday night of course: cooking. As all of us head into finals, people are sadly pulling into their studying shells, leaving nothing to do on Friday nights. However, a friend of mine is having a brunch tomorrow morning, which gives me an excuse to cook tonight.
Not long ago (but before this blog began) I made a large number of crème brulees for a dinner. The crème brulees were good, but left me with a lot of extra egg whites. Combining the ready availability of already separated egg whites with my desire not to have to do extra work (read: laziness), I decided that I ought to make pavlova’s for my friend’s brunch. Pavlova’s aren’t really a breakfast food, but brunch is really just an excuse to eat dessert for breakfast, so I wasn’t deterred.
In looking at recipes, I selected this one from epicurious for pavlovas with mixed berries. I chose it mostly because it called for 13 egg whites, and I already had 10, which I didn’t want to try to divide. The recipe wasn’t particularly challenging, but the meringues didn’t turn out particularly good. Pavlovas get their unique texture from cornstarch and vinegar. Unfortunately, I added too much vinegar (spilled a little while measuring over the bowl, oops). The result was that while the texture was ok, they tasted too vinegary. I also spread the meringues a little too thinly at points. Fortunately, the next part of the recipe is to cover the pavlovas in whipped cream and berries. Rather than plain whipped cream, I decided to make a honey-vanilla whipped cream. Piled with enough whipped cream and berries the vinegar fades into the background, and the pavlovas become not half bad. Overall I wouldn’t make them again, but they were at least edible.
Also, this recipe also calls for whipping up egg-whites. This time I got some pictures so that I can demonstrate what I mean.
UPDATE: I served these to my friends this morning, and with the berries and whipped cream on top they were really good. I think the vinegar taste faded a little over night. I also think the whipped cream by itself really stood out, and I'm going to look for ways to use it in the future.
13 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups superfine granulated sugar (castor sugar)
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. line several cookie sheets with parchment paper or sil-pats .Separate the eggs. Once the eggs have been separated put the bowl over a simmering pot of water until the eggs are just barely warm to the touch:
Once the eggs are warm, attach the bowl to your standing mixer, or get your hand mixer. Add the salt and beat the eggs into a foam. I found that without sugar, the whites would get foamy, and form stiff peaks very fast. When the eggs got to that point I added the first 2 cups of superfine. After that I kept beating the eggs at high speed. With the sugar added the eggs quickly took on the glossy sheen I’m used to with whipped egg-whites. Continue beating the eggs until they reach stiff peaks.
This is what foamy, stiff egg whites look like on the end of a finger before sugar is added
Once the egg whites reach stiff peaks, mix the last half cup of superfine sugar with the cornstarch. Beat the cornstarch into the egg-whites. Follow by beating the vinegar into the eggs (make sure not too add too much).
Once the mixture is fully combined. Begin measuring out quantities of Meringue, between a quarter and a half of a cup, and mounding it up, and creating a little well in the middle. Bake the meringues for about an hour and 15 minutes. They should be a brownish color on the outside.
here are the Meringues after they have been baked:
For Honey-Vanilla whipped cream2 cups heavy cream – chilled
3/4 of a cup of honey
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla paste
Whip up the cream at medium speed in a mixer. Once the cream reaches stiff peaks, add the honey and vanilla and beat until combined
I used a mix of frozen berries for the topping, since that was cheaper than fresh. To get the berries ready I thawed them, then mixed them with a little sugar. Since the vinegar already gave the meringues a bit of an acidy taste, I decided to skip on the lime juice. Once the fruit is mixed together. Take a meringue, pile some whipped on top or in the little well if there is one. Then put some fruit on top.